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Steeves' mayoral-run kickoff may have violated election spending rules

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Gord Steeves, with his wife Lorri and family Hayden, Camille and Abigail, after he announced he will run for mayor in the 2014 election.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Gord Steeves, with his wife Lorri and family Hayden, Camille and Abigail, after he announced he will run for mayor in the 2014 election. Photo Store

One of Gord Steeves' potential rivals in the 2014 mayoral race says the former councillor's campaign launch may have violated city rules governing spending during elections.

Steeves, who served as the councillor for St. Vital for 11 years, launched his mayoral campaign Monday at Assiniboine Park's Family Centre.

According to the City of Winnipeg Charter and Winnipeg's campaign-expenses bylaw, candidates may not spend any money until they register their campaigns, acting city clerk Carlos Gameiro said Tuesday. The registration period for 2014 mayoral candidates begins at the end of April.

Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is mulling a mayoral run, said she believes Steeves violated city rules by renting a venue and spending money on T-shirts, balloons, posters and a website before the campaign registration period.

"At best, it’s an oversight. At worst, it’s rule-breaking. People don’t want any more rules broken at city hall," she said Tuesday, adding Steeves pledged to restore trust in government at his launch event. "You kick off a campaign on the premise of breaking rules? It's really deplorable."

Steeves, who works as a lawyer, said he's looking into whether he followed campaign-finance rules. He said the cost of the event was minimal.

"It wasn't very much. I know that," he said.

The maximum penalty for anyone convicted of spending money outside the campaign-registration period is a $5,000 fine, Gameiro said.

The city clerk's office could not comment on Steeves' event before looking into it, he said.

Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 22, 2014. Steeves is the only candidate to declare he will run for mayor.

Other candidates mulling runs include Havixbeck, current mayor Sam Katz, St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, lawyer Brian Bowman and former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

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