Niki Ashton

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Niki Ashton
Member of Parliament
for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski[a]
Assumed office
October 14, 2008
Preceded byTina Keeper
Chair of the Standing Committee on
Status of Women
In office
June 21, 2011 – November 14, 2011
MinisterRona Ambrose
Preceded byHedy Fry
Succeeded byIrene Mathyssen
Personal details
Niki Christina Ashton

(1982-09-09) September 9, 1982 (age 41)
Thompson, Manitoba, Canada
Political partyNew Democratic Party
Ryan Barker
(m. 2011; div. 2017)
Domestic partnerBruce Moncur[1]
ParentSteve Ashton
Residence(s)Thompson, Manitoba[2]
Alma mater
OccupationUniversity lecturer, researcher

Niki Christina Ashton MP (born September 9, 1982) is a Canadian politician. She is the New Democratic Member of Parliament for the federal electoral district of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba, Canada. She was first elected in the 2008 federal election. Ashton announced her intention to run for the leadership of the federal NDP on March 7, 2017.[3] She placed third in the October 1, 2017 election.[4]

Early life[edit]

Ashton was born in Thompson, Manitoba.[5] She is the daughter of Hariklia Dimitrakopoulou and former Manitoba provincial NDP cabinet minister Steve Ashton. Her father is English-born, and her mother is of Greek descent. Ashton has one younger brother, Alexander. She attended École Riverside School and R. D. Parker Collegiate. She later attended the Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong. She has a B.A in Global Political Economy from the University of Manitoba, and an M.A. in international affairs from Carleton University.[6] She has been an instructor at the University College of the North.[7]

She studied human rights and social justice at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.[8]

In 2004, she was a coordinator and promoter of volunteering at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. With her knowledge of Greek she assisted the Canadian and Chinese Olympic teams.[9]


Ashton in 2012

In 2005, she defeated incumbent New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Bev Desjarlais for the NDP nomination due, in part, to the same-sex marriage issue after Desjarlais broke party ranks to vote against the Civil Marriage Act. Desjarlais subsequently quit the party, sat as an independent for the remainder of her term, and ran against Ashton as an independent candidate in the election in the Churchill riding in the 2006 Canadian federal election.[10] Ashton's major themes in her campaign included getting federal funding for the University College of the North, as well as getting a federal government northern development agreement.

Although the labour unions in Thompson endorsed Ashton,[11] the NDP vote nevertheless split between Ashton and Desjarlais, and the riding was won by Liberal Party candidate Tina Keeper.[12]

Ashton defeated Keeper in the 2008 election to regain the riding for the NDP.

On November 7, 2011, in Montreal, Ashton launched her campaign as the ninth person to join the 2012 NDP leadership race.[13] At the age of 29, she was the youngest of the candidates. She placed seventh with 5.7% of the vote at the March 24, 2012 leadership election and was eliminated on the first ballot.

Since first being elected in 2008, Ashton was elected as the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women in the 40th Parliament of Canada, as has served as the NDP Post-Secondary and Youth critic, as the Rural and Community Development critic and from 2012 to 2014 as the Status of Women Critic. On January 23, 2015, Ashton was appointed as the Aboriginal Affairs Critic in Canada's Official Opposition.[14]

After the 2015 federal election, Ashton was appointed the NDP critic for Jobs, Employment and Workforce Development in the 42nd Canadian Parliament.[15]

Niki Ashton at an LGBT pride event in 2017

Ashton announced her candidacy for the 2017 NDP leadership election on March 7, 2017.[16] She placed third in the October 1, 2017 election, with 17.4% of the vote, just over 1,000 votes behind runner up Charlie Angus. Jagmeet Singh was elected leader on the first ballot.[17]

Ashton was re-elected in the 2019 federal election.[18] She was stripped of her critic roles on January 1, 2021, after revealing to the public on Twitter[19] that she had travelled to Greece during the 2020 COVID-19 second wave to visit an "ailing grandmother." She had not informed party leadership of her travel plans beforehand.[20][21] She was re-elected in the 2021 federal election.

Political views[edit]

Domestic policy[edit]

During the 2017 New Democratic Party leadership election Ashton ran on a platform including:

  • A focus on plans to create and maintain good-paying jobs for young people and working Canadians, and tackle the threat of climate change.
  • A commitment to providing tuition-free post-secondary education.[22]
  • Advocating combatting the unequal distribution of wealth, the loss of value-added jobs, the "foreign ownership and trade deals that are selling us out".[23]

Niki Ashton criticizes the Canada Infrastructure Bank for only funding public-private partnerships, and for its failure to complete any of its projects after four years of existence. In February 2022, Ashton introduced a bill to rewrite its mandate focus on projects that tackle the impacts of climate change, and to fund publicly owned infrastructure instead of trying to implicate private finance.[24][25]

Foreign policy[edit]

During the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis Ashton tweeted the following: "PM Trudeau sides with [U.S. President Donald] Trump's regime change agenda and Brazil's fascist President in support of someone calling for a military coup in Venezuela," Ashton said on Twitter.

