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Steeves fights accusation he broke rules

Campaign-kickoff spending may have violated bylaw

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Gord Steeves said he'll speak to the city clerk's office to ensure his mayoral campaign complies with the rules.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Gord Steeves said he'll speak to the city clerk's office to ensure his mayoral campaign complies with the rules. Photo Store

On the first day of his mayoral campaign, Gord Steeves promised to restore public trust in city hall.

On the second day, the former city councillor was forced to respond to allegations he broke campaign-finance rules at his launch party.

Steeves, who served as the councillor for St. Vital for 11 years, began his mayoral campaign Monday at Assiniboine Park's Family Centre. Addressing supporters, Steeves said he wanted to return a scandal-tainted city hall to "a time when we took responsibility for our actions."

'At best, it's an oversight. At worst, it's rule-breaking. People don't want any more rules broken at city hall'

--Coun. Paula Havixbeck, herself a possible mayoral candidate

On Tuesday, one of his potential rivals in 2014 accused him of hypocrisy and of violating city rules governing spending during elections.

Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is mulling a mayoral run herself, said she believes Steeves violated rules by renting a venue and spending money on T-shirts, balloons, posters and a website six months before the campaign-registration period starts.

"At best, it's an oversight. At worst, it's rule-breaking. People don't want any more rules broken at city hall," she said Tuesday, adding Steeves pledged to restore trust in government at his launch event. "You kick off a campaign on the premise of breaking rules? It's really deplorable."

'I'm not sure how we can have an announcement and expend no money in the process'

-- Gord Steeves, claiming uncertainty over having broken any rule

The City of Winnipeg Charter and Winnipeg's campaign-expenses bylaw say candidates may not raise or spend any money -- or receive any donations in kind -- until they register their campaigns, acting city clerk Carlos Gameiro said Tuesday. The registration period for 2014 mayoral candidates begins at the end of April.

Steeves, who works as a lawyer, said he is not certain he did anything wrong and certainly did not intend to break any rules. "I'm not sure how we can have an announcement and expend no money in the process," Steeves said. "If someone wanted to parse things, even the gas I used to go from my (downtown) office to Assiniboine Park would involve spending money."

The maximum fine for anyone convicted of spending money outside the campaign-registration period is $5,000, Gameiro said. The city clerk's office, which manages municipal elections, could not comment on Steeves' event before looking into it, he said.

Steeves said he's speaking to the clerks to ensure his campaign complies with city rules. He also pledged to post his expenses online during the election campaign.

The rules require expenses to be presented after the election.

Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 22, 2014. Steeves is the first candidate to declare he's running for mayor. Other potential candidates include Havixbeck, current mayor Sam Katz, St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, lawyer Brian Bowman and former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010, finishing second to Katz.

Katz has been mayor since 2004.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2013 A3

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Updated on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 6:53 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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