Greg Selinger was born in Regina on February 16, 1951. 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. It was there, at the Y, where Greg developed his love for basketball and experienced first-hand the positive influence strong communities can make in kids' lives.
"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. These services helped the unemployed, built links between families and schools, and revitalized city neighbourhoods.
"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."
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. He got involved with the Old St. Boniface Residents' Association and worked to ensure that new developments in their neighbourhood were focused on families.
Greg soon realized that making a real difference in the lives of his friends and neighbours would also mean changing things at City Hall. And in 1989, his community elected Greg as the city councilor for St. Boniface.
A forward-looking team of councilors joined Greg at City Hall where he was appointed 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 winning campaigns.
Greg turned to teaching social policy at the University of Manitoba. He was proud of the difference that he could make in the lives of the students he taught.
"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. They fired record numbers of nurses and teachers. And more and more young people left the province each day.
In 1999, Greg once again became his community's candidate in a political race – this time for a seat in the province's legislature. 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 the senior role of Minister of Finance.
For 10 consecutive years, Greg balanced the province's books and got 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. I'm proud of how much we have accomplished."
When Gary Doer stepped down as Premier of Manitoba, Greg's community turned to him again for leadership. This time, they were joined by provincial cabinet ministers, municipal and First Nations leaders, and countless everyday Manitobans.
On October 19, 2009, Greg was sworn in as Premier of Manitoba.
The global downturn had hit economies around the world hard. Manitoba was not immune and had begun feeling the effects. 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.
For Greg, the choice was clear. He understood that with common sense and a vision, Manitoba could come out of this downturn stronger. Greg and his team developed an ambitious plan to keep Manitoba moving forward – balancing the budget in five years, while protecting the services families count on. They stimulated construction projects to improve communities – creating 29,000 new jobs. They strengthened health care to ensure families got the care they needed. And they invested in our colleges and universities to meet the labour needs of our economy.
"We focused on the things that families care about, like education. A good education is the key to somebody being able to write their own ticket for the future."
Today, Manitobans are working hard. The province has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country. And families are optimistic about the future.