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'If it walks like a PC attack ad': Out-of-province group attacks Manitoba NDP leader in advertising campaign

An ad campaign from an out-of-province group is fanning the political flames in Manitoba.

In recent weeks, the Canada Growth Council – which has ties to conservatives in Saskatchewan – has been targeting the Manitoba NDP and leader Wab Kinew through a series of attack ads through text messages, social media posts, and on billboards.

"The attack ads unfortunately come with the territory but I think Manitobans see through these kind of tactics,” Kinew told CTV News Friday.

According to its website, the Canada Growth Council advocates for the growth and prosperity of Canada. A link on the website clicks to a Facebook page called "Manitoba Watch 2023."

On the page, ads claim the NDP will distribute illicit drugs, raise taxes exponentially, and form an alliance with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

The Canada Growth Council is also behind a text message sent to some Manitobans earlier this week.

"Organizations do have the right to do this if they have opinions, if they want to advocate, if they want to engage in these kinds of activities,” Royce Koop, a political studies professor at the University of Manitoba, told CTV News on Friday. “However, citizens have to be critical consumers of this kind of material. It’s not coming from parties, it’s coming from outside organizations.”

However, the NDP is crying foul – and filed two complaints with Elections Manitoba.

The NDP alleges Canada Growth Council’s ads violate third-party advertising rules, and say the messaging aligns with similar attacks made by the Manitoba PC Party.

"This is all they got,” Kinew said. “The PCs aren’t going to be able to run on health care because they really damaged the health care system. So you’re going to see a lot more of these personal attacks between now and voting day."

In an emailed statement to CTV news, a PC spokesperson said “(The) PC caucus has not had any role with this third party group whatsoever.”

However, Dougald Lamont, the leader of the Manitoba Liberals, isn’t convinced.

“If it walks like a PC attack ad, it talks like a PC attack ad, and it looks like a PC attack ad --- it probably is a PC attack ad,” Lamont said.

He said these types of ads are an attack on democracy,

“Somebody needs to explain who paid for them and why. Because if it wasn’t the PCs, exactly why is it that a group from Saskatchewan even cares about what our election is going to be.”

Koop said any allegations of coordination between the PCs and Canada Growth Council are possible, but the claims lack evidence.

"A lot of the things being said or written about Wab Kinew are in the public domain,” Koop said. “They've been in the public domain for a very long time and in fact, Mr. Kinew has addressed them himself.”

Third-party groups must register with Elections Manitoba if they spend more than $2,500 on advertisements in the pre-election or election period.

Elections Manitoba said the Canada Growth Council hasn’t registered as of June 9.

The Canada Growth Council did not respond to requests for comment. Top Stories


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