Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger has appointed new cabinet ministers to replace five members who started a revolt against his leadership and resigned their posts today.
The ministers who resigned on Monday morning — known informally as the "Gang of Five" — cited "turmoil" and "grave concerns" about not being able to speak their minds in government.
However, the five outgoing ministers said they will remain staunch New Democratic members of the legislative assembly and vote with the government on issues in the legislature.
The five are:
- Jennifer Howard, Fort Rouge, former minister of finance.
- Stan Struthers, Dauphin, former minister of municipal government.
- Theresa Oswald, Seine River, former minister for jobs and the economy.
- Andrew Swan, Minto, former minister of justice.
- Erin Selby, Southdale, former minister of health.
Their replacements were sworn in during a ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature this afternoon.
The new ministers include:
- Greg Dewar, minister of finance.
- Deanne Crothers, minister of healthy living and seniors.
- Drew Caldwell, minister of municipal government.
- Melanie Wight, minister of children and youth opportunities.
"Today, as we inaugurate a new cabinet, I would like to acknowledge each of those leaving for their contributions to building our province," Selinger said near the end of the ceremony.
"Manitobans have elected a dedicated, diverse and experienced group of New Democratic MLAs who represent every region of our province and draw experience from a wide variety of fields. With this new cabinet, we draw from the strengths of our talented caucus."
Four newcomers have joined cabinet, while Selinger changed and/or added to the portfolios of six existing cabinet members.
Dewar, the Selkirk MLA, replaces Howard as finance minister. The appointment marks his first cabinet post.
During the ceremony, Selinger said Dewar brings "deep experience as a member of the legislature," including five years as vice-chair of the public accounts committee, five years on the treasury board and two years as the legislative assistant to the finance minister.
Caldwell, the Brandon East MLA, had previously served in cabinet from 1999 to 2003. He replaces Struthers as the minister of municipal government.
The audience cheered and clapped as the premier introduced Eric Robinson, who receives additional duties in cabinet, as "the first-ever aboriginal minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro."
A news release detailing the changes was sent out a couple of hours after the five ministers resigned, saying they had lost confidence in Selinger's leadership.
The changes mean the cabinet is reduced to 18 ministers from 19.
The following ministers have had their roles changed or enhanced:
- James Allum, minister of justice.
- Sharon Blady, minister of health.
- Kevin Chief, minister of jobs and the economy.
- Kerri Irvin-Ross, minister of housing and community development, minister responsible for persons with disabilities.
- Eric Robinson, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro.
- Peter Bjornson, minister of education and advanced learning.
Call election now, says Liberal leader
While Selinger is hoping the cabinet shuffle will settle the internal revolt, opposition leaders say an election is needed to resolve the matter once and for all.
Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said Selinger should call an election immediately and let Manitobans decide the best direction for the province.
"It is apparent that the NDP government is going through unprecedented turmoil. Five of the government's key ministries have lost their leaders and the premier seems determined to continue forward with business as usual," Bokhari stated in a news release Monday.
"Unfortunately that is impossible. There has been no call for a fall session thus far. The NDP has long been out of touch with the people of this province and with the resignation of five of their most senior ministers, Premier Selinger and the NDP have lost the faith of Manitobans."