Greg Selinger 'not going to lose sleep' over Harper's barbs with premiers
Conservative leader traded shots with premiers of Ontario and Alberta earlier this week
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says he's not surprised to see Conservative Leader Stephen Harper trading barbs with two other premiers as the federal election campaign gets underway.
Harper took shots at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne earlier this week, but Selinger said he's not concerned about whether he may be next.
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"I'm not going to lose sleep about what might happen. When it occurs, if anything occurs, you deal with it in real time," Selinger told CBC News on Wednesday.
Notley fired back at Harper, saying her government's priority is to protect the jobs of "regular working families" rather than "wealthy Conservative friends and insiders."
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The next day, after Wynne criticized Harper's decision to call an 11-week campaign — the longest federal election campaign in modern history — Harper suggested it was Wynne's poor performance as Ontario's premier that was to blame for their frosty relationship.
Wynne has said she will campaign hard for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leading up to the Oct. 19 election.
"Well, I would say it's pretty obvious we're in an election," Selinger said.
"When you get into an election, people can make more partisan comments, and I think those comments reflect that fact that he's just hot on the campaign trail."
Selinger added that premiers do have a right to defend themselves publicly.
"I think the premiers have to put the record straight," he said.
"If misinformation has been put out there, or if they've been put under a negative cast in terms of what the prime minister is saying … the premiers always will speak up for themselves."
Worked together during 2011 flood
Selinger said he and Harper have had disagreements in the past, but they worked well together during the 2011 flood and on other occasions.
The premier added that he wants to make sure Ottawa properly invests in health care, infrastructure and natural disaster management, and does not reduce federal funding contributions to the provinces.
Selinger's New Democrats will be vying for a fifth majority government in a provincial election set for April 2016.
But given a bitter leadership contest that saw Selinger fighting to keep his job earlier this year, and his poor performance in recent polls, it's not likely that Selinger will be targeted by Harper anytime soon, says Winnipeg-based political analyst Chris Adams.
"I think it's a different situation for Manitoba. I don't think he sees Selinger as a threat. I don't think he sees the provincial NDP as a powerhouse to go after," Adams said.