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This article was published 30/8/2011 (1735 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE NDP promised to keep on keepin' on with a vision statement Tuesday that pledged to maintain, continue or expand existing programs.
By 2015, the NDP said there will be a new weekend court to ease the backlog of cases, a family doctor for every Manitoban and the shortest cancer care wait times in Canada.
And Premier Greg Selinger promised regular increases in the minimum wage, more cottage lots for families and better energy-efficiency programs to help shrink home-heating bills.
All those programs were announced in recent months or are initiatives already underway for several years. The 15-page vision statement contained virtually nothing new and few specifics but Selinger said details will come once the campaign gets going after Labour Day.
The document neatly bolsters the NDP's emerging campaign theme: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In fact, Selinger told supporters, changing governments now risks undoing the momentum the NDP has created.
Asked whether the vision statement is enough to convince voters the three-term NDP government isn't stale, Selinger said the party is listening to Manitobans and acting on their priorities.
"Manitobans have told us they like the direction we're going," said Selinger.
NDP candidates, MLAs and party staffers gathered about 150 strong Tuesday morning at a rally at the new Richardson College for the Environment and Science complex at the University of Winnipeg, an event that allowed Selinger to polish his stump speech.
He said the province is enjoying a new sense of optimism thanks to rising house prices, low unemployment, steady investments in health and education and the morale-boosting return of the Winnipeg Jets.
Manitoba wasn't always like this, and it's a foundation to build on, not squander, said Selinger.
At that, the Tories scoffed.
"Hallway medicine? Not fixed. Crime on our streets? Not fixed," said Tory candidate Mike Brown, who is running against NDP Education Minister Nancy Allan in St. Vital.
The Tories also raised the spectre of a looming budget crisis, saying they've analyzed the province's finances and believe it's just not feasible to balance the budget by 2014 as the NDP has promised.
Brown said it's not possible without major tax hikes or the introduction of a harmonized sales tax.
"If the budget numbers are anything like we think they are, they may have to," warned Brown.
The NDP has pledged in the past and again in its new vision document to keep Manitoba HST-free.