Teary-eyed Greg Selinger emerges from final Manitoba cabinet meeting as premier

Outgoing Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger chaired his final cabinet meeting Friday, as his party begins to rebuild after a staggering defeat in Tuesday's provincial election.

'It's a challenging role': Selinger says next NDP leader must have energy and dedication

"People are definitely grieving the loss and feeling some of the pain," says a teary-eyed Greg Selinger as he emerges from his last cabinet meeting as premier. (CBC)

Outgoing Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger chaired his final cabinet meeting Friday, as his party begins to rebuild after a staggering defeat in Tuesday's provincial election.

"It was a heartfelt meeting — a meeting that was emotional for all of us, but also a meeting that started the process of healing and reconciliation within our political party," he said. "We did talk to each other honestly about [the loss]."

The NDP only held onto 14 seats in the Manitoba Legislature, including Selinger's St. Boniface seat, when voters cast their ballots in the election Tuesday. They won 37 seats in the last general election in 2011.

I'm a little disheartened and disappointed in the whole thing, but I'm still only 57 years young so there's got to be something before fading off into the sunset- Tom Nevakshonoff, outgoing conservation minister

The Progressive Conservatives stormed to power with a modern-era record 40 seats and a strong mandate to lead Manitoba for the next four years.

PC Leader Brian Pallister will officially become premier soon, and his office announced Friday his cabinet will be sworn in on May 3.

Selinger accepted responsibility for the trouncing his party received when he made his concession speech on Tuesday evening. He resigned immediately, but said Friday he is "very honoured" to continue as the MLA for St. Boniface.

"You know people are definitely grieving the loss and feeling some of the pain, and that's a normal reaction to an election where several people lost their seats and we lost government," he said.

"It's a time to renew and reconnect and do the things we need to do to move forward as a province, as a people in Manitoba."

The NDP must soon pick an interim boss to lead the party until another full-blown leadership convention can be held. 

Selinger just barely won the right to lead the party at a convention in March 2015, beating former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald by 33 votes. He called the leadership race after five of his top ministers, including Oswald, rebelled and quit his cabinet.

Outgoing Manitoba premier Greg Selinger goofs around, then gets choked up after an emotional last cabinet meeting for the NDP government. 1:48

Selinger tears up as he talks about 'challenging role' 

Still showing obvious wounds, the outgoing leader choked up as he offered advice to any New Democrat mulling a run at the leadership.

"We have to give them some time to think about that and of course consult their families and decide if they want to play that role, because it's a challenging role," he said, holding back tears. "It takes lots of time and energy and a real dedication. So it's still too early to … identify specific individuals at this time."

Of the New Democrats heading back to the legislature, Fort Garry-Riverview MLA James Allum is considered by some as a possible contender for interim leader and Point Douglas MLA Kevin Chief is often considered leadership material.

Both Allum and Chief were at Selinger's farewell cabinet meeting Friday, but they declined to comment on leadership aspirations.

Selinger also wouldn't talk about who would replace him.

"This is not for me to say today," he said. "This is something that caucus and the executive and the provincial council want to weigh in on, but the process has started on discussion on that."

'It's a thrill,' says defeated cabinet minister

Twelve ministers from Greg Selinger's cabinet were defeated in the election. Among the most stunning defeats for the New Democrats were those of Thompson New Democrat Steve Ashton and Brandon East New Democrat Drew Caldwell.

The pair of outgoing cabinet ministers didn't speak publicly Friday.

Interlake MLA Tom Nevakshonoff was first elected in 1999 but was only promoted to cabinet during the rebellion against Selinger.

Outgoing Conservation Minister Tom Nevakshonoff says he plans to do some hunting, after Interlake voters elect a Progressive Conservative for the first time ever. (CBC)
"It's been a real honour, you know," Nevakshonoff said, fighting back tears. "Just to be in this building, it's something that never goes away. It never gets old. Every time you walk up those steps between those pillars, it's a thrill, and going into this [cabinet] room even more so. So you know I will miss it, but I'm just really honoured and happy to have had the experience." 

Still stinging from his defeat in the Interlake, Nevakshonoff said it was too early to say whether he'd ever run for office again.

"Hard to say at this point, you know. To be honest with you, I'm a little disheartened and disappointed in the whole thing, but I'm still only 57 years young, so there's got to be something before fading off into the sunset," he said. "I think I'll go hunting this fall. I haven't shot a big deer for quite a few years."

'I was living the dream,' outgoing CFS minister says

Fort Richmond New Democrat Kerri Irvin-Ross also lost her seat Tuesday. She was one of Selinger's strongest allies during the rebellion and picked up several cabinet posts during the unrest.

"It's a new chapter, that's what I'm excited for," she said with a brave face. "I'm leaving standing tall, respecting the decision of all Manitobans and looking forward."

The longtime minister was at the helm of perhaps the most challenging portfolio in Manitoba, overseeing Child and Family Services.

"I always tell people I never dreamed that this opportunity would happen for me, and for it to last for 13 years, I was living the dream," said Irvin-Ross. "I think I need some time to look at what the options are."

The New Democrat said she will not "close any doors" in terms of running for office again.

"I'm going to go clean my garage for a little while," she said with a cheeky grin.

About the Author

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris spent half a decade as a political reporter for CBC Winnipeg, but now that he's returned to his hometown of Toronto, he's excitedly sinking his teeth in all sorts of stories. Discovering new neighbourhoods isn't a 9 to 5 job and after years away, he has a lot to catch up on. When he's not running around the city with a camera, you can find him on the island soaking up the sun or riding the trails along the Don River.

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