Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mayoral race turns Tory blue

First four considering 2014 run have conservative ties

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Winnipeg's mayoral race in 2014 is shaping up to be a centre-right affair, as all four people strongly considering a run have ties to Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives.

On Monday, privacy lawyer Brian Bowman told the Free Press he may run for mayor and will make a decision early in the new year.

Within hours of his potential candidacy entering wide circulation Tuesday, St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck and former St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves reaffirmed earlier announcements about taking a stab at the city's top job.

All four are provincial Progressive Conservatives. Steeves, a municipal lawyer, ran provincially in 2011 as the Tory candidate for Seine River, losing to NDP Health Minister Theresa Oswald. Bowman's name was bandied about as a potential provincial Progressive Conservative leader before Brian Pallister assumed that role. Fielding and Havixbeck are party members.

What is for now an all-Tory field could open up the race to a left-of-centre candidate. But all four candidates "strongly considering" a run at this point are trying to muster support from a broad spectrum of the electorate.

"You can't run for mayor as a candidate for a particular party," said Fielding, city council's protection chairman and head of the new Winnipeg Police Board. "You have to have a name for yourself, you have to have an organization and you have to appeal to a lot of different kinds of people."

Fielding, a two-term city councillor, said his final decision about whether to run will not hinge upon whether Sam Katz decides to run for mayor a fourth time. Although Fielding once stated his decision will depend on Katz's presence in a race, on Tuesday he said he will decide what to do without knowing the mayor's intentions.

"Sam obviously is still the big question mark. The fact he hasn't committed makes me assume he isn't going to run," Fielding said. "I'm out there talking to people, and I will see what they think. I want to do what's best for the city.

"I've made my career in doing what I think is right. That's been my focus, and I think the integrity piece will be an asset for me if I decide to run."

Havixbeck also cited integrity as a personal asset and said she too will make a final decision regardless of Katz's plans.

"I think we need A realistic, experienced approach at city hall. I think we need to restore trust and confidence and integrity," she said, adding the electorate is only concerned about the quality of the candidate, not party affiliation.

"I don't want to think about it as a right or a left (candidacy). I'm seeing people reach out from all political stripes," she said.

Steeves, who was a federal Liberal before running as a provincial Tory, addressed Winnipeg's social inequality in his first declaration of interest in the 2014 mayoral race.

On Tuesday, during an appearance at city hall to represent a client, Steeves reaffirmed he's considering a mayoral run and said he will make a decision before Christmas.

"I love what I'm doing now... but it's important what we do here, at city hall," he said.

Katz has not stated what he intends to do in 2014, aside from asking reporters whether they could come up with any reason he should not seek a fourth term.


-- With files from Aldo Santin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 B1

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