The workings of government appear to be paralyzed by the crisis gripping the provincial NDP.

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The workings of government appear to be paralyzed by the crisis gripping the provincial NDP.

A cabinet spokesman on Friday was unable to tell the Free Press when cabinet would next meet -- or when Treasury Board, the committee of cabinet that approves government spending, would gather next.

Those who do business with government say things have come almost to a standstill within the legislature as the standoff plays out between Premier Greg Selinger and those within his caucus who want him to resign.

The building was unusually quiet Friday.

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister was there, though, repeating his demands the government call a new sitting of the legislature and lay out its game plan in a throne speech.

'Right now what we're seeing is a government that's so dysfunctional and so preoccupied with its internal battles that it's failing the democratic rights of Manitobans' ‐ PC Leader Brian Pallister

"Right now what we're seeing is a government that's so dysfunctional and so preoccupied with its internal battles that it's failing the democratic rights of Manitobans," Pallister said.

The New Democrats normally call a three-week sitting of the legislature beginning in mid-November.

Bruce Owen / Winnipeg Free Press
Politicians normally return to the legislature in mid-November for a throne speech. So far, there�s been no indication that will happen.

Bruce Owen / Winnipeg Free Press Politicians normally return to the legislature in mid-November for a throne speech. So far, there�s been no indication that will happen.

As of Friday, however, there was no word on whether that would happen.

On Monday, two members of Selinger's cabinet, Finance Minister Jennifer Howard and Municipal Affairs Minister Stan Struthers, suggested publicly the premier should resign.

That followed a Saturday report in the Free Press that said the premier had lost the support of as many as half his caucus and a number of high-ranking party members.

On Tuesday, as three more cabinet ministers added their names to the list suggesting Selinger ponder his future, the premier called a dramatic news conference in which he pledged to remain on the job.

On Thursday, it was revealed the five ministers who openly questioned his leadership would remain in their jobs -- at least for now. They agreed to meet Selinger but there was no indication as of Friday when the two sides would meet.

Kelly Saunders, a Brandon University political scientist, said while a throne speech can be put off until 2015, work must proceed on a budget and cabinet needs to meet.

"I don't know, frankly, how the premier can go on. I was anticipating a resignation by the end of the week," she said late Friday.

Selinger cannot continue to govern without the support of his senior cabinet members, Saunders said.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files 
 Opposition Leader Brian Pallister wants a throne speech.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Opposition Leader Brian Pallister wants a throne speech.

"I don't see how this can go on. And it can't go on for Manitobans either. They need to know that this is a government dealing with the pressing problems of the economy and health care and infrastructure -- and that they have confidence in their leaders. And right now I don't think anybody can say that," she said.

"The clock is ticking, I would imagine," she added.

Allen Mills, a political scientist at the University of Winnipeg, said the situation could drag out for some time, if Selinger and his detractors fail to make a move.

There are no rules forcing one side or the other to act, Mills said.

And the process for removing a leader within the New Democratic Party would take time.

"It's a very complicated chess game," he said.

Both sides will take an increasing political hit as the crisis drags on, Mills said.

"The public, I think, is going to see Selinger increasingly as weak, and the five of them as essentially ineffective," he said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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.

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