Six bills were passed and campaign themes were trotted out Tuesday as Manitoba politicians wrapped up the last legislature session before the April 19 provincial election.
Among the bills passed Tuesday was an amendment to the Employment Standards Code which grants paid leave to victims of domestic violence, the Domestic Violence and Stalking Amendment Act which will makes firearm bans part of all protection orders, and the Path to Reconciliation Act which lays out a framework for implementing Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
Opposition Leader Brian Pallister accused the NDP government Tuesday of planning another provincial sales tax increase if re-elected.
"We know that [Selinger] is planning to raise the PST again. Is he planning to raise it to 10 or 11 [per cent]?" Pallister said in the final pre-election question period.
Selinger said a Tory government would cut government services and hurt the economy. He also alluded to his campaign goals.
"We will put forward a positive vision for Manitoba, where everybody will have a sense of belonging in terms of their human rights, in terms of their identity, and we will do it by building Manitoba as a place where all can live and work together."
Under provincial law, Selinger has until Tuesday of next week to officially launch the election campaign. But an NDP source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the kickoff would be Wednesday.
The NDP has already dropped several hints—most notably a party rally featuring the premier scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and promoted on social media with the hashtag #mbelxn.
The NDP has been trailing in opinion polls since it raised the sales tax in 2013. The move broke a campaign promise and required the government to sidestep a section of the province's balanced budget law that requires a referendum on major tax increases.
The Manitoba Liberals, who have one legislature seat, are hoping for a breakthrough April 19 and are buoyed by opinion polls that suggest their support has risen sharply.
The Liberals have a lower profile and have raised much less money then the Tories or NDP, but leader Rana Bokhari said Tuesday the party is in fighting form for the campaign trail.
"We've committed to TV advertising. We've got radio ads going right now," she said.
The Liberals still have a few candidates to nominate, but expect to have a full slate within a week, she added.