Thompson Coun. Jeff Fountain has twice called publicly for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski NDP MP Niki Ashton to resign her seat in the House of Commons, first in his Facebook group and again in a Feb. 16 interview with Sheila Gunn Reid of Rebel News.
Fountain first made the call for Ashton’s resignation in a Facebook live video on Feb. 3 and reiterated the point the following day in a post in which he said that “For too long we have sat quietly while she advocates for issues contrary to our national and local interest.”
In his interview with Rebel News, Fountain said his call was largely a symbolic gesture, as he didn’t expect it would actually lead to Ashton’s resignation, but said it was a way to give voice to frustrations some of her constituents have had during her time as MP, dating as far back as a 2010 vote to scrap a bill that called for an end to the long-gun registry, which was successful despite Ashton voting against it. Fountain said other reasons for his call for Ashton’s resignation included her decision to travel to Greece to visit her sick grandmother after Christmas despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, her support for the Leap Manifesto, which opposes damaging resource extraction activities, and positions she has taken on issues relating to China.
“All of these things combined together have led me to call for her resignation,” Fountain told Reid.
The councillor originally had hoped to publicly call for her resignation at the Feb. 16 council meeting, he said in his Facebook video, but no mention of Ashton was made at Tuesday’s meeting.
A spokesperson from Ashton’s Parliamentary office told the Nickel Belt News that Fountain had the right to his own opinion but pointed out that he had run as a candidate in the Churchill riding in a previous federal election and lost to Ashton.
“It’s disappointing but perhaps not surprising that he is now using his position as a city councillor to promote his own personal political agenda,” the spokesperson said, while also questioning Fountain’s decision to appear on Rebel News. “It is particularly concerning that he would turn to Rebel Media, a notorious far right news organization that has been condemned by many for its promotion of far right conspiracy theories and providing a platform for the founder of the Proud Boys, an extremist group now banned by the federal government. This is an organization that has even been barred from news conferences by the Conservative party.”
Ashton said her priority remains speaking out for her riding.
“This week, I spoke out here in the North and in the House of Commons in support of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation in their fight for clean water,” she said. “While I am disappointed in what has happened, I will continue to work for our region, including working with First Nations, Métis and municipal governments, including the City of Thompson. While we may have our political differences, the most important thing is to speak out for our region. This will continue to be my top priority.”