Steve Ashton (born February 29, 1956 in Surrey, England) is a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He is a long-serving member of the Manitoba legislature, and is currently a cabinet minister in the New Democratic Party government of Gary Doer.
Ashton moved with his family to Thompson, in northern Manitoba, at age eleven. He was educated at R.D. Parker Collegiate in that community, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was President of the University of Manitoba Student's Union in 1978-79, and worked as an economist after graduation. At a young age, Ashton was brought into the New Democratic Party by local MLA Joseph Borowski.
Ashton was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1981 provincial election, defeating Progressive Conservative incumbent Ken MacMaster by 72 votes in the constituency of Thompson. At the time of his first election, Ashton was involved in an INCO strike in the Thompson area as a member of the United Steelworkers of America. He was re-elected in the 1986 election by a greater margin. Ashton did not serve in the cabinet of Howard Pawley.
The NDP were badly defeated in the provincial election of 1988, although Ashton managed to win his own riding by a comfortable margin. He would later serve as House Leader for the NDP in opposition, and was easily re-elected in the provincial elections of 1990, 1995 and 1999. In 1995, he supported Lorne Nystrom's bid to lead the federal New Democratic Party.
When NDP leader Gary Doer became Premier in October 1999, Ashton was appointed Minister of Highways and Government Services. On July 4, 2000, he was charged with administration of the Gaming Control Act; his ministry was renamed as Transportation and Government Services on January 17, 2001. Following a cabinet shuffle on September 25, 2002, Ashton became Minister of Conservation (in which capacity he argued for national approval of the Kyoto Accord on climate change). On June 25, 2003, he was also made Minister of Labour and Immigration with responsibility for Multiculturalism and administration of the Worker's Compensation Act.
In 2003, Ashton supported Bill Blaikie's campaign to become leader of the federal NDP.
Ashton was re-elected in the 2003 election with over 82% of the vote in his constituency. On November 4, 2003, he was named as the province's first Minister of Water Stewardship (created after highly-publicized water contamination tragedies in Walkerton, Ontario and North Battleford, Saskatchewan).
Unrelated to his political career, Ashton is also Secretary of the Canadian Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, seeking the return of the treasured sculptures from Britain to Greece.