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Leadership his calling card

Newest hopeful in mayoral ring directs U of M's native programs

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Robert-Falcon Ouellette, a university administrator running as a city hall outsider, kicked off his mayoral campaign Friday.

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Robert-Falcon Ouellette, a university administrator running as a city hall outsider, kicked off his mayoral campaign Friday.

The latest candidate for mayor of Winnipeg is a 37-year-old Cree, a married father of five, an ex-military officer 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 -- making timely and sound decisions, communicating information between various levels, making sure people are informed and setting expectations," Ouellette said as he stood in the courtyard outside city hall.

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 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.' "

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, such as disgruntled provincial Liberal Bob Axworthy.

Ouellette went to city hall alone Friday. There was no retinue such as the one that accompanied former St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves to his registration as a mayoral candidate. Ouellette didn't bring his family along for a photo op, as did mayoral candidates lawyer Brian Bowman and Charleswood Coun. Paula Havixbeck.

At an official campaign launch later in the day at the Caboto Centre, Ouellette told about a couple dozen supporters he grew up in poverty in a single-parent household and used his time in the military to develop leadership skills and a sense of "service and duty."

He said the Oct. 22 civic election 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.

He said he entered the military at 19 and, at the time, was the youngest person to hold the rank of sergeant at 22.

The military gave him an understanding of the importance of teamwork, proper planning, execution and responsibility for actions, he said.

Ouellette admitted to holding membership in the three main political parties but explained that was for academic research purposes.

In addition to Havixbeck, Steeves, Bowman and now Ouellette, other Winnipeg mayoral candidates are 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.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2014 B1

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