For months, if not years, the NDP government has been in chaos.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/11/2014 (2539 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For months, if not years, the NDP government has been in chaos.

But it was all carefully kept secret, diligently kept from public view and certainly away from the media.

Premier Greg Selinger announces he will stay on as leader of the NDP at a news conference Tuesday.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Premier Greg Selinger announces he will stay on as leader of the NDP at a news conference Tuesday.

It was a problem within the family that even close relatives weren't supposed to know about, and certainly not the neighbours.

Only when Selinger cancelled a trip to China as part of trade mission did the family secret begin to slowly come out, like a confession.

The wounds, those divisions, those ill feelings and perhaps even hatred are now out in the open.

The increase of the provincial sales tax, forced municipal amalgamation and the yanking of video-lottery terminal revenue from the Manitoba Jockey Club are three of the higher-profile, government-inspired initiatives behind that confession.

Perhaps all were needed. Perhaps all really were sound policies. But all were dreadfully handled by the NDP.

None were completely thought out. They were just imposed. Just like that. Just because.

All backfired to varying degrees. All made the NDP government under Premier Greg Selinger look weak and ineffectual.

Were these three issues discussed by caucus before landing at cabinet? Were they part of the NDP's agenda or Selinger's?

The damage from each of these divisive initiatives has been worn by others, not just Selinger. Other cabinet ministers were thrown in front of the cameras to explain what happened and why. In some instances, such as with the jockey club, the damage was made even worse.

Fast forward to today. The question on everyone's minds is what happens next.

Who blinks first? Selinger or his cabinet detractors?

To suggest the five ministers -- Andrew Swan, Jennifer Howard, Theresa Oswald, Stan Struthers and Erin Selby -- are acting independently would not be entirely accurate. There are more of them, and in snippets of conversation with other ministers and MLAs, you get the feeling these five were designated to speak out because of their higher rank in government.

They didn't draw straws. They would not have deliberately stepped out from the shadows to assail Selinger if they did not have the support of the majority of caucus and senior staff.

There might be a disagreement about how things ended up being handled and portrayed, but there is little, if any, argument from the NDP caucus on the need for it to be done.

No one in caucus has said it was outright wrong for the five ministers to attack the premier. None of them is calling for the five to resign. Some have complained the matter should have been kept behind closed doors, but that's as far as the condemnation goes.

And they must have known, or certainly should have known, Selinger would not go quietly.

They've watched for months as Selinger failed to acknowledge the depth to which the NDP has fallen since 2011. They've watched him shrug his shoulders and continue on like nothing's happened.

Something had to be done to finally get his attention -- nothing else has worked. And the chance of any of them voluntarily resigning their cabinet posts is slim to none. If they go, so must their supporters.

Who knows what the next few days -- let's hope it's not weeks -- will bring.

With this apparent stalemate, the business of the government will grind to a halt, if it hasn't already.

Government announcements have slowed down to less than a trickle. What does get sent out can safely be ignored. And certainly, we don't hear these two words anymore: ministerial availability.

With the growing likelihood of no throne speech, with no fall sitting, the government becomes even more isolated, even more irrelevant.

Again, who blinks first?

I think we already know. It's just a matter of when.

 

Bruce Owen blogs on the Free Press website.