The provincial election campaign is officially on

Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister officially called the provincial election Aug. 12 during an afternoon press conference in front of the Manitoba legislature. 

"I've just come back from visiting her honour the lieutenant-governor and I've asked her to dissolve the legislature and issue the writs of election for Tuesday, Sept. 10,” Pallister said according to the CBC.  

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The province’s political parties have 29 days to sway public opinion before voters head to the ballot box on the second Tuesday in September.

Pallister also unveiled his party’s new a five-point guarantee to Manitobans, which includes a jobs plan, tax rollback, strategic health-care funding, building more schools and a made-in Manitoba green plan.

"Progressive Conservatives want a Manitoba that is more affordable, more secure and more prosperous for us all," the PC leader said. "And we will deliver on that vision for Manitobans, as we have been delivering each and every year of our first mandate."

In effect, the parties have already been campaigning for weeks, with the Liberals and the NDP taking aim at the Progressive Conservatives’ approach to health care in particular.

"To repair the damage that Mr. Pallister has caused may take a long time,” Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew said on Monday, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. “Unfortunately nurses have left. In some cases, they’ve left the province ... and in order to recruit them back, we are going to have to be committed to the long term."

Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont also welcomed the issuing of the election writ on Monday, saying his party should serve as a viable third option for voters.

“You don't have to choose from the only two parties who think they are entitled to power because that's the way it's been for so long,” he said in the Free Press. “Manitoba Liberals are here to offer, not just another option, but the progressive option in this election."

The Liberals haven’t formed a government since 1953.

The next provincial election was initially schedule for Oct. 6, 2020 through fixed-election date legislation, but Pallister moved the date forward by a more than a year back in June, arguing that he didn’t want to an election to distract from Manitoba’s 150thbirthday celebrations.

Pallister’s government is seeking a second term after crushing the NDP in the 2016 election, winning 40 of 57 legislature seats, Manitoba’s largest majority in a century.  

This historic win extended as far north as Thompson, where Progressive Conservative candidate Kelly Bindle beat incumbent NDP MLA Steve Ashton, who had represented the electoral district since 1981.

This time Bindle will be running against a fresh face in the form of NDP candidate Danielle Adams, who served as an assistant for the last decade to NDP MP Niki Ashton, who has represented first the Churchill riding and then the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski riding since 2008.

Bindle will also have to contend with recently redrawn Thompson electoral boundaries that now include Churchill, Gillam, Nelson House and communities along the Hudson Bay Railway. 

Thompson residents will get a chance to see these two candidates face off in person during a Sept. 4 debate from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre.

The Liberals and the Green party do not have candidates in Thompson as of Aug. 13. The deadline for candidate nominations is Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. 

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