Richard Cloutier: NDP’s Wab Kinew not ripping off the Band-Aid

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680 CJOB's Richard Cloutier spoke live with Global News Morning's Shannon Cuciz Wednesday – Feb 14, 2018

In politics, it’s called ripping off the Band-Aid. If you do it quickly, the damage doesn’t last as long. Done slowly, it is much more painful.

What Manitobans are witnessing is the slow removal of former NDP Premier Greg Selinger from caucus. Leader Wab Kinew asked for and was refused Selinger’s resignation Tuesday.

Against Kinew’s wishes, Selinger held a news conference to apologize for his role in allowing former Cabinet Minister Stan Struthers to allegedly sexually harass staff under his watch as leader.

“They deserved to have a safe place to work … Our government failed them,” Selinger said. “Grotesque incidents happened under my watch and I must take responsibility.”

WATCH BELOW: Former Manitoba premier tries to clear the air over Struthers harassment complaints

Click to play video 'Former Manitoba premier tries to clear the air over Struthers harassment complaints' Former Manitoba premier tries to clear the air over Struthers harassment complaints
Former Manitoba premier tries to clear the air over Struthers harassment complaints – Feb 13, 2018

Selinger won’t resign his St. Boniface seat, at least not now. Kinew backed down.

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It shows weakness and sends a signal to party members and Manitobans the leader is ineffective. “Selinger is yesterday’s man,” Kinew told 680 CJOB.

Kinew explained he is not looking to punish the former leader but rather give him some space. Translation: The Band-Aid will be removed very slowly. If you can’t deal with yesterday’s man today, it will continue to haunt you tomorrow.

READ MORE: ‘It was a dark period in my life’: Wab Kinew addresses former assault, drunk driving charges

Paul Thomas, professor emeritus in political studies at the University of Manitoba, said for Selinger to resign would be viewed as an admission he did something wrong.

“Sending this mess off to a private investigation might be the best hope for the NDP as the Struthers case reminds voters of Kinew’s checkered past and renews infighting over leadership,” Thomas said.

Kinew was convicted of impaired driving in 2003 and was accused, and then charged, with two counts of domestic violence against a woman that same year. The charges were later stayed by the Crown, meaning they did not go forward. Kinew denies the allegations. Selinger supported Kinew in his leadership bid last year.

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My 680 CJOB co-host Julie Buckingham challenged Kinew on the message this sends to the victims and women in general. Given his history and Selinger’s inability to deal with Struthers, the indecisiveness sends a powerful signal that words are not being backup up by actions.

Kinew said he wants to be patient. “You can bring down the discipline, you can react with anger … or you can be a bit more understanding and patient … I don’t want to be rash, rather I want to do the right thing.”

If this were the private sector, Selinger would be out.

Sue Kathler of Catalyst HR says if an employee “kicked-up their heels and decide they don’t want to leave, that’s when the lawyers take over. Nobody is entitled to a job.”

Meantime, Struthers has resigned as a board member of Diabetes Canada. His wife, a former NDP staffer, has taken time away from her job. Struthers remains silent and no one is certain whether he will cooperate in any NDP investigation into his conduct.

As long as Kinew waffles on Selinger, the NDP will be unable to move ahead and deal with the important issues facing Manitobans such as healthcare, education and our economy.

Richard Cloutier is co-host of the News on Global News 680 CJOB in Winnipeg.


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