The last throne speech authored by a 'replacement premier' in Manitoba was in 1968, when poor Walter Weir assumed the burden of leadership from that highly over-rated, quasi-progressive, and so-called conservative, Duff Roblin.Roblin, who had become frustrated by the inability of Manitoba to bear the costs of his mega-project projects, abandoned Manitoba's ship just as his “regime was beginning to falter”. After a decade in power Roblin claimed that provincial power had “lost much of its savour and appeal.” Much like the recently departed Doer, hapless Roblin then sought to trade the keys to his provincial office for one on a larger, grander, and presumably more important stage. In the end, unlike Doer, Roblin failed. Because, again unlike Doer, his chosen escape hatch came without any guarantees.
Whatever else happens today, I hope that Premier Greg Selinger does not forget how 'replacement' Premier Walter Weir's inaugural Throne Speech marked the beginning of the end of his government.
The last thing Mr. Selinger needs to do is to emulate Weir. He cannot afford to see his speech categorized (a la Weir's) as little more that "five well spaced pages of legistative balloon juice and whiffle dust"! He cannot, as did Weir, leave the opposition "smacking their lips in anticipation" of the upcoming session. He cannot give us promises that are blinded by their lack of vision.
If nothing else, Mr. Selinger should, indeed must, take the opportunity he has today to stake his claim to the office he now holds. He must provide Manitobans with absolute proof that this NDP government is HIS government. That it will reflect his promises, his goals, his identity, and his commitment to try harder than his predecessor. He must convey that the old, albeit successful, but ultimately unsatisfactory NDP way of doing business and making 'safe policy' is over. In short, he must demonstrate that he will aspire to do greater things than his predecessor.
The last thing Mr. Selinger (and Manitobans) want to read in tomorrow's paper (or on today's internet) is that his Throne Speech fell short. That it missed its mark. That, as was said of Weir's, it amounted to little more that "a slender legislative programme" marked by an "anything - but bold approach." Because what we don't need is Selinger's Throne Speech to be seen, amid the all heraldry, pomp and circumstance, as something "strictly in the pop-gun category".
After all, after a decade of Doer, we deserve more!
[re: quotation marks - most are from March 3rd, 1968 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press and Roblin's biography - oops, maybe it is the March 5th, 1968 edition of the Freep I am citing - check both if you need as I am doing it from memory!]