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As negative ads go, the world has seen much worse, but the practice of deploying the bogeyman is somewhat rare in Winnipeg's civic campaigns, which may only mean that the city hasn't witnessed too many tight mayoral races.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/10/2010 (4441 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As negative ads go, the world has seen much worse, but the practice of deploying the bogeyman is somewhat rare in Winnipeg’s civic campaigns, which may only mean that the city hasn’t witnessed too many tight mayoral races.

Mayor Sam Katz says in automated telephone messages to targeted voters that poor or elderly homeowners on fixed incomes could lose their homes if rival Judy Wasylycia-Leis is elected. She has promised to raise property taxes two per cent in each of the next four years, or $200 a year by 2014.

It could be enough to tip the scale for one or two homeowners, but probably not. The bigger risk to homeowners is general reassessments. Following the last reassessment, for example, the property values for many homeowners in the city’s poorest areas increased an average 117 per cent, or considerably above the city-wide average of 78 per cent.

It meant that some low-income property owners received tax bills this year that were $300 more than the year before, while much richer homeowners saw their tax bills frozen. One elderly widow said the increase meant she would have to cut her food bill or leave her home.

A negative campaigner might accuse Mayor Katz of having raised taxes on the poor, but it would be as unfair as saying a $200 tax increase will dispossess grandma and grandpa.

The trouble with attack ads is that they often work, but they can also backfire. All candidates should strive to give voters what they deserve — a fair and frank discussion of the issues, and not distractions.

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