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Charges don't deter Steen

Hopes to retain seat despite legal woes

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Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files
Even if he is re-elected, Coun. Thomas Steen might have to forfeit his seat.

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Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files Even if he is re-elected, Coun. Thomas Steen might have to forfeit his seat.

First-time city councillor Thomas Steen has decided he'll try his political fortune even while facing criminal charges.

Steen, 54, registered his re-election campaign late Friday.

Steen, who is facing criminal charges for an alleged assault on a woman in the spring and a charge of breaching a no-contact order pertaining to the victim of the alleged assault, said he doesn't know how his legal troubles will affect his chances for representing Elmwood-East Kildonan.

"I have no idea," Steen said as he left city hall. "I'll find out when I start door-knocking."

Steen spent a night in jail last week after being accused of breaching a court order stemming from a domestic-assault arrest.

Steen was arrested July 11 and not released from custody until appearing before a provincial magistrate the following morning.

Steen was initially arrested in May following an alleged incident at the Boston Pizza on McPhillips Street involving a woman known to him.

Sources told the Free Press the alleged attack involved a punch to the head. The victim was not seriously injured.

None of the allegations has been proven in court and Steen is presumed innocent. Steen was released on a promise to appear in court. His cases are still pending.

Steen has refused to comment about the alleged assault and said his lawyer told him Friday not to talk about it.

The only other registered candidate for the ward is Paul Quaye.

If re-elected, Steen could still lose his seat if convicted on the assault charge. Section 47 of the city charter states a member of council forfeits his or her seat if convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.

Steen is not known for voicing his concerns at city hall, either at committee or on the floor of council, but he was eager to talk about his campaign.

"I love this job," Steen said. "I learned a lot in the first four years and we got lots done in the area, but I feel I want to do more."

Steen cited streetscaping improvements on Henderson Highway and Watt Street as key accomplishments during his first term, and said there were also major makeovers of the ward's recreational facilities.

"We're doing the parks and community centres, keeping the youth busy at those places," he said. "When I became councillor, people said the ward was at the tipping point and falling apart, but I don't think they think that today."

Before winning the council seat in 2010, Steen enjoyed a successful professional hockey career that included 14 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2014 B3

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