For Cheryl Spencer, Wednesday was all about the signs.

She's a volunteer for Michael Kram, the Conservative candidate in Regina -- Wascana. On campaign Day 1, Spencer is the campaign's dedicated lawn sign manufacturer. There are at least 750 to work through. She's planning on a 12 hour day, at least. She stacks them up in neat piles and secures them with a ribbon tied in a smart little bow.

It's the official start of a 40-day campaign leading up to the Oct. 21 federal election, and Regina candidates from all parties are stepping up the pace they've built up over past weeks and months.

Kram's volunteers have been at work since February, but Spencer feels like she's crossed a threshold that's left her with a rush of energy and excitement.

"There's simply more to do," she said. "We're on the ground running, so instead of planning, it's more doing."

She calls it "wonderful."

Kram spent his morning at a roundtable discussion courting the province's leading francophone association. He plans to door knock until sundown. With the formal campaign underway, he's hoping to find voters ready to listen to his message.

"From the candidate's perspective, there is not a lot different," said Kram. "But I'm expecting to find more voters more engaged now than they used to be."

He's planning to target Whitmore Park on Wednesday afternoon. He might see his opponent there, in what's previously been a Liberal stronghold. Incumbent MP Ralph Goodale was considering an excursion over the same territory on Wednesday, weather permitting.

Goodale spent the morning going over "last minute odds and ends" stemming from his ministerial work. The public safety minister's duties continue, and he remains on call if disaster strikes. He just got back from a 24-hour trip to hurricane ravaged Halifax. But his campaign manager said he's now ready to shift into campaign mode.

"The last few weeks he's been very focussed on the campaign," said Sean McEachern, a veteran of past Goodale victories. "But now it's like boom -- this is where he spends his days now in the campaign office here, and goes out door knocking in the afternoon and evening."

The campaign office on Victoria Avenue East has space for phone banks, sign making and a refuelling station for volunteer canvassers.

Goodale is wading through a pile of tasks, proofreading election materials and doing fundraising work. He'll also be fielding requests to travel throughout the country. He can't take them all.

"Ralph's always a candidate that the party wants to have go across the country," McEachern said. "He needs to be engaging with people, and he can't do that if he's somewhere else. So we make sure that there's a good balance."

The official campaign launch is more than a psychological barrier. It means a legal regime of spending caps snaps into place. Goodale's campaign has been investing in billboards across his riding.

In the next riding to the west, Regina -- Lewvan, NDP candidate Jigar Patel is also putting his money into billboards. He said he'll have five in total at key locations like the corner of Dewdney Avenue and Lewvan Drive.

That's where Patel supporters spent a rainy afternoon greeting passing vehicles. About 50 volunteers joined Patel to occupy all four corners of the intersection and greet passing motorists with a sea of orange signs.

"I'm very excited for the official launch of the election," said Patel. "I'm really prepared."

Patel said his team has knocked on 24,000 doors since they began. According to his account, he's been working five or seven hour days. Now he plans to step it up to 11.

"I want to do canvassing every single hour, every single minute," he said.

His chief rivals in Regina -- Lewvan, Warren Steinley for the Conservatives and Winter Fedyk for the Liberals, have also been hard at work.

She too met with the francophone group and then joined a campaign call with the prime minister, before doing a radio interview and heading out door knocking. It was a roughly 12-hour schedule.

"It's been a long day," Fedyk reported by text message.

"I think they're all going to be that way. At least they only feel like four hours."

Steinley was out late on Tuesday knocking on doors in Walsh Acres. He moved swiftly, asking voters what they thought about Andrew Scheer and dropping well-honed party messages about affordability and the need to vote Conservative to ditch the Liberals.

His campaign said he was out again on Wednesday. He said he has knocked on nearly 25,000 doors by now, about the same number Patel claims.

Steinley's office is well stocked with poll maps, posters and Warren Steinley-branded frisbees. He has his own button maker and can put one together in about 20 seconds.

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

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