A year ago, mysterious full-page ads appeared in the local newspaper. The ads, from a group calling themselves Manitoba Forward, criticized the provincial government’s ambitious development plans for Manitoba Hydro. As I documented in an earlier blog post, there was very little information on the internet about this group called “Manitoba Forward”, forcing one to speculate about who was behind this new campaign.
While the ads were truthful, and the points made about Manitoba Hydro’s foolhardy expansion plans were valid, the effectiveness of the message was undermined by the anonymous nature of the sponsor. As I wrote at that time:
we don’t know who the heck Manitoba Forward is, or what organization funded these full page ads in the Winnipeg Sun and Winnipeg Free Press, and that means that the credibility of these ads is weakened
That is why it is important for people with more credibility to speak up. People like the aforementioned Graham Lane.
Now, with a provincial election looming, Manitoba Forward has returned and they are no longer anonymous. And guess who is at the helm? Graham Lane. (At least for the time being.)
For those not familiar with Graham Lane: he was chairman of the Public Utilities Board for many years and is now a frequent newspaper editorialist, generally writing about government waste and mismanagement. One of my favourite columns of his continues to be this explanation of the government’s conflicted position regarding Hydro’s expansion plans.
Lane is now Chairman of Manitoba Forward, and is hoping to take his message to a wider audience with the help and support of many others who share his views.
The non-partisan political advocacy group held a screening of it’s new web ad at CanadInns Polo Park this past Monday, in a packed boardroom that included members of the Liberal, Green, and Progressive Conservative Parties. From a small initial membership, they have ambitious goals to grow into an organization with thousands of members, rallying around a common theme of improved provincial governance. The idea is to be “opinion leaders” in the Manitoba political sphere and to drive a conversation about what is going wrong and how it can be done better.
They hope to do this initially by building a web presence through social media and “pre-roll” ads on local media sites, but don’t be surprised to see public rallies and events in the coming year.
They are organized, and determined to make an impact leading up to the next election. How well that goes depends on fund-raising, press coverage, word of mouth and the effectiveness of their message. However, having real names and faces associated with the group will help a great deal. Especially a notable one like Mr. Lane.