"No! We cannot support an agenda of economic or military coups. #HandsOffVenezuela."[26]

Ashton has been a critic of the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou.[27] She has "sponsored a petition[28] in the House of Commons that calls for Meng’s immediate release; urged the government to “protect Canadian jobs” by allowing Huawei to participate in the roll-out of 5G in Canada; and encouraged a foreign policy review to develop an “independent” foreign policy on China." In November 2020, she organized a “Free Meng” event with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, the Canadian Peace Congress and the Hamilton Coalition to Stop War.[28]

She is against the United States embargo against Cuba, and sponsored a petition in the House of Commons calling for the lifting of the embargo.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Ashton can read, write and speak four languages: English, French, Greek and Spanish.[30] She has also taken lessons in Cree, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and Mandarin.[1]

Ashton married Ryan Barker in 2011. They separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017.[31]

In May 2017, Ashton announced that she was pregnant. She gave birth to twin boys in November 2017.[32] She has stated that "Like millions of Canadian women I will carry on my work", and continued with her leadership campaign.[33][34]

Electoral record[edit]

2021 Canadian federal election: Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Niki Ashton 7,632 42.6 -7.7 $55,604.26
Liberal Shirley Robinson 4,514 25.2 +5.3 $52,797.79
Conservative Charlotte Larocque 4,330 24.2 +0.5 none listed
People's Dylan Young 899 5.0 +3.8 $0.00
Green Ralph McLean 552 3.1 -1.7 $0.00
Total valid votes/Expense limit 17,927 98.8 $122,781.65
Total rejected ballots 210 1.2
Turnout 18,137 36.6
Eligible voters 49,579
New Democratic hold Swing -6.5
Source: Elections Canada[35]
2019 Canadian federal election: Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Niki Ashton 11,919 50.3 +5.26 $62,221.20
Conservative Cyara Bird 5,616 23.7 +13.38 none listed
Liberal Judy Klassen 4,714 19.9 -22.1 $59,410.31
Green Ralph McLean 1,144 4.8 +3.01 none listed
People's Ken Klyne 294 1.2 $0.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 23,687 100.0
Total rejected ballots 190
Turnout 23,877 48.8
Eligible voters 48,949
New Democratic hold Swing -4.06
Source: Elections Canada[36][37]
2015 Canadian federal election: Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Niki Ashton 13,487 45.04 -6.65 $107,253.16
Liberal Rebecca Chartrand 12,575 42.00 +22.13 $108,676.93
Conservative Kyle G. Mirecki 3,090 10.32 -15.81
Green August Hastmann 537 1.79 -0.52
Libertarian Zachary Linnick 255 0.85
Total valid votes/expense limit 29,944 100.00   $233,135.69
Total rejected ballots 252 0.83
Turnout 30,196 61.58
Eligible voters 49,036
New Democratic hold Swing -14.39
Source: Elections Canada[38][39]
2011 Canadian federal election: Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Niki Ashton 10,262 51.12 +3.36
Conservative Wally Daudrich 5,256 26.18 +5.68
Liberal Sydney Garrioch 4,087 20.36 -8.38
Green Alberteen Spence 471 2.35 -0.94
Total valid votes/expense limit 20,076 100.00  
Total rejected ballots 107 0.53 -0.02
Turnout 20,183 45.35 +5.20
Eligible voters 44,509
2008 Canadian federal election: Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Niki Ashton 8,734 47.76 +19.35 $79,086
Liberal Tina Keeper 5,289 28.74 -11.94
Conservative Wally Daudrich 3,773 20.50 +8.95 $45,616
Green Saara Harvie 606 3.29 +1.69 $28
Total valid votes/expense limit 18,402 100.00   $91,452
Total rejected ballots 102 0.55 +0.19
Turnout 18,504 40.15 -13.48
  New Democrat gain from Liberal Swing +
2006 Canadian federal election: Churchill
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Tina Keeper 10,157 40.68 $75,179.50
New Democratic Niki Christina Ashton 7,093 28.41 $70,290.02
Independent Bev Desjarlais 4,283 17.16 $23,042.68
Conservative Nazir Ahmad 2,886 11.56 $23,875.20
Green Jeff Fountain 401 1.61 $2,837.23
Independent Brad Bodnar 146 0.58 $68.69
Total valid votes 24,966 100.00
Total rejected ballots 90
Turnout 25,056 55.70
Electors on lists 44,982
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.


