Families of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran outraged by Manitoba PC landfill search ad

An election attack ad by Manitoba’s PC party is being viewed as insensitive. Why some political experts believe the party’s tactic is an attempt to appeal to the PC party’s base amid dismal polling numbers. Edward Djan has more.

Hurtful. Heartless. Disgusting.

That’s how the families of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are describing a Manitoba PC newspaper ad that highlights, in part, the province’s decision not to search a landfill for the remains of the two Indigenous women.

The full-page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press Saturday touts the governing Tories’ promises on a few issues including tax cuts and violent crime.

On the decision not to search the Prairie Green Landfill, the words “Stand Firm” appear in large text. In smaller font is the phrase: “For health and safety reasons, the answer on the landfill dig just has to be no.”

The remains of Harris and Myran are believed to have been dumped in the Prairie Green Landfill, a private operation north of Winnipeg, last year.

Their families and many others were left outraged by the ad. Demonstrators made their discontent heard outside Heather Stefanson’s constituency office Monday.

“I’d like to say it’s hurtful. At this point, nothing surprises me anymore with her. She’s just showing the rest of the world how heartless she really is,” Melissa Robinson, Harris’ cousin, said of the Manitoba premier.


“I don’t think she should be using this fight as a political issue or using it as her fight,” added Jorden Myran, Marcedes Myran’s sister. “These are women’s remains in a landfill. That’s not what she should be using it for.

“She’s a disgusting person for doing what she is doing right now.”

Stefanson trying to play to base: expert

Stefanson has repeatedly said no to a search of the Prairie Green landfill. The Progressive Conservative leader voluntarily brought up the topic during a televised debate Thursday in a question to NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

“Why are you willing to put $184 million and Manitoba workers at risk for a search?” she asked Kinew.

As polling shows the Conservatives trailing the NDP as the election campaign enters its final week, experts believe Stefanson is attempting to consolidate her party’s base by employing such tactics.

“I think what you see is the Conservative Party really trying to play to its base,” said Scott MacKay, the president of Probe Research. “That’s more of a defensive move at this point, to be looking at who are your hardcore supporters and what do they want to hear so you don’t lose them.”

Polling from Probe Research commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV shows the NDP with an 11-point advantage over the PCs.

The divide is even greater in Winnipeg, with the NDP receiving 57 per cent of support from respondents compared to 28 per cent for the PCs.

WATCH: Manitoba NDP ahead of Manitoba PCs: Angus Reid poll

An Angus Reid Institute poll last week suggested Kinew’s New Democrats have a six-point advantage over the governing Progressive Conservatives.

“Heather Stefanson has had some challenges with trying to improve her popularity amongst Manitobans,” said Kelly Saunders, a political science professor at Brandon University.

“She is still lagging behind certainly Wab Kinew, and even in some ways, Dougald Lamont as well, the leader of the Liberal Party.”

If the PCs do lose their majority government status after Oct. 3, Manitoba would become the first province in Canada since 2021 to not re-elect an incumbent provincial Conservative government.

And if that happens, some feel the PCs may have to deal with the ramifications of their advertisement choices after the election.

“There’s a price to be paid if you come out too negative, maybe a little bit too extremist,” said Saunders.

More reaction to newspaper ad

Several politicians and others weighed in on the PC newspaper ad.

Marc Miller, a former minister of Crown-Indigenous relations who was shifted to immigration, refugees and citizenship in July, expressed disappointment.

The current minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, Gary Anandasangaree, called the situation “heart-wrenching.”

Carol McBride, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said she was outraged.

Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the Tories took out the ad because the public and the media continue to have questions about why the provincial government refused to conduct the search.

Kinew accused the Tories of being divisive.

—With files from The Canadian Press

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