Selinger defends PST increase first weekend on NDP leadership campaign trail

Premier Greg Selinger reaffirmed that he will stand by the government's controversial PST increase if re-elected as the leader of the provincial NDP.

Minister of Finance Greg Dewar declared NDP candidate for Selkirk at nomination meeting Sunday

RAW: Selinger committed to maintaining PST increase if elected

8 years ago
Duration 0:47
Greg Selinger tells CBC's Chris Glover he is committed to keeping the controversial PST increase program in place for another eight years if elected.

Premier Greg Selinger reaffirmed that he will stand by the government's controversial PST increase if re-elected as the leader of the provincial NDP.

Greg Selinger hit the campaign trail Sunday hoping to garner more support ahead of the provincial NDP leadership election in March and to talk with members about his record as premier thus far.

Selinger's first stop was at a nomination meeting in Selkirk, where he told members why he believes he is still the candidate best suited to lead the party.

"We will have a political party called the New Democratic Party that's even stronger after going through this leadership contest, with more members and more vitality and more dynamism and more desire to go out there and serve the people of Manitoba," said Selinger. "That's exactly what we want to do." 

Selinger's rival candidates are promising to revisit the party's controversial sales tax increase. 

Former minister of health Theresa Oswald wants a PST rebate for low income Manitobans; former minister of infrastructure Steve Ashton has promised to hold a referendum if elected that could see the tax increase scrapped altogether.
Premier Greg Selinger said Sunday the provincial NDP will emerge from the forthcoming leadership elections stronger than before. Minister of Finance Greg Dewar (right) was acclaimed as the NDP candidate for Selkirk at a nomination meeting Sunday and said he looked forward to working alongside Selinger in the future. (Chris Glover/CBC)

The premier refused to comment on the merits of Oswald's and Ashton's PST plans at the nomination meeting, instead defending the government's decision to raise the PST.

Given the opportunity, Selinger said he is committed to keeping the PST increase in place for the next eight years.

"We're two years into that program. We committed that money to major infrastructure and after the next eight years that program will be phased out," said Selinger.

Selinger remained coy when asked whether he would be ramping up campaign efforts in the lead up to the March 8 leadership election.

"We'll see as it unfolds, I've always said my first priority is to fulfill the mandate the people of Manitoba gave us, and that mandate was to provide them with good government." 

Finance minister standing by Selinger

At the Sunday nomination meeting, Minister of Finance Greg Dewar was named the NDP candidate who will be representing Selkirk in the next election.

Dewar was promoted to cabinet in November during the rebellion, when five ministers called on Selinger to quit and then resigned.

He thanked the premier for the opportunity to serve in cabinet and applauded Selinger, saying he "dealt with adversity with honour and dignity."

Dewar said he believes the leadership race will help resolve the party's crisis.

"I think its possible," he said. "I've known these people for many years, they are my friends, and we'll come together as a solid party afterwards and we'll move forward."

When asked whether Oswald or Ashton would get his support were Selinger to lose the election, Dewar said "we'd have to wait and see."

"I'm confident that Premier Selinger will get elected."


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