Manitoba

Greg Selinger accused of making union deals to win NDP leadership

The NDP leadership race is over and Greg Selinger staying on as premier and party leader, but Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says he believes Selinger cut deals with union leaders to secure the win — a claim the premier says is not true.

Leadership contest was a 'drive-by attack on democracy,' says PC Leader Brian Pallister

Greg Selinger responds to 'union deals' allegation. CBC's Chris Glover reports.

8 years ago
Duration 1:55
Leadership contest was a 'drive-by attack on democracy,' says PC Leader Brian Pallister

The NDP leadership race is over and Greg Selinger staying on as premier and party leader, but Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says he believes Selinger cut deals with union leaders to secure the win.

Selinger fended off challenges from former cabinet ministers Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton to keep his job at the party's leadership convention in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Pallister said the fact that New Democrats voted back Selinger, who faced a revolt from former members of his own cabinet last year, reflects poorly on the party.

Furthermore, he said NDP members didn't have a say in the outcome of the leadership race, but the unions did.

Premier Greg Selinger says he wants family members to be properly represented at the next roundtable. (CBC)
"This was a drive-by attack on democracy," Pallister told reporters.

"We need a province where everybody feels like they're equal and they have an equal opportunity for success. And I don't think if you ask the NDP members who were in that hall this weekend, they feel that way, and I know Manitobans don't feel that way."

Part of Selinger's success came from union support. He came into Sunday's convention with the backing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

He later gained delegates from the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg after Ashton was dropped from the ballot following the first round of voting.

"The premier of Manitoba is now the premier because he cut deals with public-sector union bosses in a back room last week and he guaranteed himself … the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers, he somehow got the firefighters to support him, and he did that with taxpayers' money and he needs to come clean on what he promised those groups," Pallister said.

"Those are union boss leaders who, quite rightly, are fighting for the best interest of their members, and they would have directed their votes to go in support of Premier Selinger for a reason. They didn't do it for a lark."

Selinger committed to 'treat people fairly'

Selinger said Pallister's claims are not accurate.

"I made it very clear that I would not be making any specific commitment to anybody other than to treat people fairly and make sure that whatever we do serves the best interests of Manitobans," he said.

United Fire Fighters president Alex Forrest agreed that no deal was made.

"It was a very tough decision to begin with whether we were going to support Greg Selinger or Steve Ashton, but there were no backroom deals. There was none of that," Forrest told CBC News.

"Premier Selinger has been a tremendous advocate for firefighters — for resources, for assisting us to be able to do our job, making tremendous changes to workplace health and safety — so that's why we went to Greg Selinger on that second ballot."

Selinger will take the party into the next provincial election, scheduled for April 2016.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said NDP members didn't have a say in the outcome of Sunday's party leadership race, but the unions did. (CBC)
​Flin Flon NDP MLA Clarence Pettersen said the internal turmoil and the leadership race were tough on everyone in the part, but he looks forward to the future.

"I think Greg himself has changed," Pettersen said.

"I think we needed a shakeup, we got a shakeup, and because of the shakeup we're going to move forward in a unified team."

Pallister said now that the NDP leadership race is over, he hopes MLAs can "get back into the business that matters to Manitobans instead of watching this curious infighting."

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