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This article was published 29/10/2014 (2082 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A heavy pall pervades the Manitoba Legislative Building today with rumours Premier Greg Selinger is about to fire staff members he believes are disloyal.
There is also a degree of resentment against the five high-ranking cabinet ministers who’ve gone public about their fears Selinger’s leadership is dragging down the political fortunes of the NDP, and that their comments to the media Monday and Tuesday has also tarnished the New Democrats.
Selinger cancelled this week’s cabinet meeting to make a brief appearance at We Day in Winnipeg before heading to Flin Flon where he will spend the rest of the day.
What Selinger does next in the political saga that’s enveloped the NDP government — much to the glee of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives—is expected to be played out over the coming days and certainly before the government introduces its throne speech, expected after Remembrance Day.
Selinger, in announcing he’s staying on as premier, has threatened that if the five cabinet ministers don’t want to support him, they could be expelled from cabinet or choose to resign. There is no indication today that any action has been taken by or against Finance Minister Jennifer Howard, Municipal Affairs Minister Stan Struthers, Jobs and the Economy Minister Theresa Oswald, Justice Minister Andrew Swan and Health Minister Erin Selby.
Those pushing for Selinger to resign are hoping to duplicate in Manitoba what former B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s 2010 resignation did for the B.C. Liberals. The West Coast Liberals experienced a resurgence in public opinion polls and have remained in power under new leader Christy Clark.
Campbell resigned after his popularity fell to only nine per cent due to B.C.’s introduction of the harmonized sales tax.
Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux said today he supports Selinger.
He also said the current internal feud between members of the NDP caucus over Selinger’s leadership has to be resolved quickly.
"This whole issue should have been solved and dealt with internally," Lemieux said. "He said that he’s staying as premier, so as far as I’m concerned he’s staying as premier. No matter how you cut it, if the coach says he’s staying, he’s staying.
"If the premier says he’s staying, my job is to work with him and to work with my caucus and move forward."
Lemieux said he’s had conversations with Selinger over the direction of the government, but that those discussions will stay confidential.
"To me, who is the enemy? The enemy is Brian Pallister, on a political level. Brian Pallister to me, and the Progressive Conservatives, are a scary party."
Lemieux, also is responsible for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, said he was in a standing committee Tuesday and could not be present at a news conference where Selinger said he was staying put.
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, a Selinger loyalist, said the work of government is continuing.
"You know what, it’s business as usual," she told reporters following an event celebrating Women’s History Month at the Manitoba Legislative Building.
She noted, for example, that the premier was in the North today "talking about jobs and the economy."
Irvin-Ross refused to comment on the concerns raised by some of her cabinet colleagues about Selinger’s leadership.
"I’m here to say that I support Premier Selinger wholeheartedly," she said before ducking into the NDP caucus offices. "I have confidence in his leadership. I know I have colleagues that have confidence in his leadership and also many Manitobans (who do)."
Meanwhile, former Manitoba NDP premier Howard Pawley said today that it’s in the party’s interests to resolve its differences soon.
"I don’t think (there) is any advantage within the party on either side (to let divisions drag on). I think they need to deal with it quickly," he said from Windsor.
Pawley emphasized that as a former premier he did not want to comment on Selinger’s performance or whether he should resign.
"I don’t want to say he’s doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing because I don’t think that would be appropriate," said Pawley, who was premier from 1981 to 1988.
He said if the party can come to a "compromise" it is not too late for it to recover and retain power.
"It’s over a year before the election so they have lots of time," he said.
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.
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Updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM CDT: Updates with comments from Kerri Irvin-Ross
3:46 PM: Adds comment from Lemieux, fixes typo in headline.