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This article was published 30/8/2011 (3623 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Taking a cue from his party’s traditional "budget morning after" trips to the Wheat City, NDP Premier Greg Selinger followed up a stragetic pre-election announcement in Winnipeg with a trip west down the highway Tuesday.
After releasing his party’s "vision document" in the provincial capital yesterday morning, Selinger immediately hit the road with his broad plan for continued investment in health care, education, public safety and job creation, making stops in St. Leon, Brandon and Dauphin.
Speaking to a small rally of about 50 supporters gathered at the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts at Assiniboine Community College’s North Hill campus in Brandon late yesterday afternoon, Selinger said he’s never been so optimistic about the future of the province.
"Everywhere you go, especially places like Brandon, we work together to make things happen for the citizens that we represent," he said. "That sense of optimism is infusing everything. Everywhere I go, people are saying that there’s a tremendous sense of optimism about what we can accomplish in the future."
While he remained broad in discussing what his specific vision for Brandon might entail, Selinger said it certainly includes expansion at ACC and Brandon University, continued investment in the Brandon School Division and the Brandon Regional Health Centre and the construction of additional flood protection.
"That’s why you people are out here today," he said. "You see the big picture. You see the challenge ahead and the opportunity ahead."
Speaking to the Sun after the rally, Selinger reiterated that he sees no reason to drop the writ and trigger an election until after the Labour Day long weekend.
"I thought people needed this last week of August-early September to get ready for school and enjoy one last long weekend for the summer and then the full campaign will probably unfold very soon thereafter," he said.
Joining Selinger at yesterday’s Brandon rally were NDP MLAs Stan Struthers and Drew Caldwell and NDP candidates Jim Murray and Cory Szczepanski.
Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen will make his own pre-writ stop in Brandon tomorrow, as he is set to attend an invite-only forum on economic development hosted by local party members at Westridge Community Centre.
This week’s appearances add to an unusually high number of summer visits to the Wheat City by both men in recent weeks, kicked off by Selinger in early August and then followed by McFadyen late last week.
Brandon University political science Prof. Kelly Saunders says it’s hard not to wonder if the presence of both Selinger and McFadyen in the Wheat City prior to the writ being dropped is a gauge of each party’s internal polling.
"That means their internal polling is showing something very interesting, that there’s dynamics and change afoot," she said. "It means either they are worried or they see great opportunity in one or the other of Brandon’s two seats ... I think Brandon will be a race to watch."
Saunders said she’s not surprised that Selinger will likely wait until after the last gasp of summer before sending voters to the polls.
"Voters’ attentions — especially this time of year when they are looking forward to the long weekend and getting their kids ready for back to school — are not on the election," she said. "It’s hard enough to keep voters attention during the course of the election campaign."
And while both parties have played it smart and safe by releasing only tidbits of policies and visions when they are still a week out from an actual election campaign, Saunders hinted that the Tory party has far more to lose.
"They don’t want to burn up too much goodwill from the voters by giving them to much information right from the get go, right from the front end," she said. "Voters are going to become bored, they already know what the Tories have to say anyways and so they’re going to be tuning out from any election advertising that is going to come from here on out."
Manitobans go to the polls on Oct.4, the first time a provincial campaign has centred around a fixed election date.