PREMIER Greg Selinger played a key role in a decision to ignore a party directive -- something that has inflamed rank-and-file members of the NDP.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/6/2012 (3346 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Premier Greg Selinger


Premier Greg Selinger

PREMIER Greg Selinger played a key role in a decision to ignore a party directive -- something that has inflamed rank-and-file members of the NDP.

Selinger and three members of his caucus pressed the NDP executive at a special meeting April 26 to disregard the directive to accept a $250,000 taxpayer subsidy.

A party source said Selinger and MLAs James Allum (Fort Garry-Riverview), Erna Braun (Rossmere) and Drew Caldwell (Brandon East) were among 15 members of the NDP's inner circle to support a motion not to apply for the funding, which is available to all registered political parties.

Eight executive members voted against the motion, introduced by Caldwell and Allum, including party president Lorraine Sigurdson. She would resigned from her post four days later.

At the NDP's convention in 2011, delegates passed a resolution calling on the party to apply for the subsidy, which was introduced four years ago under the Election Finances Act. The payment was brought in as the province banned corporate and union donations to political parties.

However, the provincial Conservatives -- terming the subsidy a "vote tax" -- have pointedly refused to apply for the cash. And the NDP have followed suit.

The NDP provincial executive's decision to ignore a directive from its supreme policy-making body -- its annual convention -- angered many in the party. At last weekend's NDP AGM, two party stalwarts called the action "shameful." Delegates passed an emergency resolution demanding the NDP accept government funding in the future.

According to the party source, Sigurdson, as the executive meeting's chairwoman, initially ruled the April 26 MLA-backed motion defying a convention directive out of order. Her decision was challenged, however, and she was overruled in a vote. The executive then passed the controversial motion. Among the dissenters was Ellen Olfert, who was acclaimed as president, succeeding Sigurdson, at last weekend's convention.

The NDP executive includes two spots for caucus members -- currently filled by Caldwell and Braun. Allum sits on the executive as the party's past president, while Selinger, as premier, is guaranteed a spot.

The premier refused to discuss the April 26 meeting when scrummed by reporters outside the legislature on Monday.

He did, however, acknowledge the anger that NDP delegates expressed this past weekend at the executive's decision. "They aired their views. Everybody was there and paid close attention to what their views were. And we respect the process of having that kind of democratic discussion in our party."

Last month, the government introduced legislation to scrap the current political party funding model and replace it with one to be devised by an independent commissioner. The bill is expected to pass before the legislature rises later this month.

Government House Leader Jennifer Howard said it is clear the old law was not working, as neither of the two major parties applied for funds.

The NDP has argued public funding of political parties is necessary to give all a level playing field and to prevent wealthy Manitobans from exerting undue influence on elections.

Resolution's text


Text of the resolution passed at a special NDP executive meeting April 26:

"Whereas the provincial executive has been advised the legislation governing party funding will be amended during the spring legislative session;

"Therefore be it resolved that the party not apply for funding prior to the passage of the legislation.

"Be it further resolved that the party-funding legislation ensure that the annual funding allocation be automatically paid without need of a check-off."

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

   Read full biography