Even with all of the turmoil that surrounds the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) here in Manitoba, one thing remains clear: Greg Selinger is determined to stay the course.
While Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald make their best pitch ahead of the NDP leadership convention slated for early March, the premier has quietly gone about his business as usual.
That’s the key. Rather than getting into a war of words with the two individuals vying for his job, Selinger has continued to focus on the task at hand, which is to serve the needs of Manitobans.
It would be easy for Selinger to engage in a political battle with Ashton and Oswald. After all, they represent two very serious threats to him. But this leadership race is all about who gives the NDP the best chance at winning the 2016 provincial election and ultimately, that comes down to who is most capable of serving as premier.
I would argue that Selinger is in a position where simply continuing his daily duties as premier gives him the best chance at victory in the leadership race. What better way to convince the members of your party that you are capable of being premier in the future than by serving as an effective premier in the present?
Ashton and Oswald do not have that luxury. While they are making campaign promises, shaking hands, posing for photos and doing what candidates do, Selinger is attending meetings in Ottawa, visiting First Nations communities up north and doing what premiers do. Selinger is not acting like a candidate, nor should he be.
This all makes for a truly unique political situation - one that may yield surprising results come March 8.
Selinger’s composed behavior is a testament to his character. Being subjected to a caucus revolt and having several members of your party lose confidence in you is enough to enough to crack even the most unflappable politician. In fact, I don’t think too many people would have been surprised if Selinger had chosen to step down in light of the chaos that has taken over the Manitoba legislature. If he manages to overcome this, it will be remarkable.
The NDP has had a good run in this province. Yes, they’ve spent a lot of money, but that money has been put towards improving the public services in Manitoba. A couple of examples are Investors Group Field and the emergence of several brand new, state of the art schools. With that being said, sometimes the political world needs some balance. Perhaps it is time for the Progressive Conservatives to take over, cut back on spending and attempt to balance the books.
It is very unlikely that Greg Selinger will still be the premier after the next election. But that does not diminish the fact that he chose to take the high road in the face of some very adversarial circumstances. Where that road will lead is still up in the air.
Nolan Kowal is graduating with a degree in Rhetoric and Communications this April. He plans to attend Red River College’s Creative Communications in the fall, where he hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.