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Campaign veer negative during weekend campaigning in Manitoba

The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP traded barbs on the weekend, rehashing old controversies

August 26, 2019  The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG – The messages from Manitoba’s political leaders at the midpoint of the provincial election campaign veered negative over the weekend, with the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP rehashing old controversies.

On Saturday, the PCs issued a news release that restated nuggets of NDP Leader Wab Kinew’s past, including a domestic assault charge that was stayed by the Crown and an assault conviction against a taxi driver for which he has received a record suspension.

The NDP fired back on Sunday by detailing the number of days PC Leader Brian Pallister spent at his vacation home in Costa Rica, adding on days to include travel to and from the tropical island.

Pallister’s time in Costa Rica has long been a target of his political opponents. He initially said he planned to spend two months a year there but later reduced that to five weeks.

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The statements by the parties appear to mark a shift in a campaign where advertising has so far shied away from personal attacks and parties have focused mostly on positive messages about their own leaders ahead of the Sept. 10 vote.

The NDP and the Tories also traded barbs over the weekend after PC announcements pledging to protect women from domestic assault and to support women’s health initiatives, with the NDP responding that the Pallister government’s health cuts have directly harmed women.

“He’s closed clinics and cut services while denying women across Manitoba access to medicine essential to women’s reproductive health – why should women in Manitoba believe Pallister now?” NDP candidate Nahanni Fontaine said in a news release.

The PCs announced Sunday that if re-elected Sept. 10, they will invest $3.4 million per year for initiatives that include the establishment of a four-year bachelor of midwifery program at the University of Manitoba, and will lower wait times for Manitobans seeking treatment for eating disorders.

The party also pledged on Saturday to implement “Clare’s Law” which would allow police to warn people if their partner has a violent history.

“Unlike the NDP, we are committed to disclosing information to women so that they can make decisions to protect their safety,” PC candidate Rochelle Squires said in the policy announcement.

Pallister’s Tories have already been running some negative ads on Kinew, mainly about the domestic assault charge, and they reminded voters on the weekend that Kinew is the only leader who disclosed a criminal conviction under the province’s candidate disclosure rules.

“Our PC team believe that Manitobans deserve to know important details about those who are seeking to represent them in the Manitoba Legislature,” the PC news release on Saturday stated.

“That’s why we passed legislation to increase openness and transparency in our electoral process by requiring candidates to disclose major criminal offences.”

The Liberals, meanwhile, promised more infrastructure spending to make up for what it called an “infrastructure deficit” left by the PC government, as well as NDP governments that preceded them.

The party promised Sunday to invest an average of $1.6 billion per year over ten years on urgent and high-return infrastructure projects.

“The bad news is that the NDP and PCs have neglected our infrastructure for so long that it needs to be replaced, but the good news is that we have an opportunity to invest in infrastructure that can take our economy to a new level,” Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said in a news release.