Manitoba·Updated

Race is on to sell party memberships in NDP leadership campaign

The race is on to sell party memberships in the lead up to the NDP leadership election in March, and some party faithful are still discouraged Premier Greg Selinger will be allowed to remain in his position during the race.

Selinger 'calling in all his "IOUs" over the past three or four weeks,' says political scientist

The race is on to sell party memberships in the lead up to the NDP leadership election in March, and some party faithful are still discouraged Premier Greg Selinger will remain in his position during the race. 2:00

The race is on to sell party memberships in the lead up to the NDP leadership election in March, and some party faithful are still discouraged Premier Greg Selinger will remain in his position during the race.
On Monday, MLA Andrew Swan repeated calls asking Premier Greg Selinger to step down during the impending leadership race. (CBC)

"It's quite clear to most Manitobans that the right thing to do is to step down,” said MLA Andrew Swan on Monday. “I still expect the premier, and any cabinet minister who wants to run, should do that."

Last Saturday NDP delegates voted to allow Selinger to stay in power for the duration of the race. Delegates also approved ground rules for the leadership race and determined some important dates leading up to the vote in early March.

I think there are a number of people who are actively selling memberships on behalf of potential candidates or on behalf of the premier- Becky Barrett, NDP vice-president

Those vying for Selinger’s job can officially declare their leadership campaigns starting Dec. 15. Contenders will have until Jan. 6 to make a case for why they should be Manitoba’s next premier.

Short on time

Anyone hoping to vote in the race has to be an NDP member by Jan. 6.

"It’s a pretty tall task,” said Allen Mills, a political scientist and professor at the University of Winnipeg.

"Because, of course, we're only talking about four weeks away. A week of that is Christmas, so we're talking three weeks for a membership drive, which is not a great deal of time."

Mills said the short window of time makes for an unfair fight and that it is working to Selinger’s advantage.

"Greg Selinger has been calling in all his ‘IOUs’ over the past three or four weeks and I think it’s working for him," said Mills.

Memberships Sold

Becky Barrett, NDP vice-president, said she believes the rules are fair because the membership drive unofficially started weeks ago.

"'I think there are a number of people who are actively selling memberships on behalf of potential candidates or on behalf of the premier," said Barrett.

Barrett was the first to publicly ask the premier step down. She was also Andrew Swan’s campaign manager in the 2009 leadership race, and a seasoned veteran in the campaign game, having been a part of more than 30 NDP campaigns at every level of government. 

Swan was one of five ministers who called on the premier to resign last month. Theresa Oswald is the only one of the five outspoken ministers who has announced she is considering running.

Steve Ashton, who ran and lost in the 2009 leadership race, has not said whether he intends on running.

So far, Selinger is the only one to come out and say he is running.