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Politics Despite caucus revolt, Manitoba government survives non-confidence vote

Manitoba's troubled NDP government survived a non-confidence motion in the legislature Monday, despite divisions within caucus.

None of the six NDP members who have challenged Premier Greg Selinger's leadership voted with the Opposition Tories to bring down the government.

Tory Leader Brian Pallister said he was disappointed.

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"The reality of the situation is clear. They're dissidents not wanting to make a difference — dissidents wanting to complain but willing to prop up the government and to do what they can to remain in their seats."

Selinger did not stop to talk to reporters after the vote. As he walked briskly from the chamber to his office, he said the result means he can focus on governing.

"I think it allows us to move forward on the throne speech and address the priorities of Manitobans. Thank you."

Selinger has faced public anger and low polling numbers since raising the provincial sales tax last year to eight per cent from seven. In October, five of his top cabinet ministers openly questioned his leadership and said he should consider resigning. They later stepped down from cabinet and now sit as backbenchers.

Another NDP member, Clarence Petterson, also called on Selinger to quit. Selinger has also had run-ins with Christine Melnick, who was temporarily booted from caucus earlier this year after contradicting him about who was to blame for an immigration debate that was criticized by the provincial ombudsman.

Despite their differences with the premier, Melnick, Petterson and the five former cabinet ministers all voted against the Tory non-confidence motion, which was defeated 34-20. The former ministers have said their issue is with the premier, not with the NDP.

Despite Monday's vote, Selinger's problems are far from over.

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NDP officials are organizing a leadership contest for the party's annual convention in March, and one of the ministers who resigned, Theresa Oswald, is considering running against Selinger. The NDP council will meet this weekend to hammer out the rules for the leadership contest. Selinger has said he will stay on as premier until the convention.

It remains unclear how much support Selinger has within his own caucus. A source told The Canadian Press last month Selinger was openly challenged at a caucus retreat in September, and only half the caucus stood by him.

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