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This article was published 27/8/2009 (3734 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE premier had barely finished his resignation address Thursday when observers started wondering who would be a good fit to fill Gary Doer's shoes.
All potential replacements are cabinet ministers and most are familiar to Manitobans. None was available to speak on Thursday as the party decided to give the day to Doer and his accomplishments — and not insider politics. Here are the possible contenders:
Finance Minister Greg Selinger
Selinger, a former St. Boniface city councillor, was first elected as an MLA in 1999 and has served as finance minister since. Long considered by political observers as a front-runner, he has not indicated he will seek the leadership. He's bilingual, well-spoken, a tough combatant in the legislature. "If Selinger does run, it should give us some indication that the books look good and that's really bad news for the Tories," one observer said.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald
First elected in 2003, the former teacher might be perhaps the first out of the blocks in the upcoming leadership race. The website draftoswald.blogspot.com popped up by midday Thursday promoting her as the province's first female premier. But how much involvement Oswald actually has with the site is unknown. Last year she asked that it be removed. She's managed the politically risky health portfolio "quite successfully," said University of Manitoba political scientist Paul Thomas, who said Oswald "seems to be down-to-earth and very human in the way she presents herself and her ideas." She will face a tough test this fall on the front lines of the government's defences against the looming second wave of the H1N1 flu virus.
Elmwood MLA Bill Blaikie
The former longtime MP was elected last spring in a byelection and until Thursday was considered a shoo-in for cabinet. Now he could toss his hat into a leadership race — something that had been speculated when he decided to end his political retirement and run for provincial office. A preacher prior to politics, Blaikie wouldn't give the opposition much to shoot at in terms of ethical concerns, said U of M political scientist Jared Wesley.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Ashton
The Thompson MLA was first elected in 1981 and is popular throughout the North. His daughter is recently elected Churchill MP Niki Ashton. Not considered a front-runner but, given the fact the new leader will be elected by delegates — not a membership vote — he could play a role in deciding the outcome.
Competitiveness, Training and Trade Minister Andrew Swan
The Minto MLA and lawyer was elected in a 2004 byelection. He was elevated to cabinet more than a year ago and was considered to be a candidate for attorney general. Swan has been a rising star in the Doer cabinet. Some NDP insiders say that since he and Hugh McFadyen were both classmates at Silver Heights Collegiate, Swan could counter the youthful advantage the Tory leader has on his side.
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There are also several NDP MLAs, including at least three cabinet ministers, who are said not to be running in the next provincial election, which is slated for October 2011.
In an earlier interview with the Free Press, he had planned a cabinet shuffle for this fall, but with his resignation, likely to take effect in early October, that shuffle will be done by his successor.
"I would recommend to the incoming person that there's an opportunity here for renewal not just in leadership, but the team in cabinet," Doer said. "We have a ton of talent.
"If you continue to renew and be energetic and govern in a new way for all people, the party will be in very good shape and the province will be in very good shape."
He said a new leader brings in new people and they bring in new ideas.
"You cannot just stand on, 'Oh, I won so elect me again.' You need renewal."
— Bruce Owen, Larry Kusch
ONTARIO PREMIER DALTON McGUINTY
'My colleagues and I have been inspired by his boundless energy, his infectious passion for public service and his deep love for our country and its people'
FORMER ALBERTA PREMIER RALPH KLEIN
'During premiers' conferences we put our political differences behind... He gave me a trip to see the polar bears at Churchill... It was a retirement gift'
B.C. PREMIER GORDON CAMPBELL
'I think he's someone who looks for solutions... who's been willing to look at the world and deal with the facts that are there on behalf of the people of his province'
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.