Delegates to the Manitoba NDP's leadership convention dispersed this past weekend with two images in their mindseye:
* their new leader dragging a woman down a hallway by her hair, and
* their new leader throwing a young woman across a room so roughly that she suffers physical injury
Neither image is palatable to NDP members, so over the past few days they've cobbled together a new narrative to reconcile their new leader, Wab Kinew, with the fact that one of his old girlfriends had him charged with domestic abuse.
He's changed, they chorus. They're quick to say they believe the girlfriend's story of being roughed up by Kinew---"believe the woman' is now a basic tenet of the NDP--- but... But he's changed. He's now a model of how a man with a troubled past can re-invent himself as a decent, honourable husband, father, and political leader, say his supporters.
Yes, there's a 'but' from critics of Kinew and his blind endorsers.
Wab Kinew says the abuse didn't happen. The charges were investigated and dropped, he'll tell you. He doesn't want you to 'believe the woman.' She's a liar, is his position.
Think about what he's saying.
If his ex-girlfriend is lying about the abuse now, she was lying about it when she spoke to RCMP 14 years ago. And making a false statement to police is a crime. She should have been charged and sent to jail, not him, is the only conclusion. Kinew has managed to turn himself into the victim, the golden status in the NDP. He's the victim of the awful lying woman, is his position.
Kinew's supporters, especially the "strong NDP women" like fellow MLA Nahanni Fontaine, who believe the woman are put in the position of saying that it's he who is the liar. But by allowing him to denigrate his ex, they are abetting him.
And he's doing it NOW. Not 14 years ago.
The argument that it happened so long ago it's time to let it go doesn't hold. Kinew is challenging her credibility NOW and doing it with the cloak of leader of the Manitoba NDP.
He hasn't changed because he says there's nothing to change from. He didn't do it, is his bedrock position. Change what? Change why?
Note that none of the "professional journalists" who have spoken with Kinew after his leadership victory asked him for his account of what happened the night of the alleged domestic abuse.
That's just as well for him because he's shown a selective memory of his past transgressions.
In the past few days the audio recording of a sentencing hearing for Kinew in 2004 surfaced. The transcript contained a completely different account of an assault on a cab driver than the account Kinew related in his best-selling memoir "The Reason You Walk."
Now, here we come to the defence of Wab, minor as it is. His account and the court account can be seen as two halves of the same story and they're not mutually exclusive. But what he left out of his half is instructive.
Kinew admitted he was drunk and tried to skip out on the taxi fare when a cabbie grabbed him and they exchanged punches before police arrived and arrested the future leader of the NDP.
In court, however, the story told the judge was different.
Wab, drunk, had been berating the driver with racist comments during the ride. When the cab stopped, Kinew got out, went to the driver and suckerpunched him through his open window. When the drive got out of the car, Kinew knocked him to the ground and started kicking him when he was down.
Two more unpalatable images for the NDP faithful---a racist Wab Kinew kicking a downed man.
Kinew never apologized for his cowardly kicks, nor for his racist comments--in his book or in person.
Kinew's book may contain some clues as to who is telling the truth about the night of alleged abuse that led to the charges against him.
After his girlfriend left him and got him charged, he found another. They had a baby but "after the baby arrived things soured between us." They "muddled through for more than a year", he wrote, until she left him "after one of our arguments".
He quickly found a new girl, and even after reconciling with the mother of his son, he "did not stop seeing the other woman."
Eventually, one child later, they (the girlfriend, not the 'other woman') broke up for good. Another argument. On Christmas Day. "I knew there would be more arguing and fighting in front of my sons if we tried to reconcile again."
He took up with another, enjoyed her company, until "(I)t came to an end. Perhaps I was too quick to anger." Oh? She, too, broke up with him. (Though they eventually got together again---"I told her about the ways I had changed"and they got married.)
Three women, each of whom left him at some point. Two of these relationships began and ended after he says he stopped drinking and was attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.
Arguments. Anger. Abuse?
In his memoir Kinew says his troubled Twenties were a reflection of his oversized ego. But, of course, he says, 'he's changed'.
In the last mayoral election candidate Gord Steeves was attacked for a post on Facebook by his wife who said she was reluctant to go downtown because of "drunken Indians"---(like the 21 year old Wab Kinew?) At the time, Kinew had not yet apologized for misogynystic and homophobic rap lyrics (as he hadn't enterered politics), but we still didn't know about his racist taunts and charges of domestic abuse.
Kinew, on his high horse, sneered at Steeves and tweeted:
Wab Kinew @WabKinew 22m
Tweet me when Gord Steeves does the right thing and drops out of the race.
The difference between them, he sniffed, was that his errors were in the past and he had apologized for them, but Steeves' apology was too recent to be believed.
Well, it turns out that Kinew's secrets are still trickling out slowly and even after 14 years he's refusing to apologize.
Perhaps he can swallow his ego long enough to apologize to Gord Steeves.
Exactly one week ago nobody was interested in what the woman who laid charges of domestic abuse against Wab Kinew had to say. Now that's all everybody's talking about when his name comes up.
It only happened because The Black Rod asked the question "why are all the professional journalists in town ignoring her?" One reader thought we asked the right question of the right people. Maybe you've heard of him..,
Members of The Black Rod:
Congratulations on your outing of several
incidents in the life of new NDP leader Wab Kinew,
which were subtly "missed" by professional
journalists until you forced them to do some
Peter Warren Investigative Journalism
Please see our webpage: www.peterwarren.ca
Telephone: (250) 380-PWIJ (7945)
Specialty: Cold-Case Murders
and/or Wrongful Convictions