Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Let's start talking, people

City voters eye potential mayor, but they don't have much to go on

  • Print
Judy Wasylycia-Leis is at the top of the heap with voters as this year's mayoral contest inches closer.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Judy Wasylycia-Leis is at the top of the heap with voters as this year's mayoral contest inches closer. Photo Store

Eight months before Winnipeg elects its next mayor, Sam Katz is no longer the candidate to beat.

Two successive polls about voter intentions have placed Judy Wasylycia-Leis at the top of a crowded field of potential mayoral candidates. The former NDP MP and MLA, who finished second in Winnipeg's 2010 mayoral race, now appears to be the frontrunner in 2014.

An Insightrix Research poll commissioned by Global News and CJOB and released Monday suggested Wasylycia-Leis would have enjoyed 42 per cent of the vote, had the election been held in late January. Former St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves ranked second, while Katz, Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow and lawyer Brian Bowman trailed behind.

This result was similar to the findings of a Free Press-commissioned Probe Research poll that suggested Wasylycia-Leis had 45 per cent support in December. That poll didn't include Orlikow, who hadn't yet gone public, or Katz, who's sporting disastrous numbers for an incumbent.

While polls merely serve as snapshots of voter intentions at a particular point in time, the large spread between Wasylycia-Leis and the rest of the potential field suggests it's time for other candidates to work harder at establishing their identities.

To be frank, since none of Winnipeg's potential mayoral candidates has said much about anything so far, any opinion on any subject would make for a good start.

Officially, Winnipeg's mayoral race begins on May 1, when candidates are allowed to register their campaigns and begin raising and spending money. But there's nothing preventing candidates from getting their ideas out and trying to increase their profile even when they're not allowed to spend money.

Unlike in Toronto, where mayoral candidates such as Rob Ford and David Soknacki have already attended one public debate, Winnipeg's slate of would-be candidates have been extremely quiet, both on social media and in front of reporters' microphones.

The entire field is playing it safe while they work behind the scenes, meeting with small groups of potential supporters, putting together volunteer networks and trying to cobble together a platform.

Wasylycia-Leis, who neither works at a law firm nor is burdened by elected office, has been particularly busy at these tasks. It's fair to say she started working on her 2014 campaign the day after she lost to Katz in 2010.

On Monday, Wasylycia-Leis said she was encouraged to see two polls place her ahead of the competition, but insisted favourable polls are just one factor to consider before she confirms she will in fact run.

"It's certainly an important piece of information," she said during a telephone interview on Monday.

But in the next breath, she conceded it's highly unlikely anything could arise over the next few months to prevent her from running for mayor again. "I can't think of any," she said.

Wasylycia-Leis said she's learned from 2010, when she waited too long to unveil what she would do if elected mayor. "I know from the last election I need to be out earlier, and I need a concrete set of ideas," she said.

But don't expect to hear any of those ideas before May. Wasylycia-Leis said she's going to "complete a discussion with Winnipeggers" before she lets any ideas loose. Over the weekend, she held a meeting with 200 supporters in her own home for this purpose.

Steeves has adopted a similar strategy. On Sunday, for example, he tweeted out a call for ideas to improve recreation in Winnipeg.

Steeves, Wasylycia-Leis and Orlikow have all made suggestions about snow-clearing, but that's about it in terms of policy announcements. Katz hasn't raised new ideas and Bowman has been almost silent.

Havixbeck has been her usual visible self at city hall, while Fielding has promised to begin unveiling at least two policy planks per month.

But overall, Winnipeggers don't know what their would-be mayoral candidates stand for, beyond the vague outlines of their ideological orientations. The only common theme, for everyone other than Katz, is city hall needs to be fixed.

"People are concerned about an open and accountable government, an efficient administration and a credible plan to deal with our infrastructure problems," said Wasylycia-Leis, pretty much stating the obvious.

Only eight months before a momentous decision, Winnipeg deserves specifics. If Toronto's mayoral candidates can begin fleshing out ideas, so can the many would-be mayors of Winnipeg.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 11, 2014 B1

History

Updated on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 8:25 AM CST: Replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Doug & Buck gear up for Grey Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Canada send heavy military equipment to Ukraine?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google