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Premier addresses Melnick controversy at NDP convention

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It took Greg Selinger all of 42 seconds tonight in a speech to the NDP annual general meeting to address the fact that he had kicked former cabinet minister Christine Melnick out of his caucus on Tuesday.

"This week I had to make a tough decision to remove someone from caucus. And I did it after we consulted with the caucus and they supported that decision," he told a packed convention hall. "And I know it hasn’t been easy on any of us in this room. But it was a necessary decision so that we could stay focused on the priorities of Manitobans."

And then he didn’t bring up the matter again.

Speaking for less than 20 minutes, without notes and with most of his caucus standing behind him, Selinger addressed the issues he said he felt the party needs to concentrate on to win the next election — infrastructure, health care, education, among them — and painted the governing party as the underdog.

"(Conservative Leader) Brian Pallister is a serious threat, but I’m a fighter and you’re fighters and this caucus is full of fighters," he told the crowd of more than 400.

"And because we’re fighters, all of us in this room, we’ve been down before and we have fought our way back and we will do it again."

The convention comes as the NDP, down in popular support, is trying to rev itself up to win a fifth term in office in the spring of 2016.

The three-day convention will debate dozens of policy resolutions and include a speech from federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair. It will also unveil a new attack ad against Pallister.

The convention winds up on Sunday.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 11:16 PM CST: Fixes typo.

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