Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba NDP Caucus Meets amid Bad Polls before Election Next Spring

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manitoba NDP Caucus Meets amid Bad Polls before Election Next Spring

Article excerpt

Manitoba NDP tout unity after retreat

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WINNIPEG - Manitoba's governing New Democrats emerged from a two-day caucus retreat Wednesday expressing confidence that they have turned a corner on a year filled with infighting, low poll numbers and a brain drain.

The 35-member caucus received more bad polling news, but also saw research showing that the party might turn things around before a provincial election slated for April 19.

"What we know is that we have a lot of work to do with Manitobans," Education Minister James Allum said. "But I also feel really confident coming out of this caucus retreat that we're focused and we know the things we need to do to communicate to Manitobans that we're on their side."

The NDP has been trailing the Opposition Progressive Conservatives since the government broke a campaign promise and raised the provincial sales tax in 2013. At last summer's retreat, caucus members were told the party could lose more than half its seats. Some of Premier Greg Selinger's most senior caucus members told him he should resign for the good of the party.

When Selinger refused to go, five senior cabinet ministers went public with their challenge to him. The premier survived the ensuing leadership vote by a 33-vote margin.

Jennifer Howard, one of the ministers who challenged Selinger, said the internal battle is over.

"That is behind us. There has always been more that unites our caucus."

Howard and the others who challenged Selinger stepped down from their ministerial portfolios last fall. Howard and one other rebel -- Andrew Swan -- have since decided to run for re-election under Selinger and were unopposed at nomination meetings in the spring.

The caucus was presented at the closed-door meeting with internal research on how the public feels about the party and what might be done to revive NDP fortunes. Allum signalled an advertising blitz is coming that will target Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister. …

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