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Liberals woo Wyatt to run in 2015 federal election

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Russ Wyatt is registered to run for a fourth term as city councillor in Transcona.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Russ Wyatt is registered to run for a fourth term as city councillor in Transcona. Photo Store

TRANSCONA Coun. Russ Wyatt is considering a run for the Liberal nomination in the federal Elmwood-Transcona riding -- where he helped elect Conservative Lawrence Toet in 2011.

Wyatt, a former provincial New Democrat, has met with Elmwood-Transcona Liberal riding-association officials about the nomination and has attended recent Liberal events, including an exclusive Aug. 15 fundraising luncheon at Ivory restaurant and a party for leader Justin Trudeau at the India Folkorama pavilion.

Wyatt, a city councillor since 2002, confirmed Liberals have repeatedly wooed him to run both at the federal and provincial levels. Four Liberal sources confirmed Wyatt has recently returned the interest -- and the party is delaying a nomination vote in case he applies.

Wyatt declined to comment on his interest in the Liberal nomination, noting he's running for a fourth term in Transcona. "Elmwood-Transcona is a riding the federal Liberals have never held," Wyatt said via text message.

"There is a civic election on Oct. 22. I am a registered candidate for that general election.

"Trudeau's people did approach me. However, no nomination date exists. They control that."

One other east Winnipeg Liberal, Andrea Richardson-Lipon, has expressed interest in the nomination. Liberal sources said she is pushing the party to set a nomination date.

She did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Wyatt declined to say whether he has proceeded with a nomination process that begins with filling out an online booklet that includes hundreds of questions and placing a $1,000 deposit.

Party sources were divided as to whether Wyatt has submitted a booklet. If he does, he would meet with a green-light committee that would likely approve his application for the nomination, based on his profile.

Wyatt has tremendous name recognition in Transcona, where he successfully lobbied all three levels of government to fund the $77-million Plessis Road widening and underpass.

He also endorsed Toet in the 2011 Elmwood-Transcona race, which saw the Tory defeat the NDP's Jim Maloway by 300 votes.

Wyatt got to know Toet in 2006, when both men were on the same side of a municipal fight against a proposed hog plant in east Winnipeg.

Toet did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Elmwood-Transcona is expected to be a race to watch in the next federal election, slated for the fall of 2015. Toet is being targeted by the NDP, which recently nominated Daniel Blaikie to carry its banner. Blaikie, an electrician, is the son of former NDP MP Bill Blaikie, who dominated the riding for three decades.

Wyatt was the second-last incumbent city councillor to register his re-election campaign. He waited until Aug. 22 to do so, sparking speculation he might retire from council or join the crowded race for mayor.

His competition in the Transcona ward is Ray Ulasy, who has an endorsement from the Winnipeg Labour Council.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2014 B1

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