Canadian province Manitoba set to re-elect majority Progressive Conservative government

(Reuters) - Voters in Canada’s western province of Manitoba were set to re-elect the right-leaning Progressive Conservative (PC) party led by Brian Pallister on Tuesday, CTV news predicted, as poll results were tabulated.

FILE PHOTO: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaks to the press following the First Ministers' Meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

The re-election of Pallister and his Conservative party will add to the challenges facing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions and other initiatives have run into opposition from Pallister and fellow conservative premiers from Ontario and other provinces.

Manitoba’s economy depends on farming, manufacturing and mining.

Trudeau’s Liberal government will seek a second term in a national election on Oct. 21, with the formal campaign set to kick off on Wednesday.

The PCs were on track to win 35 seats, CTV projected, well ahead of the second-place New Democrats, who looked set to win 19. The Liberals were in third place with three seats, while the Green party failed to win a seat. In Manitoba, a party needs to win 29 seats to secure a majority.

Pallister’s PCs held 38 of the province’s 57 seats before the election, while the NDP held 14.

“We face our challenges together, Manitobans do that, and today and tonight they said they appreciated the fact that we fixed the finances and we’re repairing the services and we’re rebuilding the economy,” Pallister told supporters in a victory speech.

First elected in 2016, Pallister’s government has steadily reduced Manitoba’s fiscal deficit and this year kept a promise to reduce the province’s sales tax by one point to 7%.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew welcomed Tuesday’s results in a concession speech, noting the party had increased its seat count and said the NDP accepted the outcome with humility and honor.

“We are going to stand up for a Manitoba that works for all of us,” said Kinew, whose party will now form the province’s Official Opposition in the legislature.

Pallister, 65, grew up on a Manitoba farm before working as a school teacher and financial consultant. He also held office in both the provincial legislature and federal parliament.

He called the election just three years into his mandate, a year ahead of schedule, saying he did not want it to conflict with celebrations of Manitoba’s 150th anniversary in 2020.

Pallister has faced criticism that he spends too much time at his vacation home in Costa Rica, a charge he has denied.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait