For five months they've been covering the ins and outs and ups and downs of an alleged revolt of a handful of NDP cabinet ministers against Premier Greg Selinger. It was supposed to culminate Sunday in the ouster of Selinger as leader of the party when delegates to a party convention chose one or the other of two challengers for his job.
Except that he won. By a narrow margin, sure. But he won.
The pundits gave out a collective gasp. This wasn't supposed to happen. Selinger was supposed to quit or be defeated. This was the worst outcome possible for the NDP -- a permanently split party and an invigorated Opposition.
"So what exactly was the point of all that again?... In one sense, the Manitoba NDP are back to square one, exactly where they were six months ago." said Curtis Brown, vice-president of pollsters Probe Research Inc.
Who saw that coming?
Well, we did. Three months ago when we wrote how the "revolt" was a charade.
Their only beef was Greg Selinger, who, apparently, wouldn't listen to them when they spoke in caucus. About what? They didn't say.
So what, then, was the point of turning on the leader, asked Curtis Brown.
Selinger is nothing if not a stalwart party soldier. He was willing to fall on the sword if either of the other two approaches were embraced by the public. But the NDP brand is so toxic nothing moved the polls. It was time to hit the reset button.
And move to Plan B.
“Part of Mr. Pallister’s attack will be to say here is a premier who is not even trusted by his most senior political colleagues in cabinet and caucus,” Thomas said.?" Globe and Mail
"University of Manitoba political science associate professor Royce Koop said, "I think it is very clear that not in his wildest dreams could (PC leader) Brian Pallister have hoped for a better result than this one." National Post
... Plan B has been set in motion.
The next Manitoba election is in 13 months, April, 2016. Greg Selinger turns 65 in February, 2016. Does the NDP want a white-haired geezer collecting an old-age pension leading their campaign? (Conservative Party leader Brian Pallister will be only 61 in April, 2016.)
You bet not. Now that he's seized the reins of power again, Selinger can retire on his own terms and in his own time. We're betting that this fall -- September, October or even November -- he will announce his resignation as Premier. It's time to turn the future over to a new generation, he'll say.
He will still sit as an MLA until the election is called, but the caucus will elect an interim leader. Let's call him "Kevin Chief" (who will be about 41, although he's secretive about his birthday).
So is Ovide Mercredi, the new President of the New Democratic Party, whose election was a shocker at the convention last weekend. See where this is going?
The remaining question is when he chooses to go. Six to nine months is plenty of time for the new, interim leader to solidify his profile with the public.
Or to call a snap election to get a mandate.
That ought to stir the pundits into a new frenzy.