A nasty split in the NDP tests Greg Selinger's leadership skills
The first crack in party solidarity developed when Thompson MLA Steve Ashton took on Finance Minister Greg Selinger for the leadership following Gary Doer's departure. There was no love lost between the men.
It was papered over at the leadership convention when Selinger topped the vote with 1317 to Ashton's miserly 685. But the split has obviously festered ever since and was positively oozing last Wednesday when Ashton's campaign manager Russ Wyatt tore several strips off unelected Premier Selinger at the last city council meeting of the summer.
Speaking on the debate over adopting Light Rail Transit as the priority for the city over Bus Rapid Transit, Wyatt attacked Selinger for failing to respect council's choices for its infrastructure priorities. Instead, the provincial NDP is trying to force the city of Winnipeg to spend all the money in the infrastructure pot on completing phase two of BRT to the University of Manitoba, he said.
Wyatt launched a blistering attack on Selinger and his bullying attitude towards Winnipeg:
"There is a disagreement taking place between this council and, specifically the mayor, and the premier of Manitoba. The premier is of the view that the Building Canada Funds that are available for Winnipeg, approximately 63 million from the federal government and 63 million from the provincial government and we have to come to the table, 63 million of our money, so 189 million is the total amount we're talking here... the premier believes they should go towards finishing off the BRT line..."
"if the premier of the province is hearing what we're saying, the roads and the bridges are crumbling. We want that to be the priority. We have ... said back in April that this was a priority and this premier refuses to respond to this council and address these concerns and the situation continues to get worse and worse."
After that announcement, the next announcement was ... 212 million to go into centre port. Not our priority. Of which 70 or $80 million was provincial funds that would have been earmarked to roads and bridges in this city..."