It’s not often a Progressive Conservative should thank a labour leader. But premier-in-waiting Brian Pallister should buy Paul Moist a beer. It was Moist, the former national leader the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who helped save Greg Selinger’s job last spring. Moist was against the coup that almost deposed the Premier.
You’ll recall a group of five sitting cabinet ministers defected after backroom attempts to force Selinger to resign failed. Moist would not stand for the knives that were out for the premier at the March 2015 leadership review. He stood by Selinger and helped deliver the key votes to prevent Theresa Oswald from winning the leadership.
The difference was just 33 votes. Oswald would have made this election interesting and the Pallister gang knows it. Luck and timing have just as much power in politics as money and skill.
Oswald was in fine form Thursday morning as she made a brief appearance with us on 680 CJOB. She wouldn’t describe the campaign as boring, just lacking a sparkle – too negative and not positive enough. She’s right. The ballot box issue remains that it’s time for a change. Oswald represented that change for the NDP from Selinger and the 8% provincial sales tax.
“It’s been a good campaign for us,” a senior Progressive Conservative staff member acknowledged. “We have run a safe campaign because the premier is forced to run on his record.”
Privately, many Tories say Oswald would have made Pallister uncomfortable. “She has the confidence that can be unnerving,” a veteran Progressive Conservative MLA told me as the campaign started. “Oswald would have made this a race.”
The Progressive Conservatives are poised to win April 19th and if they govern like they should, the NDP could be banished to opposition status for one, maybe two terms. They should thank some of those senior labour leaders who supported Selinger in his time of need.