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Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.

Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives have triggered a provincial election a year ahead of schedule, as the party seeks to take advantage of a weakened NDP Opposition.

On one side is PC Leader Brian Pallister, who has been Premier for three years and has joined a bloc of conservative leaders from across the country taking aim at the federal carbon tax and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. He has spent his first term focusing on cutting taxes and leashing in spending on areas like health-care and education.

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His main opponent is NDP Leader Wab Kinew, a musician and former CBC personality who took over the party two years ago and is aiming to return the party to government after three years in Opposition.

Mr. Kinew faces an uphill battle. His party has raised significantly less money than the Progressive Conservatives and most opinion polls have the NDP in a distant second, with a level of support about the same as the party received in the last election.

Mr. Pallister has also focused on attacking Mr. Kinew for his past, including criminal convictions (for which he received record suspensions) and an accusation of assault from a former girlfriend. Mr. Kinew acknowledged a “difficult period” in his life from more than a decade ago and apologized in a book published before he was elected to lead the NDP.

The Progressive Conservative leader is pitching a message of “trust and taxes” as he promises to keep spending under control while pursuing more tax cuts, in addition to a recent one percentage point cut to the provincial sales tax.

Mr. Kinew is asking voters to punish the PCs over cuts to education and health care, notably the closure of emergency rooms and the layoff of several hundred nurses. He says the NDP would "undo the damage” wrought by Mr. Pallister’s government and he has already pledged to open two ERs in Winnipeg.

While Mr. Pallister has aligned with other conservative Premiers such as Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Ontario’s Doug Ford, it’s not clear how much time he’ll spend talking about Mr. Trudeau and the federal carbon tax. Manitoba is currently in Federal Court challenging how the tax is applied in the province. But he did not mention the Prime Minister or the tax in his fist speech of the campaign yesterday.

He’s also fended off criticism over his leadership style, in particular his long vacations at his home in Costa Rica, where he does not access his government e-mail.

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Scott MacKay, the president of Winnipeg-based polling firm Probe Research, says Mr. Pallister has been combative in a way that Manitobans aren’t used to, but it hasn’t appeared to have hurt his popularity.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.

Around the West:

Manhunt: Autopsy results have concluded the two men sought in the killings of three people in British Columbia died from what appears to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds, days before their bodies were found in the woods of Northern Manitoba. RCMP said two firearms were found with the remains of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, but it’s not clear exactly when they died. RCMP committed Monday to revealing some of what their investigation has discovered, though the answers won’t come for a couple weeks.

Mr. Schmegelsky’s father, Al, told an Australian television reporter that he’s not yet convinced his son was a murderer and that he sympathizes with the victims’ families.

Federal housing funding: There have been at least 45 announcements about federal dollars to be contributed to housing developments since January, with Liberal MPs and ministers across the country holding almost weekly news conferences. But according to a Canadian housing expert, although the money will make a difference in enabling lower rents on particular projects, it took a long time coming, and still doesn’t come close to matching the enormous dollar figures that federal politicians tout in the Liberals’ new national housing strategy: $40-billion in an early version, $55-billion in later ones.

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Teen overdose: RCMP in Langley, B.C., are investigating whether any crimes were committed at a local skateboard park before the sudden death of a 14-year-old, who was broadcast on social media taking drugs in the hours before his suspected overdose. Corporal Holly Largy said about 10 Mounties from the Langley detachment are now involved in the “very active” investigation into the death of Carson Crimeni last Wednesday.

Boxer death: The City of Edmonton has denied any involvement or responsibility in the death of a man following a boxing match two years ago. In a statement of defence filed in response to a lawsuit by the family of Tim Hague, the city says the fighter signed a liability waiver prior to the fight in June 2017.

A report into Hague’s death recommended the city improve fighter safety and oversight. It said some Edmonton Sports Combative Commission rules were not followed before the event, including medical information on the fighters not being provided to physicians. Globe reporter Alan Maki reported last year that Hague’s death highlighted the regulation gaps in Alberta’s pro-fighting industry.

Internet access: A group that surveyed 472 low-income Canadians found that more than half paid more than $70 a month for internet service. More than 35 per cent of respondents, who hailed from 21 cities across five provinces, said paying for an internet connection came at the expense of basic necessities such as food, clothing or transit. The group wants the federal government to dramatically expand a program to offer subsidized service to poor families.

Gondolas sabotaged: RCMP are investigating how someone apparently sabotaged the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, B.C., by deliberately cutting the multistrand steel cable midway along the line, weakening the entire system so that most of the 31 aerial cabin cars crashed to the ground. No one was injured in the crash about 4 a.m. on Saturday morning. “This is a criminal investigation,” Squamish RCMP Constable Ashley MacKay said . “The cable is made up of steel and multiple strands. We don’t believe that it would just snap.”

Badlands Rodeo: For 54 years, the rodeo at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park has been contested amid the canyons, grasslands, hoodoos and sandstone cliffs of the Badlands in southern Alberta. Cowboys compete beneath a crescent moon and camp beneath the Milky Way. In July, the park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the collection of thousands of Indigenous rock carvings and paintings within it.

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Carbon capture: Canadian farmers are cultivating some sustainable farming techniques that the United Nations’ latest climate change report identified as particularly useful for an industry it concluded must make drastic changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The Globe on city beaches: Summers in the city are sweaty. Those who can afford to, escape to distant lakes and cottages. But there are already cool waters on the doorsteps of Canada’s three biggest downtown areas. It’s time to take the leap and bring the beach, and a swim in clean water, back to the heart of our cities.”

Jonathan English and Alon Levy on skyrocketing subway construction costs: “Canadian costs were not always especially high by world standards. Toronto’s Sheppard subway was completed in 2002 for about $166-million a kilometre. The same pattern is true in other cities. Montreal’s Laval Metro extension cost $143-million a kilometre in 2007, while the recent Blue Line extension plan is projected to cost $775-million. Vancouver’s mostly underground Canada Line, completed in 2009, cost only $106-million a kilometre, while the planned all-underground Broadway Skytrain will cost nearly $500-million a kilometre.”

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