WINNIPEG - Five senior cabinet ministers who have challenged the Manitoba premier's leadership have agreed to an uneasy truce, but questions remain as to whether Greg Selinger can survive the revolt and to when he will recall the legislature.
Theresa Oswald, jobs and the economy minister, said Thursday that she and her colleagues have agreed not to discuss their concerns publicly anymore, pending another meeting with Selinger.
Oswald, Justice Minister Andrew Swan and Finance Minister Jennifer Howard also said they would not resign and gave no indication that they were backing down from their suggestions that the premier consider stepping down.
"None of us are planning to resign. We are going to continue to uphold our oath ... to serve Manitobans," Howard said earlier in the day.
"We have spoken to the premier and he's open to meeting with us and, certainly, I have committed that I am not going to speak about these issues in the media," Oswald later told reporters.
Selinger was not available for comment.
The revolt erupted earlier this week when the ministers suggested Selinger think about his future given the NDP's drop in opinion polls. The New Democrats have trailed the Opposition Progressive Conservatives since the government increased the provincial sales tax to eight per cent from seven last year.
Selinger reacted Tuesday by saying he would not resign and plans to lead the party into the next election expected in 2016. He also left the door open to demoting the cabinet rebels.
The NDP has a solid majority with 35 of 57 legislature seats. The ministers who have questioned Selinger's leadership are not expected to vote against the government, despite their fight with the premier.
"I joined the party ... in '86 or '87, which were troubling years for the NDP in Manitoba, and I stuck with it through the ups and downs," Howard said.
"It's because that is the party that represents my values and ideals — and it is still the party that represents my values and ideals."
The rebellion includes other top cabinet ministers — Erin Selby in health and Stan Struthers in municipal government — and leaves Selinger with a divided caucus.
The legislature is normally recalled in mid-November for a three-week sitting and a throne speech that outlines the government's agenda for the coming year. But there was no indication Thursday as to when the session might start. Swan would not commit to holding one at all this fall.
"There's been no announcement yet. That's all I can tell you," Swan said.
Opposition Leader Brian Pallister and Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said the NDP infighting has made the government dysfunctional.
"The question ... that Manitobans have to ask (the government) is, 'Why should we trust you if you don't even trust one another?'" Pallister asked
It's not clear how much firm support Selinger has in caucus.
One of his backbenchers, Clarence Petterson, told Winnipeg radio station CJOB that he has urged Selinger to step down for the good of the province.
Fifteen caucus members stood beside the premier on Tuesday when he announced he would not resign. Other members, such as Kevin Chief, minister of children and youth opportunities, said they fully support Selinger and would have been at his side but were out of town.
But at least one minister who was with Selinger did not comment definitively on Thursday.
"I'm probably the longest-standing New Democrat in this building ... and I'm doing my job and I have no comment on that issue," said Mineral Resources Minister Dave Chomiak, who has had a legislature seat since 1990.