WINNIPEG - If an internal revolt and rock-bottom poll numbers weren't enough, embattled Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger found out Tuesday he'll have to pay to try to hang on to his job.
Leadership contest rules released by provincial NDP headquarters say Selinger and any other candidates will have to pay a $2,000 entry fee for a race that by all accounts is in uncharted political territory.
He'll also have to fill out an application for the job he already holds and get signatures of support for his nomination.
Leadership candidates must "submit a nomination form that is signed by 50 members in good standing of the Manitoba NDP," says the 54-page rule book.
Selinger and other candidates will also have to put a message on their websites and social media pages that says their opinions do not necessarily represent the views of the New Democrats.
The premier has been under fire since raising the provincial sales tax last year to eight per cent from seven. The tax increase caused the NDP to drop sharply in opinion polls for the first time since taking office in 1999.
In October, five cabinet ministers, one backbencher and two senior party officials suggested Selinger should consider resigning for the good of the party. But he said he planned to stay on and challenged his critics to run against him at the party's annual convention in March.
Since then, party officials have been trying to work out rules for the leadership contest while allowing Selinger to stay in the premier's office until the vote.
Recent polls have suggested NDP support is well back of support for the Opposition Progressive Conservatives. The most dire of them all came Tuesday when an Angus Reid survey said 17 per cent of respondents approved of Selinger's performance — down from 30 per cent in a similar poll in September. Selinger's approval rating was lower than that of any other premier.
Angus Reid surveyed 800 Manitobans between December 4 and 13 as part of an online panel. The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, said online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample, and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.
Selinger appeared unfazed by the numbers.
"I'm focused on continuing to govern this province. I'm focused on Manitobans' priorities," he said in a written statement.
His spokesman, Paul McKie, said the poll was "not a surprise, as it was taken during an unsettled time in the party."
Selinger has not formally filed his nomination papers. No no other candidates have stepped forward.
Theresa Oswald, who resigned as minister of jobs and the economy after challenging Selinger's leadership, is considering a run, but said Tuesday she had yet to made a decision.
Steve Ashton, the emergency measures minister who ran against Selinger in the 2009 leadership race, has not ruled out another attempt this time around.
Candidates have until Jan. 6 to enter the race. That is also the deadline to sign up new party members who will choose delegates to the convention.
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