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NDP candidate in Thompson byelection discloses past assault charge as campaign passes the midway point

Eric Redhead says he received an absolute discharge for the charge, which was laid following a dispute with his then-partner about 15 years ago.
eric redhead on train to churchill
Eric Redhead, the NDP candidate in the June 7 byelection for Thompson MLA, poses with fellow train passengers during a recent campaign trip to Churchill.

Eric Redhead, the NDP candidate in the June 7 Thompson byelection to pick the successor to the late Danielle Adams, disclosed a past criminal charge during an interview with the Thompson Citizen May 26.

Redhead, a former chief of Shamattawa First Nation, said he had been charged with assault about 15 years ago as a result of an incident with his former partner, who is the mother of his children. He received an absolute discharge after being referred to a restorative justice program and completing counselling.

Although he and his former partner have a “really good relationship” now as co-parents to their children, the candidate says it is important for him to acknowledge this past mistake. 

“What I did was wrong,” he said. “And I do own that. It’s important to acknowledge wrongs that anyone has done.”

Redhead says his experience with the justice system shows that people can do better when they are given a second chance  — “I think I’m a prime example of that” — and that he is proud of his accomplishments and the work he has done to become a better man since then.

“I’ve learned skills to handle myself in different situations,” he said.

Redhead was in Thompson on Thursday, the cool, rainy weather dampening plans to knock on more doors, something he has done a lot of since the campaign began. 

With advance voting beginning on May 28 and running through June 4, Redhead says he plans to continue to work hard over the last 12 days of the campaign.

“We’re still going to be going to communities right up until election day,” he said, with York Landing on his itinerary as the only one he hasn’t visited at east once already

The candidate recently spent some time in Churchill, where he heard about the port town’s need for an assisted living facility for elders, as well as concerns about health care access.

From his conversations with residents all over the Thompson riding, Redhead says the top issue for voters is health care, as it’s the first or second thing mentioned by everyone he’s talked to.

In Thicket Portage on May 25, Redhead heard from residents about how the community doesn’t have a full-time doctor or nurse and that medical staff have to call doctors in Thompson for treatment advice when faced with an emergency. Getting to where there is care quickly is also a concern.

“They have a difficult time getting a medevac in because of the runway situation,” he said.

Travelling throughout the riding has exposed the candidate to how life is for residents of various communities. His trip to Churchill was his first time riding a Via passenger train on the Hudson bay Railway, the only land link to Hudson Bay. Redhead said he also learned this week that it was possible to get to Thicket Portage in an aluminum boat.

“I said to my campaign manger, “This is the best day I’ve had on the campaign trail,'” he recalled.

From now until election day, Redhead plans to knock on more doors in Thompson and in other communities, many of which he has already totally or mostly covered, being cognizant of the fact that byelection turnout tends to be low.

“We’re not going to take any votes for granted,” he said “It’s really important that the constituents get to the polls.”

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