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Selinger scores endorsement, Ashton touts success

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WINNIPEG - Greg Selinger, the former finance minister, received an endorsement from Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick today for the NDP leadership and pledged to use the floodway to prevent summer rains from inundating the river walkway at The Forks.

At a noon press conference, Selinger said any action to use the floodway to reduce riverbank flooding would ensure people who live upstream of the floodway would either be protected from or compensated for any floodway use that has an impact on their properties.

"Any action on floodway use must take seriously the impact on people who live upstream," he said. "We will do everything in our power to ensure they are not adversely affected by artificial flooding."

Meanwhile, Steve Ashton's campaign officials announced today that they have signed up or renewed 1,100 party memberships over the past several days and suggested the Thompson MLA is in the lead in attracting delegate support.

Further, they said Ashton could narrowly win the leadership on the first ballot.

Before the leadership race began, the provincial NDP had about 5,500 members, according to party officials. As of Sunday, the party had about 7,500 members.

Ashton campaign chairman Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who turned over 250 new memberships at NDP headquarters on Portage Avenue this afternoon, said Ashton is selling memberships across the province, with most in the city of Winnipeg.

Andrew Swan, the former competitiveness minister, meanwhile, promised not to implement a harmonized sales tax (HST) for the remainder of the government’s term in office, if he is elected leader. Under new fixed election dates, the next provincial election will be held Oct. 4, 2011.

Swan also pledged Monday to increase the base rate paid to welfare recipients, which has not been adjusted since 1999. Meanwhile, living costs have gone up 21 per cent in the past decade, he said in a news release this morning.

"Our government has made progress through adjustments to the shelter allowance and other benefits but the base rate for social assistance has remained the same," he said.

On a new HST, Swan said it was not the time to burden consumers and businesses with extra taxes.

"From listening to Manitobans and seeing what other provinces have gone through in implementing this, I can’t burden consumers with more taxes, especially in times of economic uncertainty" he said in a statement.

The NDP is holding a leadership race to replace the departing Gary Doer, who will become the Canadian ambassador to the United States.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM CDT: Adds details from noon press conference

2:21 PM: Adds details on announcement from Ashton campaign regarding memberships

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