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Mamakwa could consider run for NDP leadership

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa says he'll likely consider a run for the leadership of the Ontario NDP, after Andrea Horwath announced her departure Thursday.
Sol Mamakwa
Sol Mamakwa was reelected to a second term as MPP for Kiiwetinoong on Thursday. (File)

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa says he’ll likely consider a run at the Ontario NDP’s leadership, after longtime leader Andrea Horwath announced her resignation after disappointing results in Thursday's election.

Mamakwa, who was re-elected handily to a second term in the northern riding, said he’s open to the possibility after being asked to consider it by supporters.

“There’s certainly a lot of people who have reached out to me regarding that,” he said. “Some leaders and community people from Kiiwetinoong – not only that, people [across] Ontario as well.”

The day hasn’t yet come to make the call, Mamakwa said, adding his decision to enter politics in the first place was made based on community support, not personal ambition.

“I let people choose that – this path I’m on, being an MPP, is not a path I chose.”

Mamakwa, one of a small handful of Indigenous MPPs in the province’s history, has built a profile at Queen’s Park with forceful advocacy on issues affecting remote communities, like access to housing and clean drinking water.

Horwath left the NDP in a solid position, Mamakwa said, but after her four campaigns as leader, he believes the time had come for a new face at the party's helm.

“In order to move forward, I think it’s a good step,” he said. “We thank Andrea for her leadership and putting us in the place we’re at today, the Official Opposition.”

The New Democrats will retain their position as the opposition, but the party's seat count fell to 31, after winning 40 of Ontario's 124 seats in 2018.

Mamakwa called it an honour to be returned to Queen’s Park a second time, attributing his victory to his familiarity with the realities of life in the region.

“I think being able to provide a voice for the north, having been born and raised on a reserve, and also to have that lived experience being in a town like Sioux Lookout” resonates with constituents, he said.

Mamakwa won with 2,426 votes, or 55.98 per cent of all ballots cast.

PC candidate Dwight Monck placed second with 1,329 votes (30.66 per cent), followed by Liberal Manuela Michelizzi with 272 votes (6.28 per cent), Green Suzette Foster with 156 votes (3.6 per cent), and Alex Dornn of the New Blue Party with 151 votes (3.48 per cent).

Those results are not final, with six of the riding’s 51 polls yet to report as of Friday afternoon.

A province-wide dip in voter turnout was even more pronounced in Kiiwetinoong, with participation falling to just 4,334, down significantly from 6,477 in 2018.

With of a total of 15,820 eligible voters, that represented just a 27.4 per cent voter turnout.


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