Manitoba NDP leadership hopeful Wab Kinew is opening up about his brushes with the criminal justice system.

The 35-year-old is one of two candidates vying for the top job.

Kinew said his transition to becoming a better person puts him in a unique position to lead the NDP. In the past, he's talked openly about his difficulties and behaviour as a young man.

Kinew was charged with more than a dozen offences including assault, almost all of which date back to 2003 and 2004 when he was in his early 20s.

Now Kinew is addressing other criminal charges and convictions.

"I've always tried to speak about this period time of my life as one that was full of all sorts of turmoil and that I worked very hard to transform from," said Kinew in an interview with CTV News Tuesday from Memorial Park.

A provincial court representative tells CTV News that in April and May 2003 Kinew faced two domestic-related assault charges. Both charges were later stayed.

“There were allegations but they were dropped, and because there was another person involved I'm not going to discuss the details,” he said.

Zita Somakoko is a domestic violence survivor and runs education programs on the topic. She finds the charges and convictions troubling.

“This is not about politics. This is about a potential leader that can be a premier of this province, a decision maker," she said.

Fined for assault conviction

In February 2003, Kinew was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired. The charge was stayed. He was convicted of fail/refuse to give a breath/blood sample and fined $922.

In June 2004, an assault against a cab driver led to a conviction. Kinew was fined $300.

In October 2014, Kinew received a speeding ticket. The ticket was left unpaid. $606.50 of his wages were garnished from his employer, The University of Winnipeg.

Kinew said he found out about the ticket through an email and didn't realize it was legitimate.

He said he wants to help others and his life experience gives him something to contribute to politics.

"I totally recognize that Manitobans don't owe me anything. Everything I've been doing in public life is born out of desire to try and give back. I've been given an amazing opportunity in my life to have a second chance," said Kinew.

Manitoba NDP stands by vetting process

In a statement to CTV News, the Manitoba NDP said it stands by the party's vetting process and approves of Wab Kinew as a leadership candidate. The party also said Kinew was forthcoming, open and honest during the vetting process.

"Our party believes in the potential for all people to demonstrate personal growth and to learn from their mistakes. Taking responsibility and being accountable for one's actions, is the foundation of maturity and becoming a responsible and positive contributor to our communities and the world around us," the statement said.

The Manitoba NDP leadership convention is set for Sept. 16.