THE ink was barely dry on Lito Taruc's registration papers when Winnipeg's latest council candidate found himself on the receiving end of a political jab.
On Thursday afternoon, the Filipino community leader and CKJS radio host registered his campaign for Daniel McIntyre, where four left-of-centre candidates have already signed up.
Less than an hour later, incumbent Coun. Harvey Smith, who used to count on support from the Filipino community in the inner-city ward, characterized Taruc as a pawn of Mayor Sam Katz who doesn't live in Daniel McIntyre.
According to his registration papers, Taruc resides at a Tuxedo address.
"I think Lito's a good Conservative. He'd be the mayor's person," Smith said at Central Park shortly before Katz and other politicians officially reopened the inner-city green space.
The 18-year city hall veteran, who's represented Daniel McIntyre since 1998 and also sat on council from 1980 to 1986, said he's confident he will defeat Taruc on Oct. 27, regardless of how well the president of the Philippine Association of Manitoba mobilizes a Filipino community that comprises at least 18 per cent of his inner-city ward.
Taruc, however, said he has no political affiliations and insisted he was not urged to run for council by anyone other than ordinary citizens. He said his primary concerns are crime and the condition of back lanes in Daniel McIntyre -- the two issues that also most concern Smith.
Taruc acknowledged the Filipino community supported Smith in the past, but said "this time it's different."
Even before Taruc registered to run, Daniel McIntyre was very competitive. Smith was locked in a struggle with three other candidates -- Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin's assistant Keith Bellamy, school trustee Cindy Gilroy-Price and insurance broker John Cardoso. Bellamy, who wrested the NDP endorsement for Daniel McIntyre away from Smith back in the spring, said he is not surprised by Taruc's entry into the race and said the presence of the new candidate will not change his campaign strategy. Bellamy served as campaign manager for John Orlikow during the 2009 River Heights-Fort Garry byelection.
Smith has actually competed against a Taruc before. In 2002, Resty Taruc finished third in Daniel McIntyre, after Smith and former broadcaster Maureen Pendergast.