The NDP calls it a "contrast" ad, but it’s more commonly known as a good old-fashioned political attack ad.
The ad was released today at the NDP’s annual general meeting and is up on YouTube now. It features a theme Manitobans will hear a lot more about as the province gears up for a spring 2016 general election and the NDP attempts to pull itself out of a rut not seen among party loyalists since the dog days of the late 1980s and the fall of the then ruling NDP to Gary Filmon’s Progressive Conservatives.
The ad, to air through the Olympics TV coverage, depicts Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister as a cutter of basic essential services, and that should his Tories triumph in the next election Manitobans can expect to return to an era of fewer frontline services, particularly in health care and education.
Pallister has already said the ad says more about the desperation of the NDP than of him.
Premier Greg Selinger’s chief of staff Liam Martin said today the ad is factual and tested in front of focus groups before getting the green light.
"It’s puts on record what Brian Pallister stands for," Martin said. "The thinking is behind the ad is that we want to get our message out now to define Brian Pallister and what he stands for and do it while people are watching TV."
The ad will cost an average of $6,000 to air each time. The NDP is using the convention to solicit donations from delegates towards that.
"It’s a significant ad-buy," Martin said. "We think it will help change the conversation."
That conversation involves reversing the downward spiral of the NDP in popular support since it took office for a fourth consecutive term in October 2011. That tailspin is tied to the New Democrats extending the number of goods and services to be taxed under the provincial sales tax in 2012 and then raising the PST by one percentage point to eight per cent in last year’s budget.
Earlier in the morning federal Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair spoke to the 450 delegates in a speech that touched on everything from getting rid of the Senate to the next federal election in the fall of 2015.
"What is it with this undemocratic, unelected, unaccountable, under indictment Senate? Let’s get rid of it once and for all," he said.
"Canadians are looking for leadership," he added. "They are tired of being told that they have no choice but to alternate between the red and blue doors of Liberal and Conservative corruption."
Mulcair told reporters the Selinger government should not believe its low polling numbers.
He pointed to his own low polling numbers in the last federal election and the election results that saw the NDP win 59 of the 75 seats in Quebec.
"I know Greg Selinger has been doing the tough things," he said. "Greg and his team have my full support. Manitoba under NDP stewardship is a progressive place. I’m watching the Conservatives in Ottawa. I know what the Conservative agenda is and I’m going to do everything I can to keep the Manitoba government in place. . . because I know it’s a government that takes care of people first."