Dave Gaudreau, defeated NDP candidate, says Greg Selinger 'destroyed everything'
'People hated Greg,' says ousted St. Norbert MLA, who says he's done with politics
A Manitoba NDP candidate who lost his seat in Tuesday's provincial election blames outgoing leader Greg Selinger for the party's defeat.
Dave Gaudreau, who lost the St. Norbert seat he held for the last four years, said Selinger should have stepped down when a caucus rebellion erupted in 2014.
As Gaudreau cleared out his constituency and campaign offices and handed in his MLA phone on Wednesday morning, he said the party could have won under a different leader.
"It's clearly the Greg Selinger factor that destroyed everything," he told CBC News in an interview.
"I mean, that's all I heard for the whole campaign. People hated Greg, and I heard it day in and day out for six weeks. I called it Groundhog Day, everyday on the doorstep."
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The NDP campaign was very flawed because it featured Selinger prominently in advertisements, even though his personal popularity was very low, Gaudreau said.
Other defeated candidates, including Deanne Crothers and Melanie Wight, have not blamed Selinger, and have said the defeat was due to a public desire for change after almost 17 years of NDP rule.
In the fall of 2014, Selinger refused to quit as NDP leader amid the resignations of five high-profile MLAs from cabinet.
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The revolt was prompted in large part by Selinger's decision a year earlier to raise the provincial sales tax from seven to eight per cent — something he had promised in the 2011 election campaign he would not do.
The caucus rebellion prompted the NDP to hold a leadership contest in the spring of 2015, which Selinger won by a close margin.
Spoken out in the past
On Tuesday, Selinger announced he will step down as NDP leader and the party will find an interim replacement until a leadership convention can be held.
Gaudreau had spoken out about Selinger's unpopularity before, reportedly leaving a caucus meeting in anger in February after telling NDP members he was hearing a lot of negative comments about the leader.
His open dissent had political observers suggesting that the NDP was imploding.
Gaudreau also had sharp criticism for the so-called "Gang of Five" ex-cabinet ministers who rebelled against Selinger.
"What I wish is that the Gang of Five never did what they did, because that led to all of the events that happened," he said.
"I can never support or condone what they did because that's not how we handle things. That's just the wrong way of going about it."
As for his own future, Gaudreau said he is done with politics. Instead, he plans to resume his job as a welder.
With files from the CBC's Chris Glover and The Canadian Press