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Hello, Sandra Buckler? Hugh McFadyen here....

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Dang, what do the Tories need to do to keep a flak?Melissa Ridgen, the Tories' latest director of communications, resigned late last week. She came up to the press room to let us know yesterday in a most casual way. It's not a huge shock. She was a controversial figure in these halls - intense, immature, relentlessly partisan and a bit impolitic. She was always calling the NDP "commies," she wasn't great on the nuances of policy wonkery and she had a habit of firing off snitty e-mails in the morning when she didn't like a story. Plus, there was that DUI in Brandon. Many said Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen should have fired her right away.But, in a building full of tight-lipped and tip-toey young party workers who have all sipped a little too much orange Kool-Aid, I had to admire her candor and pizzazz. She grew on me as the session wore on. And the Tories did seem to finally get a bit of momentum in the spring with a filibuster that forced the NDP to back down (at least for a couple months) on their legislative agenda. So I thought maybe she might settle in to the job, though it's a role that really requires some long-term vision and some sophisticated strategizing. I'm not sure that's the forte of any former reporter who can't see three phone calls into the future let alone three years.As someone smarter than me said, it's also a slog being an opposition staffer, especially when Doer has such a grip on power and never does anything interesting enough to risk a mistake. It's clearly been tough getting someone good to take the job and stay long enough to make a difference, just like it's hard to assemble a roster of really great candidates. I've never seen a really good opposition flak long-term and up close. I'm not sure what one looks like.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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