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Let the good times roll: The sillier side of life on the hustings

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To an idealist, election campaigns are all about ideas.

To a pragmatist, they’re all about mobilizing party resources in the right place at the right time.

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To a cynic, campaigns are necessary evils that must be endured before a vote.

But nobody ever remembers the hedonists, who merely want to be titillated during elections. For those of you simply looking for a good time, here are the highlights from the sillier side of the campaign:

 

Not quite the party Hugh expected

The Progressive Conservative campaign got off to a bit of goofy start when a DJ with more enthusiasm than political smarts chose to play LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem as leader Hugh McFadyen took the stage.

The ditty doesn’t exactly endear itself to female voters. "Yo, I’m runnin’ through these hos like Drano," LMFAO boasts.

McFadyen, a Coldplay fan, had nothing to do with the choice of music. But that DJ may never work a Tory party again.

McFadyen later conceded he hadn’t paid attention to the lyrics. He’s in good company — neither do LMFAO fans.

 

Not quite the party Greg expected, either

Three weeks into the campaign, a blogger dug up a 2010 photo of New Democratic Party leader Greg Selinger posing with members of hip-hop outfit Winnipeg’s Most at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards.

Some of the members have criminal records and ties to street gangs, CBC Radio confirmed.

Selinger, a Beatles fan, had never met the rappers in the photo before, of course. But NDP campaign manager Michael Balagus used the rap against the party leader as an opportunity to deliver one of the funniest lines of the election.

"We believe there is little danger that Manitobans will mistake Greg Selinger for a hip-hop gangster," Balagus said in a statement.

 

LMFAO: their music may not be the perfect fit for a Tory campaign.

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LMFAO: their music may not be the perfect fit for a Tory campaign. (MATT SAYLES / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES)

Wolbert wobbles, likely does fall down

For leader Jon Gerrard, the 2011 Liberal campaign was looking dire enough before one of his candidates questioned his leadership.

A week before the vote, St. Vital Liberal candidate Harry Wolbert mused it may be time to replace Gerrard.

"I guess ultimate responsibility rests with the leader. There are some within the party, within the public, who don’t like the leader," Wolbert told The Canadian Press.

After the story appeared online, Wolbert recanted.

"I wish to make something clear. Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard has my full support. This needs to be a campaign about ideas, not personalities," he announced on Twitter.

And to think people complain Liberals don’t take hard positions and stick to them.

 

Harry Wolbert

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Harry Wolbert

Give it time, he’s a little Green

After landing a spot in the televised leaders’ debate, Green Party head James Beddome quickly demonstrated he had enough composure to hang with the older, more wrinkled dudes behind the podium.

He also delivered a good zinger.

"Gary Filmon was smart enough to say no to Conawapa because he knew it would drive up our energy rates," Beddome told McFadyen. "Are you?"

Nobody appeared more surprised with Beddome’s performance than Beddome himself, who was caught on camera doing his best imitation of Ben Stiller’s Blue Steel look from Zoolander.

"Green steel," Beddome later corrected.

 

Stay calm and parry on

He’s normally pretty cool and nerdy, but Selinger got feisty during the first real leaders’ debate of the campaign. Feisty by Manitoba standards, we mean.

During a radio debate in Brandon, McFadyen said taxpayers must be protected in the NDP government’s decision to build a $100-million emergency channel to reduce high water levels on Lake Manitoba. Selinger cut him off.

"Are you flip-flopping on that, just like everything else?" Selinger interjected.

"We support the building of the channel. I don’t know why..." McFadyen tried to continue.

"You’ve got to spend the money to build it. You can’t have it both ways," Selinger interrupted again.

"Are you OK?" McFadyen asked.

"Are you OK? Are you OK?" Selinger fired back.

 

NDP leader Greg Selinger, right, with Progress Conservative leader Hugh McFayden.

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NDP leader Greg Selinger, right, with Progress Conservative leader Hugh McFayden. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)

Gerrard wins! The ad war, anyway

Arguably the best TV ad of the election belonged to the Liberals, who produced a spot where Gerrard stood in a playground above two fighting children who served as stand-ins for Selinger and McFadyen.

Not many people saw that spot, however. The 2011 campaign ad that will be remembered long after E-Day is the NDP’s "job interview" bit where McFadyen was ridiculed for having a nice suit.

This was tame, of course, in the grand scheme of election attack ads. For the record, McFadyen, Selinger and Gerrard all spend about $500 on their suits.

 

Tonight we’re gonna campaign like it’s 1999

Former Tory leader Gary Filmon isn’t running this year, but that didn’t stop the NDP from campaigning against the ex-premier’s record in office.

The Dippers invoked Filmon’s name as part of an effort to connect McFadyen with his former boss. At one point, PC campaign manager Marni Larkin joked she wondered when the NDP’s Selinger was going to hold a seance in an effort to hold late Tory premiers Duff Roblin and Sterling Lyon to account.

The Tories, of course, are campaigning against the Doer-Selinger government’s 12-year record. But nobody is campaigning against former Liberal premiers. For that, you’d need a really powerful psychic.

Although a Liberal-Progressive Alliance governed the province as recently as 1958, the last true Liberal premier of Manitoba was Tobias Norris, who held office from 1915 to 1922.

 

No future for you

They were billed as major announcements on the "future of Manitoba Hydro." Instead, they were reheated attacks on the Tories and repeated pledges to build northern dams that are already done deals.

During the campaign, reporters were summoned to a pair of manufactured Selinger speeches — one to party faithful and one at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce — that turned out to be almost complete wastes of time. Both were part of the NDP’s attempt to paint the Tories as secret privatizers.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... oh, never mind. We’re going to stop this line of thought before one of the opposition parties appropriates it as a campaign slogan.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

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