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The Tories bash back

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Wowza. Now that’s what I call an effective attack ad.

If you haven’t already seen them, the Tories have released their first round of campaign ads, their answer to the NDP’s now-infamous "Hugh McFadyen wants to pee in Lake Winnipeg" campaign.

The Tory ads are heavy on the Hugh – a gloomy, pensive rosy-cheeked Hugh brooding over the failures of the last 11 years and the decline of Winnipeg’s core. The ads are also very Winnipeg-y – lots of ice-foggy shots of the railyards, the North End, the downtown skyline, the Arlington Street bridge – not a pastoral wheat field in sight, because the Tories already won most of those. It’s exactly the Winnipeg we know and mostly love, and the Winnipeg the Tories need to win.

The ads are focused, the language is simple, direct and just vague enough and, as a very smart politico friend of mine noted, they barely mention the NDP and never namecheck Premier Greg Selinger once.

The ads are also quite cynical. The message is, essentially, Winnipeg has gone to crap with all the crime and potholes and ice jams in people’s eaves troughs and we’re going to film a commercial on a cloudy day and play some downbeat cellos to make sure you know it.

It’s a classic tactic of every opposition party trying to foment the feeling that it’s time for change, but it’s a degrading and fundamentally dishonest view of the city.

But, man, it works.

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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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