City & Politics, Columns, Politics

The shameful end of Greg Selinger’s premiership

Greg Selinger will not lead Manitoba’s NDP into the next election. Despite his intention to do just that, articulated at a hastily organized press conference with a rag-tag collection of caucus members days ago, his tenure at the helm of the New Democratic Party in Manitoba is all but over. It’s a matter of formality now—and a truly ignominious one at that.

Cabinet solidarity is a fundamental principle of our style of government. At its root, it means differences that may arise around the Cabinet table stay there. Like what happens in Las Vegas; though less Wynn and more Westminster. Indeed, maintaining solidarity is paramount: to the public, Cabinet-led governments must remain united.

This principle was shattered recently by a cabal of Selinger’s most senior ministers, including Manitoba’s Ministers of Finance, of Health, and of Jobs and the Economy (whatever that means).

Of course, the cracks had already started to show long before Jennifer Howard, Theresa Oswald, Stan Struthers, Erin Selby and Andrew Swan all intimated they’d lost confidence in their prime Minister. Whispers have been circulating through the halls of the Manitoba Legislature for months.

He has to go.
He’s a liability.
We’re going to lose if he stays.

In some circles there’s talk a deal had been reached as early as the spring that would have seen the Premier step aside. No dice.

And so Manitobans now find themselves in the peculiar situation of seeing firsthand what an attempted coup d’etat looks like, Westminster style. Admittedly, though, this one is about as sophisticated as a secondary school student council election.

Not that the usurpers have been held to account for their part in this unfolding fiasco. No, the overarching story remains: Selinger is no longer fit to lead. This may well be true. In fact, if his (in)action since his Cabinet’s solidarity was breached is any indication, it’s absolutely true: Selinger has yet to do anything to reprimand—let alone dismiss—those members of his Cabinet who’ve violated this sacred trust.

Which is why it is all but certain he will not lead the NDP into the next election.

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Sadly, the story won’t end with his departure, when it comes. Nor should it. Those individuals, named and unnamed, who covet the Premiership ought to be held to account for their remarkable acts of disloyalty and dishonour. Moreover, voters ought not give a free pass to whomever assumes the helm of Manitoba’s governing party ahead of the next election (which will surely occur well past the legislated date). As it will likely be a member of the current government, he or she ought to be made to wear the same very heavy mantle Selinger donned when he replaced Gary Doer. They will, after all, be of the same party and leading the same government Selinger led until his humiliating exit, when it comes.

Such brazen acts of political insubordination aren’t new. Nor are they unique to the NDP or to Manitoba. Thankfully, though, they remain uncommon. And for good reason. Because, despite pleadings from NDP insiders and the Premier himself this is an internal party matter, the fact remains this breach of Cabinet solidarity strikes at the very heart of government and ought to concern every Manitoban. How, for example, can the government possibly function when 5 of its Ministers of the Crown refuse to acknowledge the Premier’s role as Prime Minister? How can we possibly expect our Cabinet-style government to lead if the Cabinet itself is aflame?

It can’t. We can’t. It won’t. It doesn’t.

Even though Ministers Howard, Selby, Struthers, Oswald and Swan are as much to blame for the current imbroglio embroiling Manitoba’s Legislature, Greg Selinger will pay the political price.

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