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Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister arrives to a news conference to announce that the provincial election is under way after a visit to the lieutenant-governor on Aug. 12, 2019, in Winnipeg.David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press

In a provincial election with a major focus on the environment, it seems even a slogan can be recycled.

Manitoba Progressive Conservatives have adopted the phrase “Moving Manitoba Forward” for their campaign leading to the Sept. 10 vote.

The slogan is, word for word, the same one the New Democrats under former premier Greg Selinger used in the 2016 election, which saw the Tories sweep the NDP from power after 17 years.

“If the NDP used that slogan, they used it incorrectly,” Progressive Conservative Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday.

“We are using it and Manitobans can depend on the fact that under a PC government we will actually continue to move Manitoba meaningfully forward.”

The NDP said the imitation was a sign of desperation.

“They didn’t even get a full term under their belts and they ran out of new ideas,” NDP campaign spokesperson Erin Selby said in a statement.

There were already signs of negativity on the second day of the four-week campaign.

The NDP revealed two 15-second ads that feature people complaining about health care and roads in poor condition. Each ad ends with a woman appearing to call Tory Leader Brian Pallister an “ass,” although the word is partially drowned out by an ambulance siren or traffic.

The Progressive Conservatives have already produced videos that, minus similar name-calling, criticize NDP Leader Wab Kinew for his brushes with the law.

One ad mentions a charge Kinew faced in 2003 for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend. The charge was later stayed by the Crown and Kinew has denied the accusation. The ex-girlfriend said in media interviews in 2017 that Kinew threw her across the couple’s living room during an argument, giving her severe rug burns.

The Liberals, who have run ads accusing Pallister of creating chaos in health care, focused on climate change Tuesday and promised to plant more trees if they form government.

Leader Dougald Lamont said he would provide subsidies to encourage Manitoba residents to plant, on average, five trees each.

“We’ll actually make them available to people so they can order them and they’ll be able to get them for free or at a very low cost,” Lamont said.

The tree-planting promise is in addition to a 25-page environment plan the Liberals released in the spring, which includes a carbon tax, incentives to help people improve insulation in their homes and investments in municipal transit.

The Tories promised Tuesday that, if re-elected, they would cut passenger vehicle registration fees by $35 – the latest in a string of pocketbook promises that also include lifting the provincial sales tax from home insurance.

The NDP promised to hire 30 more nurses and add 75 training spots for nursing students at Red River College.

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