By Roger Currie
A week ago it appeared that Manitoba might be getting ready to swear in our first woman premier. In the gong show which has been politics in the Keystone province for the past several months, 49-year-old Theresa Oswald appeared to have the necessary momentum and support to unseat Greg Selinger, who had held the job since 2009. But it was not to be.
At the end of a weird process that included backroom horse trading with union bosses, and other less than noble activity, Mr. Selinger prevailed on the second ballot by a margin of 33 votes. I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a part of him that would rather have lost and been done with it all.
Selinger must now preside over an NDP caucus that has never been so divided, and try to pull it all together and take on Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives 13 months from now. The premier must also face the legislature and bring down a new budget in the next few weeks.
He appears to be in no hurry to try and heal the wounds, if indeed he even wants to. The gang of five, who were led by Oswald, are still on the outside looking in. Not surprisingly, several talented and experienced political operatives who worked for Oswald and the other leadership challenger, Steve Ashton, have been shown the door.
The NDP may be the ‘natural governing party’ in Manitoba. They have run things for 31 of the past 46 years, but the Greg Selinger version appears to be well past its best before date. Democracy works best if there are at least two viable choices.
Next year’s election should belong to Brian Pallister and the Tories. So far he has given no indication of being the second coming of Duff Roblin, or even Gary Filmon, but perhaps it’s early yet.
Politics in Manitoba — anything but dull.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.