  1. ^ At the time Ashton was elected (2008), the riding was called Churchill.
  1. ^ a b Samantha Wright Allen (June 7, 2017). "'It is unique, but it shouldn't be,' Ashton talks about being pregnant while running for federal NDP leadership race". The Hill Times. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  2. ^ "Official Voting Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Harris, Kathleen (March 7, 2017). "Niki Ashton launches NDP leadership bid with pledge to fight inequality, injustice". CBC News. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  4. ^ Galloway, Gloria (October 1, 2017). "Jagmeet Singh chosen as new federal NDP leader". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Stone, Laura (March 24, 2012). "Niki Ashton". Toronto Star. p. A26.
  6. ^ "Centre for Security and Defence Studies - Annual Report 2004-05" (PDF). Carleton University. Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. April 1, 2005. p. 20. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  7. ^ "About Niki Ashton". Niki Ashton. New Democratic Party. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "Niki Ashton - Faculty of Public Affairs". Carleton University. May 18, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Beyond Politics - Niki Ashton". CPAC.
  10. ^ "Churchill MP quits NDP after nomination loss". CBC News. October 18, 2005. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  11. ^ "NDP Candidate Niki Ashton Backed by Unions". Manitoba Federation of Labour. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  12. ^ "Canada Votes 2006 - Candidates & Ridings - 216 Churchill". CBC News. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  13. ^ "Niki Ashton vows 'new politics' in NDP leadership bid". CBC News. November 7, 2011.
  15. ^ Kirkup, Kristy (12 November 2015). "Tom Mulcair taps Nathan Cullen, Charlie Angus, Guy Caron for top critic roles". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  16. ^ Ballingall, Alex (March 7, 2017). "Manitoba's Niki Ashton launches NDP leadership bid". Toronto Star. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  17. ^ Ballingball, Alex (1 October 2017). "Jagmeet Singh wins the NDP leadership race". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Niki Ashton wins fourth term in House of Commons with decisive victory in Oct. 21 federal election".
  19. ^ @nikiashton (1 January 2021). "Wishing everyone a better year ahead. Bonne année à tous. After spending Christmas alone with our family at home…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ "NDP strip Niki Ashton of critic roles after recent trip to Greece". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. 2021-01-01. Retrieved 2021-01-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  21. ^ @nikiashton (January 1, 2021). "Wishing everyone a better year ahead. Bonne année à tous. After spending Christmas alone with our family at home…" (Tweet). Retrieved January 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Who’s running for the NDP leadership? Read the list of candidates so far Archived May 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. The Globe and Mail. Last updated July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  23. ^ Rabson, Mia (March 1, 2017). "Ashton poised to announce NDP leadership candidacy next week". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  24. ^ Modjeski, Morgan. "Proposed bill by NDP would focus federal cash on climate change Share Pause Mute Current Time 2:32 / Duration 2:59 Loaded: 94.58% Fullscreen Proposed bill by NDP would focus federal cash on climate change". CityNews. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  25. ^ Ashton, Niki. "Niki Ashton on Canada Infrastructure Bank Act |". Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  26. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (January 24, 2019). "Singh calls on Trudeau to part ways with U.S., Brazil on Venezuela crisis". CBC. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  27. ^ Young, Ian (November 23, 2020). "Canadian MPs join campaign to release Meng Wanzhou, citing Sinophobia and plunging relations with China". South China Morning Post. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Ivison, John (23 November 2020). "John Ivison: Useful idiots of the world unite - and they have, with 'Free Meng' event". National Post. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  29. ^ "Petition to the Parliament of Canada (e-3640), to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba". 3 November 2021.
  30. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Meet Niki Ashton, the progressive politician trying to bring Bernie Sanders’ movement to Canada. The Tab. Author - James Kelly. Published April 3, 2017. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  31. ^ "Registry Search Results - Ashton, Niki C vs Barker, Ryan G." Manitoba Justice. February 1, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  32. ^ "Niki Ashton Has Twin Boys". La Pas Online. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  33. ^ "Niki Ashton says she's pregnant, pressing on with NDP leadership bid". CBC News. May 29, 2017.
  34. ^ Ballingall, Alex (May 29, 2017). "NDP leadership contender Niki Ashton announces she's pregnant". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  35. ^ "List of confirmed candidates – September 20, 2021 Federal Election". Elections Canada. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  36. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  37. ^ "Election Night Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  38. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, 30 September 2015
  39. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Media related to Niki Ashton at Wikimedia Commons