Greg Selinger’s bid to maintain the NDP’s hold on the power began with confidence despite poor polling numbers and some unwelcome guests on Day 1 of the campaign.

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Greg Selinger’s bid to maintain the NDP’s hold on the power began with confidence despite poor polling numbers and some unwelcome guests on Day 1 of the campaign.

After the pomp and ceremony of a visit to Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon to officially launch the election that has essentially been underway for weeks, the embattled premier issued a warning while flanked by his cabinet ministers, a statue of Louis Riel in the background.

The Tories, Selinger said, would mean a return to the era of cuts, while the Liberal policies "do not add up."

As for how his party could reverse its downward trend in the polls, the embattled NDP premier noted "experience counts" and will make a difference over the 35-day campaign that ends when voters go to the polls April 19.

"I met a longtime pollster and he said back in the day when he started out, elections used to make about a six-point difference up or down; he says now elections can change 25 points in three days," Selinger said. "The reality is people sit back and they look at what the best alternatives are, and they evaluate those on a day-to-day basis."

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe NDP and their leader Greg Selinger held their first campaign rally at Sturgeon Creek Community Club Wednesday evening.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe NDP and their leader Greg Selinger held their first campaign rally at Sturgeon Creek Community Club Wednesday evening.

But Selinger’s campaign launch also included reminders of problems his government has faced.

Ready and waiting for premier as he was surrounded by the media was Fibber the Accountability Mascot from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, carrying a sign that said Cut The PST.ca. The stunt was a reminder of the political baggage surrounding a premier who broke a campaign promise from the 2011 election when he raised the provincial sales tax.

Later, at a rally with supporters at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre, a mother interrupting Selinger’s opening remarks. The woman grabbed his microphone to tell a crowd of confused NDP supporters that her children had been taken from her by Child and Family Services. Selinger handled the situation calmly, letting the woman and her partner speak to the crowd before they were ushered away. This two protesters were the same couple who interrupted Mayor Brian Bowman’s anti-racism news conference in January.

"We live in a democracy, people have a right to put their two cents on the table," Selinger said when asked about the two interruptions.

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>The NDP and their leader Greg Selinger held their first campaign rally at Sturgeon Creek Community Club Wednesday evening.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The NDP and their leader Greg Selinger held their first campaign rally at Sturgeon Creek Community Club Wednesday evening.