Manitoba's New Democrats have unveiled what they call their "vision" for the next four years as the unofficial election campaign gets into gear.
NDP Leader Greg Selinger, hoping to win a fourth term in office, said the document is called "Let's Keep Building — Don't Turn Back," a theme likely to be repeated many times in the campaign.
"Housing prices are increasing and people are building homes. [The province has] a more diverse population, and a younger population. And the economy, the economy has been the best peforming economy in Canada," Selinger said Tuesday as he talked about where the party is heading, during a visit to the University of Winnipeg.
The New Democrats hope to ride a wave of optimism, right through the election campaign.
Tories trash NDP plan
Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives took little time to trash the NDP plan.
Tory candidate Mike Brown said the New Democrats are perpetuating desperate lies, including an allegation that the Tories would sell Manitoba Hydro if they form government.
"We're not selling hydro," said Brown. "We'll never sell hydro. But they keep saying that we will. We answer that question at the door more often than we should. But again, if you lie your way to power, sometimes it works."
Brown said while the NDP is campaigning on a theme that all is well in Manitoba the reality is that crime and hallway medicine are still big issues. And the only way the NDP will be able to eliminate the deficit by 2014 as promised is to raise taxes.
The Conservatives officially kick off their election campaign Tuesday evening.
"There's something happening. Something big is happening around here," said Erin Selby, elected as the MLA for the NDP in the riding of Southdale in the 2007 election.
The NDP's vision document talks about continuing that momentum in key areas that include jobs, health and education, Manitoba Hydro and public safety. It includes phrases such as, "keep working, stick to our plan, fully implement."
The NDP is also aligning itself with the return of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets and the new football stadium.
The party says it will reveal more specifics on its vision throughout the campaign.
Campaign dedicated to Jack Layton's values
Selinger promised to unveil this document as he spoke to a crowd of 300 supporters gathered at Saint Boniface College on Monday night, when he was officially nominated to run in the fall election.
He told fellow candidates he wanted to dedicate the party's re-election effort to the memory and values of the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
"To see the outpouring of compassion, the outpouring of caring and the outpouring of generosity that Jack represented ... and tonight we have the opportunity to take that another step forward in Manitoba because those are our values as well," he said.
The NDP gave reporters a preview of its first official election ad, featuring cheering sports fans. The Winnipeg Jets hockey team is returning to the NHL this year and a new CFL stadium is under construction for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club.
Selinger also responded to rumours he might officially call the election as early as Tuesday.
"Unlikely," he said. "You know people are still getting ready for school. There's one long weekend coming up. We want families to enjoy the summer as long as possible. So I don't think you'll see us pulling the trigger tomorrow."
While the campaign hasn't officially begun for Manitoba's first fixed election on Oct. 4, the Opposition Progressive Conservatives leaked their election platform on Monday.
In their platform document, titled "Making Manitoba A Have Province," the Tories promise to eliminate the deficit by 2018, a pace four years slower than the NDP, and say they will not raise taxes.
Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard accused Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen of flip-flopping on the deficit, since just a few months ago they say he wanted to wipe it out immediately by slashing $500 million in spending.
The Tories plan to gear up further for the fall vote with a rally Tuesday at the Viscount Gort Hotel, where they will introduce candidates.
The New Democrats have nominated candidates in all 57 constituencies.
The NDP holds 36 of the 57 seats in the legislature, the Conservatives 18, and the Liberals one. Two seats are vacant.