A long-time Point Douglas activist and NDP supporter says the party missed an opportunity to involve its members in choosing a new candidate for the constituency.

Sel Burrows, a former provincial organizer for the NDP, criticized the party for closing the nomination process with little notice and with only one candidate declared.

Indigenous activist Bernadette Smith was the only candidate to submit her name before the party’s deadline and her nomination is to be made official Jan. 31.

Burrows stressed that his objection has nothing to do with Smith as a candidate.

Smith has pushed for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and co-founded the group Drag the Red, which searches the Red River for evidence of missing people.

“I think Bernadette Smith will be a wonderful, strong, powerful representative for this area, but it’s making the same mistake that the Democrats in the States have made, the party here’s made. They forgot about the grassroots,” said Burrows.

Burrows said a fuller nomination process would have been an opportunity for the NDP to grow their membership in the community.

“The membership in the NDP in the inner city is way, way down, and we could’ve had 500 members,” he said.

In a statement released to CTV News, NDP provincial secretary Keith Bellamy said the party set the date of the nomination meeting for Jan. 31 “in accordance with the notice requirements of the constitution of the (Manitoba) NDP.”

Bellamy said the date was set at a provincial executive meeting on Jan. 19, after a request by the president of the Point Douglas NDP constituency association for the NDP provincial office to arrange a date, place and time.

“The date was selected with an acute awareness of the potential for the byelection to be called at any time without advance notice by the Brian Pallister government,” said Bellamy.

Premier Brian Pallister has until July to call the byelection and has not yet indicated when he will.

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Burrows would like the NDP to put out a call for more candidates, and for the members in Point Douglas to vote on who the next candidate will be in the by-election to replace former NDP MLA Kevin Chief, who stepped down earlier this month.

The constituency of Point Douglas has voted NDP for more than two decades.

The Liberals have set their nomination date for Feb. 2 and are accepting nominations until next Thursday, while the Progressive Conservatives have not set a nomination deadline.

- With files from The Canadian Press