Former Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced Tuesday he will be leaving the legislature after nearly two decades on the job.
Speaking from his St. Boniface constituency office, Selinger said the decision to resign his post came as a result of consultations with his constituents, but admitted that there had been pressure to leave.
“Look, I’m leaving on my own initiative… but yes, there have been pushes of course, I understand that. There have also been pulls. Things move in all directions.”
Selinger was first elected as MLA for St. Boniface in 1999. He became Premier of Manitoba in 2009 after Gary Doer announced his resignation.
His time as leader of the province was tumultuous.
After telling voters in 2011 there would be no tax hikes, his party raised the PST from seven to eight per cent in 2013.
A decision that lead to public protests from voters, and dissension within the party.
Despite surviving a leadership contest in 2015, Selinger was pressured to resign. The infamous ‘rebel five’ cabinet ministers – Theresa Oswald, Jennifer Howard, Stan Struthers, Erin Selby and Andrew Swan – called on Selinger to step down for the good of the party. Selinger refused.
He relinquished his position as head of the party after the NDP lost the provincial election to the Conservatives in 2016, but held on to his seat in St. Boniface.
Just last week, Selinger said he had no intention of stepping down as MLA despite having been asked to do so by NDP leader Wab Kinew.
That request came just hours before Selinger announced his plans to address recent allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against former MLA Stan Struthers’. Struthers served as one of Selinger’s cabinet ministers.
On Feb. 13, Selinger accepted responsibility for the sexual misconduct that took place while he was premier. He reiterated that apology while announcing his resignation.
“At that time the focus should have probably been on hearing their voices, it wasn’t, and I want to apologize for contributing to that,” Selinger said.
He will resign as of March 7, 2018.
“To my family, I want to thank them for their commitment and their love and the views they have made, that have made it all worthwhile.”
Selinger was emotional while offering his gratitude to his supporters, adding that he chose this time to step down “because it honours everybody who’s got concerns… it gives everybody a chance to move on.”
Wab Kinew was not available for interview but did release a written statement on Selinger’s retirement Tuesday afternoon.
The NDP leader said he wanted to share some personal thoughts, adding Selinger was a ‘constant presence’ during the flood of 2011 and was ‘the leader our province needed’.
“It’s my hope that Greg will be remembered as a Premier who led our province through the aftermath of the global financial crisis, two major floods and was a finance minister who balanced the budget for 10 years in a row,” Kinew said.
-with files from Riley Martin