Manitoba political mystery solved: NDP loyalty pledge is dead

Amid Manitoba NDP turmoil, two backbenchers had asked colleagues to swear that they had not leaked secrets to the media

Chris Young/CP

Chris Young/CP

WINNIPEG — A mystery in Manitoba politics has been solved: The NDP caucus loyalty pledge is no more.

Two government backbenchers — Rob Altemeyer and Dave Gaudreau — came up with the pledge last spring after a bitter leadership crisis divided the caucus.

They asked their colleagues to sign the oath, which required them to swear that they had not leaked secrets to the media, and hung it in the caucus room.

Premier Greg Selinger says the two backbenchers realized the error of their ways.

“They were overly enthusiastic in their pursuit of that and I think they understood after that it was unwise,” Selinger said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.

While the fate of the pledge has been revealed, some questions remain.

No one, for instance, is saying how many people signed it.

Altemeyer did not reply to a request for comment. Gaudreau said the whole matter is behind him.

“The pledge is all in the past. We have moved forward as a team,” he wrote in an email.

The pledge followed an internal revolt that saw Selinger hang on to his job by a 33-vote margin at a party convention last March. Caucus secrets had been spilling out to reporters for weeks.

Gaudreau and Altemeyer said they were not engaging in a witch hunt, but trying to reunite the caucus.

Selinger said no one was required to sign the pledge and the NDP is focused on a different commitment.

“The pledge that people have to make is to serve their constituents, to serve the public and to put service at the top of their priority list when they offer themselves up for public service.”

Altemeyer and Gaudreau are running for re-election in the April 19 provincial vote. So are two of five former cabinet ministers who led the revolt over plummeting opinion poll numbers.

Selinger said the party has reunited.

“I think everybody in our caucus is here for the right reason. I think they’re motivated to continue to serve.”

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