For more than 25 years now, Greg Selinger has brought his unique blend of passion, commitment and integrity to Manitoba's political scene. His concern for kids, for working class Manitobans, for the First Nations and new immigrants has been shown time and time again, not surprisingly because it is rooted in his own experience. But what makes Greg truly unique is that he combines a compassionate view with the ability to deliver effective social programs in a way that is sustainable and fiscally responsible. This ability has carried him to the highest levels of responsibility in whatever public office he has held and ultimately to the position he occupies today as Premier of Manitoba.
Greg Selinger was born in Regina. When he was still young, his family moved to Manitoba where they put down roots in St. James.
To make ends meet, Greg’s family worked hard running a small clothing store. After school, Greg often found his way to the local YMCA.
"Growing up, the Y had such a big impact on me. It was a place that anybody could go to and feel included. I made some great friends and learned about teamwork. And when I was able, I decided I wanted to give back by coaching there."
From his family, teachers and coaches, Greg learned that the path to a better future was through education. He finished high school and started classes in social work at the University of Manitoba. To put himself through school, Greg loaded and drove a delivery truck for Winnipeg’s McGavin Bakery.
After finishing his degree, Greg founded an inner-city development agency. He put his energy into organizing community members to push for and create better services for Winnipeg families.
"Working with folks in the community, I learned that people are looking for vision and practical solutions, not rhetoric. They weren't impressed by people making big promises. They wanted someone who would work with them to get things done."
Greg also went on to further his education, obtaining a Masters from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and then completing his PhD in social policy and administration at the prestigious London School of Economics.
In the late 1970s, Greg and his wife Claudette moved into old St. Boniface. There, they raised their two sons, Pascal and Eric. Greg learned to speak French and completely embraced his new community.
Greg soon realized that making a real difference in the lives of his friends and neighbours would also mean changing things at City Hall. This lead him to consider civic politics and in 1989, he was elected as the city councillor for St. Boniface.
A forward-looking team of councillors joined Greg at City Hall where he was appointed as the chair of the city’s finance committee. In that role, he balanced tight budgets while working to make life better for families across Winnipeg.
After three years on council, Greg ran for Mayor. Though he did not win, his campaign attracted people from across the city and from all walks of life – inspiring Greg and laying the groundwork for future successful campaigns.
Greg turned to teaching social policy at the University of Manitoba.
"Most of my students were Aboriginal people, single mothers and newcomers to Canada. As I worked to teach and inspire them, I noticed how much of their day-to-day lives were affected by the decisions politicians were making."
Meanwhile, in the province’s legislature, the Conservative government of the day was altering the face of Manitoba. Their funding cuts put critical services at risk. More and more young people left the province each day.
In 1999, Greg once again sought public office – this time at the provincial level. Families across the province elected an NDP government to lead Manitoba. Premier Gary Doer quickly recognized Greg’s ability to work with people to get things done and appointed him to the senior role of Minister of Finance.
For 10 consecutive years, Greg balanced the province’s books and worked to get the province back on track. Under his watch, the NDP reduced taxes for families and small business while investing more in health care and education.
"We were given the chance to turn things around. To have a real impact on people’s lives and put our New Democrat values into action.”
When Gary Doer stepped down as Premier of Manitoba, provincial cabinet ministers, municipal and First Nations leaders, and countless everyday Manitobans turned to Greg for leadership.
On October 19, 2009, Greg was sworn in as Premier of Manitoba.
It was not an easy time to come to power. The global downturn had hit economies around the world hard and Manitoba as an exporter of goods and services was not immune. On top of this came the catastrophic flood events of 2010 and especially 2011 where Manitoba experienced record high water levels all along the Assiniboine River.
Greg and his team were faced with a choice. Make deep cuts to services as the Conservatives had in the 1990s. Or, show leadership on behalf of Manitoba families.
They chose the latter. Greg and his team developed an ambitious plan to keep Manitoba moving forward. They stimulated infrastructure projects to protect and strengthen communities – creating thousands of new jobs. They continued to improve health care services and they invested in our colleges and universities to meet the labour needs of our economy.
"In an ideal world, like the one the Liberals and Conservatives live in, tough choices don't have to be made. But we've shown that we know how to make things happen in this province. We'll keep working with Manitobans from all walks of life to make this the best possible place to live and raise a family."
Today, Manitoba has the second lowest unemployment rates in the country. While remaining one of the most affordable locations to buy or build a home, its economy is growing faster than most of the neighbouring provinces. Its population is expanding: gone are the days where the best and brightest were leaving in droves.
"I'm proud of what we've accomplished here in Manitoba," Greg states, "And there is nothing I would rather do than continue to be a catalyst for change in this province."