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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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