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Steeves vs. Oswald? Let’s get it on

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It’s been almost a month since the provincial Tories spring dinner, but the chatter continues.

It has to do with whether St. Vital city councillor Gord Steeves will run as a Progressive Conservative candidate against NDP Health Minister Theresa Oswald in Seine River in the Oct. 4 election.

The reason for all this chatter is this video that was played at the dinner, used to introduce leader Hugh McFadyen before his speech.

In response, Steeves has said he’s happy being a humble city councillor, and at this stage of his political career, has no ambition to leave city hall.

"Some day, sooner or later, I will probably try to move on to something else," Steeves said in a recent email.

I wonder. Is sooner now?

For the hell of it, I Googled his name and came up with this:

Is this the same Gord Steeves who argued unsuccessfully earlier this year that city councillors should not have to resign their council seat to run as a candidate in a provincial election? Steeves said they should only resign if they are elected.

Oswald says the rumour Steeves is running against her is about as old as some of my socks.

"Until such a move is made, it doesn’t make any never-mind to me," Oswald says. "Whoever decides to run for whichever party, I will view as a formidable candidate. I will just work very hard."

What baffles me is if Steeves is actually thinking of running, why is he taking his own sweet time to announce his candidacy?

What’s the advantage? A big splash?

Or is he waffling?

Other Tory candidates in south Winnipeg have been busting their butts for months knocking on doors and getting their names out in advance of Oct. 4.

Rochelle Squires, a former journalist and about-to-resign Tory staffer, has worn out a couple of pairs of shoes campaigning in Riel. Then there’s Karen Velthuys in St. Norbert, Judy Eastman in Southdale and Ian Rabb in Fort Garry-Riverview. (For a full list, go to the PC website).

So what’s Steeves waiting for?

Maybe it’s because Oswald is no pushover. In 2007, her margin over the PC candidate was 2,497 votes.

Or maybe Steeves is thinking of running in nearby St. Vital? That’s where NDP Education Minister Nancy Allan is running. Maybe he and the Tories think she’s more ripe for picking. (In, 2007, her margin over of the PCs was 2,753 votes.)

Whatever’s going on in the Tory situation room, if Steeves and other big-name candidates are going to make plays against seasoned NDP cabinet ministers they’d better do it now.

Because if McFadyen really has his eye on the premier’s chair, he needs committed candidates in south Winnipeg.

And the longer big names like Steeves and others wait, the less that’s going to happen.

Oswald, Allan and Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby running in Southdale, will see to that.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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