NEWS

Greg Selinger says he'll stay on as Manitoba premier

10/28/2014 05:08 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says he will stay put as leader, despite calls from several current and former NDP cabinet ministers that he consider resigning amid the party's faltering public support.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Selinger said he is focused on serving the province.

"Today, I tell you that I'm committed to that vision and to moving forward," he said, as he was surrounded by a number of NDP members of the legislative assembly and cabinet ministers.

"Am I making a precipitous decision today? Am I making a rash decision today? Certainly not."

The news conference took place after more high-profile Manitoba cabinet ministers — including Justice Minister Andrew Swan and Health Minister Erin Selby — spoke out on Tuesday, calling on Selinger to consider resigning.

Swan said Selinger must seriously consider his future for the sake of the party.

The NDP would have a tough road going into the next election with him at the helm as there is a lot of evidence Manitobans are unhappy with him, Swan said.

Health Minister Erin Selby and Theresa Oswald, the minister of jobs and the economy, as well as Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers, have also voiced their concerns in the past two days about the party's downward direction.

They and other critics have cited Selinger's controversial decision to raise the provincial sales tax from seven to eight per cent in 2013.

They noted that several poll results in the past year show the NDP is losing popularity.

On Tuesday, Selinger said the cabinet ministers' comments in recent days have not been helpful.

When asked if a cabinet shuffle may be in the future, Selinger would only say that "all options are on the table" and cabinet performances are under review.

Selinger once again stood by the PST increase, saying it was the right decision, but he regrets how it was rolled out.

Has been NDP leader, premier since 2009

Selinger was elected as the member for Saint Boniface in 1999 as the New Democrats came to power under the leadership of Gary Doer.

Selinger was Doer's finance minister for the NDP government's first 10 years.

After Doer accepted an appointment as Canada's ambassador to the United States in 2009, Selinger was chosen as his successor at a party convention that fall.

Selinger led the New Democrats to a historic fourth majority government in 2011, but public support started to drop almost two years later, when the government raised the provincial sales tax from seven to eight per cent.

It was an about-face from Selinger, who had said in the fall 2011 election campaign that he would not increase the PST, but then did exactly that in July 2013.

Some current and former cabinet ministers have said several poll results in the past year suggest the NDP is losing popularity.

Selinger has defended the PST increase, saying the revenue is needed to fund infrastructure across the province, including roads, hospitals and flood-prevention structures.

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