The latest candidate for mayor is a 37-year-old Cree, married father of five, ex-military and currently a university administrator who believes accountability and responsibility are missing from city hall.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette officially registered his mayoral campaign Friday morning and later said he believes council needs an attitude change.
"People sometimes don’t have an adequate understanding of what leadership means," Ouellette said while standing in the courtyard outside city hall. "People toss them about as a vague concept but (leadership) is very concrete actions you should be taking every day.
"Making timely and sound decision, communicating information between various levels, making sure people are informed, and setting expectations."
Ouellette said he spent several years researching how city government inter-acted with the Aboriginal community and other groups and then was recently pressured by friends and colleagues to put that accumulated knowledge to use by running for mayor.
"I just don’t believe (civic) politicians are doing a real good job right now of delving into the really complex issues that we are facing," Ouellette said. "People said to me, ‘Robert, get off your high horse....You have all this knowledge about the city, just do something.’"
Military developed 'service and duty'
Ouellette is running as a city hall outsider: He boasts he has no political ties or connections to the community’s powerful business and political elite. His campaign team consists of mostly fellow academics, he said, and some volunteers with previous political connections — like disgruntled provincial Liberal Bob Axworthy.
Ouellette went to city hall alone; there was no parade of followers like those that accompanied former St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves; and Ouellette didn’t bring his family as a photo op, as was done by lawyer Brian Bowman and Charleswood councillor Paula Havixbeck.
At an official campaign launch later in the day at the Caboto Centre, Ouellette told about a couple dozen supporters that he grew up in poverty in a single-parent household and used his time in the military to develop leadership skills and about "service and duty."
The civic election, he said, is an opportunity for Winnipeggers of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds to choose a new style of leadership.
"In the face of corruption, you continue to believe in honesty, in the face of exclusion you continue to believe in the ideal of one city," Ouellette said. "It is time to stand up to the face of old politics, which seems to continually ignore the real issues of our fair city.
"While its citizens are working towards the common good, sadly we are faced with a system that has shut us out, that wastes our money, that has told us to settle, that’s divided us for too long."
Youngest to hold rank of sergeant
Ouellette said he entered the military at 19 and, at the time, was the youngest to hold the rank of sergeant at the age of 22.
The military provided him with the understanding of the importance of concepts of teamwork, proper planning, execution and responsibility for actions, Ouellette said, adding he believes he can bring these to city hall.
"In the military, we had a phrase, ‘never pass a fault,’" he said. "As a mayor, you have to demand people take responsibility for their actions and fulfill their duty to their jobs."
Voters have lost faith in politicians and the political process, he said, adding the low turnout at civic elections is evidence of that.
Too many politicians have short-term targets whose long-term goal is only to get re-elected every four years.
"This is not how I would do something, this is not how I would run my house."
Ouellette admitted to holding membership in the three main political parties but explains that was for academic research purposes.
Other registered candidates for mayor are: Coun. Paula Havixbeck; lawyer and former councillor Gord Steeves; lawyer Brian Bowman; funeral home operator Mike Vogiatzakis; exotic dancer booking agent Michel Fillion; and unemployed Internet blogger Gordon Warren.
Former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis is expected to enter the race.
Mayor Sam Katz, whose popularity has reached record low levels after 10 years in office, said he will announce in June whether he will run again.