Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/1/2012 (3487 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Premier Greg Selinger came glad-handing to Brandon on Thursday. Upon his return to Winnipeg, he stabbed all of Westman in the back.
While Selinger was all smiles and handshakes touring the construction activity at Brandon University’s $20-million Healthy Living Centre and later at his Brandon New Year’s Open House at the Provincial Building, behind the mask lay a dirty deed to come our way.
The province’s second-largest city and the entire Westman region was again denied a seat at the provincial cabinet table yesterday.
Our region has been without representation in cabinet since voters turfed out former NDP cabinet minister Scott Smith from Brandon West in the 2007 election.
And we won’t have any representation in Selinger’s inner circle in what promises to be a very challenging year as the province plans a budget while facing a staggering $1-billion deficit.
Instead, the NDP has chosen to fortify Fortress Winnipeg and make a pitch for the urban aboriginal vote by adding political newcomer Point Douglas MLA Kevin Chief to a new cabinet title, minister of children and youth opportunities.
The other new addition was Swan River MLA Ron Kostyshyn as agriculture minister. The former reeve of the RM of Mossey River pretty much had to get the job, as he’s the only farmer in a mostly urban NDP caucus.
But by again passing over his party’s sole representative in Westman, Selinger is sending a clear message that he doesn’t abide by the longstanding practice of regional representation in cabinets.
He’s playing for the long term — risking the loss of Brandon East in 2015 in favour of greater gains in vote-rich Winnipeg.
Selinger must know how angry most of those dedicated NDP supporters he was mingling with at his open house Thursday will be with his decision. Given his announcement Friday, his visit Thursday was nothing short of cowardly.
This move will surely cause headaches for the Brandon East constituency association, which will now have to decide how to move forward in the face of being snubbed by the leader of their party.
As for the MLA who again will be on the outside looking in, we wonder what this will mean for his political future.
Drew Caldwell, a former city councillor, brought home Brandon East for the NDP for the fourth time last fall.
He fended off a second consecutive challenge from Tory candidate Mike Waddell — winning by 1,129 votes.
Caldwell — who resigned from cabinet for health reasons eight years ago after a less-than-brilliant stint as education minister — has been passed over several times for a post by two NDP premiers.
But Caldwell has proven himself to be a hard worker for the party and the people he represents.
Since 2008, he has acted as legislative assistant to the premier with special responsibility for western Manitoba.
Considering the lack of qualifications and experience of many of the current cabinet ministers, surely Caldwell could have managed a low-profile post. But no.
The NDP is basically an urban Winnipeg party whose members couldn’t give a hoot what happens out here.
And there’s nothing that we can do about it.
What have the fine people of Brandon and Westman done to deserve this snub? Are we still being punished for not re-electing Smith? Or are we now being sent to detention for not electing NDP star candidate Jim Murray last fall, who lost a squeaker to Progressive Conservative Reg Helwer?
And what if Murray had been elected? Would he be in Selinger’s cabinet? Likely not.
Selinger sees a weak and vulnerable Tory Opposition and figures it’s the right time to play hard-knuckle politics and cement his party’s fortunes in Winnipeg.
Westman be damned.