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Halting steps to NDP unity

Leadership rift still seems to be dominating caucus

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/3/2015 (1078 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Internal party discord appears to be paralyzing Manitoba's NDP caucus.

After meeting for 21/2 hours on Wednesday, New Democrat MLAs could not agree on a clear process for dealing with dissidents within their ranks -- or even who should be on a committee to move the process forward.

It also appeared no government business was discussed.

Premier Greg Selinger said the "main focus" of the meeting was about "how we work together."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/3/2015 (1078 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Internal party discord appears to be paralyzing Manitoba's NDP caucus.

After meeting for 21/2 hours on Wednesday, New Democrat MLAs could not agree on a clear process for dealing with dissidents within their ranks — or even who should be on a committee to move the process forward.

NDP president Ovide Mercredi (from left), Premier Greg Selinger and his aide, Paul McKie, head to the NDP caucus room Wednesday.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

NDP president Ovide Mercredi (from left), Premier Greg Selinger and his aide, Paul McKie, head to the NDP caucus room Wednesday.

It also appeared no government business was discussed.

Premier Greg Selinger said the "main focus" of the meeting was about "how we work together."

"We had a good beginning session about different ways that we can find a path forward together," he said afterwards.

Seven government MLAs — including five former cabinet ministers who called last fall for Selinger to resign — have limited caucus privileges. They are not permitted to attend caucus meetings.

At the NDP's annual convention Sunday, Selinger defeated one of those former ministers, Theresa Oswald, by a mere 33 votes to hang onto his leadership. A third leadership candidate, Steve Ashton, failed to make the final ballot.

Selinger said there was "a whole range of emotions" expressed at caucus, including anger.

"There was lots of people that wanted to speak, and that's totally normal," he said afterwards.

He said the tone was "mostly positive."

The NDP had been criticized for allowing government business to grind to a virtual halt during the leadership campaign, and it appears leadership politics is still weighing things down.

Wednesday's caucus session followed a cabinet meeting that lasted little more than an hour, the Free Press was told.

Asked whether decisions on the timing of the provincial budget or the looming deadline for a byelection in The Pas had been made at caucus, Selinger said: "Those are for another time. Today was just about coming together as a group in caucus, and we had a really good turnout."

The rebel MLAs were not invited to the meeting, and it's not known how long their fate will be left up in the air.

Selinger and caucus chairman Matt Wiebe (Concordia) indicated months ago a committee would be struck to explore a possible reconciliation. That never happened.

A committee could set conditions for full participation by rebels and gauge whether there is interest among dissidents in meeting these terms.

Of the six NDP MLAs who urged Selinger to step down last fall, three have indicated they intend to run for re-election in the 2016 general election — Minto MLA Andrew Swan, Fort Rouge MLA Jennifer Howard and Flin Flon MLA Clarence Pettersen.

Oswald has not announced her intentions and declined comment on Wednesday. Dauphin MLA Stan Struthers has said he is discussing his political future with his family.

Former health minister Erin Selby (Southdale) said in an email Wednesday the ball is in Selinger's court.

"The premier only won by 33 votes. If he's serious about bringing together the caucus and the party, I'm open to listening to what he says," she said. "I understand there was a caucus meeting today that the six of us weren't invited to. I'll be interested to know what comes out of that."

A seventh NDP MLA, Christine Melnick, is also prevented from attending caucus meetings after criticizing Selinger in the past.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

Read more by Larry Kusch.

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History

Updated on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 6:30 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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