Friday, 13 January 2012
Kevin Chief: Rising up the Ranks
University of Winnipeg,
Kevin Chief Bio
After losing the 2010 Winnipeg North By-election to (the very well-organized and active in the community) Liberal Kevin Lamoureux in a tight race1, the New Democrat went on to gain the nomination to run in the safe seat of Point Douglas2. Chief won that election with 73.5% of the vote. Kevin Chief had definitely improved his voter mobilizing skills since the last election, as turnout in the riding rose by 1,000 votes.
As a candidate, he also presented an inspirational life story detailing his origins as a child from a single-father household in the working class North End. He tied it in with his political values quite well.
Today, Premier Selinger's announced the creation of a new department of Children and Youth Opportunities. The department deals with pressing issues - youth employment3 and other concerns relating to the well-being of young Manitobans. It also happens to overlap with Chief's areas of experience. This fact provides evidence that the department was created - at least in part - with the rookie MLA in mind.
How well Kevin Chief translates his other experiences into acting as minister of the department remains to be seen. How involved or innovative a ministerial style he adopts for the Children and Youth Opportunities Department is another unknown. One thing's for sure, though: the Manitoba NDP has high hopes for Kevin Chief.
1 >Winnipeg North is a federal riding that's generally safe for the NDP. How big the role Lamoureux's superior political organization and Chief's inexperience with campaigning played in the upset Liberal victory is uncertain.↩
2 The Former NDP MLA who represented the riding - George Hickes - announced that he would retire from the legislature in 2011.↩
3 Manitoba's youth unemployment rate is higher than the overall Manitoba unemployment rate by 6.4 percentage points. Even with that fact, Manitoba has the second lowest youth unemployment rate in Canada - demonstrating that youth joblessness is a Canada-wide problem.↩