In spite of Calgary turning significantly to the left with the election of its new mayor and Toronto moving to the far right with the election of its new mayor, Winnipeg maintained the status quo Wednesday night. Change simply was not in the air, in spite of an increase in voter turnout from 36 to 48 per cent.
The ideological outlook of city council remains the same as before -- one loss for the left liberal coalition in Elmwood and one gain in the Mynarski ward. Why? Is it because the left liberals are simply unable to learn the lesson that you can't run two left-wing candidates against one right-of-centre candidate and expect to win?
The inability of the Winnipeg Citizens' Coalition and the NDP to ensure that only one left-wing candidate runs in each of the wards enables city hall to continue to run like a business. Thus, the significant social issues such as poverty and violence will not be adequately addressed, once again, in the next four years.
Hope springs eternal
Whew! We sure dodged a bullet Wednesday when Sam Katz was elected to a third term as mayor. I am so glad there were no party politics involved in his campaign. He certainly seemed disappointed to hear that Thomas Steen would be replacing Lillian Thomas, ensuring that there was a balance of political views on council.
I wonder what the executive policy committee will look like? Most likely it will be a representation of the councillors elected by the citizens of Winnipeg and not a congregation of people holding the same views as Sam Katz.
There is hope that one of them may actually have a vision for the city, though, and maybe a little pull. One can only hope.
With a 10-per-cent voter increase from 2006, some Winnipeggers (mainly the Katz supporters) would be content with the level of interest this election has incurred. I was not.
I found many of my fellow 20-somethings taking an aloof approach to the civic election, either not voting at all or using Twitter to post pictures of themselves writing in a name that wasn't on the ballot as choice for mayor.
I challenge my fellow demographic members to learn something not for a university class or to post on your blog, but because it's relevant to our city. As a wise instructor once said, "Silence implies consent."
I was pleased to find out that the voter turnout had increased significantly from the last election. Not voting implies that you are content with the status quo.
I am disappointed, however, at how resistant this city seems to be to change. After all the time and money invested in this election, there are only four new faces at city hall. Once in a while you just need to shake things up, and unfortunately that did not happen on Wednesday night.
I just hope the voters who did cast their ballot based their decision on the promises that were made during the campaign, and not on the familiarity of the names.
There was never clearer evidence of the ethical depravity and cynical machinations inside the NDP than its rejection of longtime councillor and staunch NDPer Harvey Smith as NDP candidate in the Daniel McIntyre ward.
That rejection of Smith was caused by his insistence upon thinking for himself and acting in the interests of his constituents and his city rather than kowtowing to the central-office brain-trust. As if further evidence of this NDP megalomania were needed, Andrew Swan openly campaigned with Keith Bellamy, and Becky Barrett assured the Free Press that "the municipal wing of the party would make a decision on what to do about Anthony Ramos," another member who thinks for himself and his constituents.
As an unsuccessful candidate in Fort Rouge, I find Smith's courageous win was not only great for the people of Daniel McIntyre but also serves as a beacon of hope that in our city the voters can defeat the partisan political power-mongers destroying democracy in our province.
The election's over, and now what? I, for one, am not excited to see what transpires in coming years. I don't expect anything to change, or improve, through the action of councillors or the mayor. The most I hope for is lateral movement.
I would rather listen to the spontaneously spouted grievances of residents who live in the areas discussed in platforms than the prepared speeches of candidates. Winnipeg relies on Winnipeggers; it is the citizens and not councillors who make this fine city.
Our city is inhabited by innumerable unsung heroes. I would like to see them receive the recognition dotingly distributed to elected officials.
Perhaps I'm incorrect, perhaps I'm uninformed, perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised. To the victors, I would say celebrate your wins, certainly, but please also earn them.
If defeated mayoralty candidate and peripatetic "progressive" politician Judy Wasylycia-Leis is looking for yet another pampered public perch, she should look no further than the province next door.
Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray's seat in the Ontario legislature might become available as early as next year if voters there determine that the bigotry he accused Toronto mayor-elect Rob Ford, provincial Tory leader Tim Hudak and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of harbouring was really his own.
For some blithe reason, Ontarians hold out a soft spot in their welcoming hearts to former Winnipeggers. And, as she's told us, having not yet unpacked from her federal stint in Ottawa, she's obviously remained open to new legislative opportunities.
MARK S. RASH
Fine the indolent
Less than 50 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot in this civic election. Shame on anyone who didn't.
Australia has it right. Anyone too indolent to vote should be fined. So we are left for another term with a man so arrogant he said Thursday morning on CBC Radio that his massive majority of -- wait for it -- five per cent means that he can carry on with his buddy politicking and backroom deals.
More than 90,000 Winnipeggers did not vote for this man or believe his next round of soon-to-be-broken promises (I don't know about you, but my taxes have gone from $1,400 to $2,100 during his six years of his "tax-freeze" and still there are craters in my street), but we obviously don't count. The sheer insolence of the man is mind-boggling.
Re: Ex-Jet scores seat on council (Oct. 28). I am baffled by Thomas Steen's win in the Elmwood-East Kildonan ward. Though I predicted that the NDP vote would be split between Shaneen Robinson and Rod Giesbrecht, I thought one of them would still have the numbers to be victorious.
Meeting all the candidates at their Oct. 20 forum, I didn't feel that Steen was as prepared as his competition. He read all his speeches off his paper and, when asked a yes-or-no question, he responded with "yo."
Listening to Steen talk, I got the impression that he doesn't know what he wants to do and doesn't have a lot of strong ideas about how he's going to improve the community.
I am disappointed in the choice this community made. I was given the impression at the forum that they were ready for a big change, and improvement. I feel like this ward is back in high school, voting for Steen because of his popularity, and not his qualifications.
Your article on Thomas Steen's win in Elmwood-East Kildonan is adequate but fails to capture the strangeness of his victory.
I was at Steen's headquarters election night to cover his surprise win. It was odd. The mood of the room shifted between celebration and worry throughout the evening. When the final results came in, however, it was tears of joy from the former Winnipeg Jet. Hearing chants of "Thomas, Thomas, Thomas!" in the hockey arena is one thing, but in a campaign office it was a little surreal.
Steen says his campaign felt like the NHL playoffs -- two months of hard work and pressure trying to beat out your rivals. But who thought he'd win the Stanley Cup?
I am writing from Australia, having left Canada early in October after having submitted requests mid-September for postal ballots in the civic election be sent to me and my wife here.
Eventually they came -- both too late for us to get the votes back to Winnipeg. It took city hall one month to mail the documents, and they arrived one week before the election (for me) and the day of the election (for my wife, Cathi).
The time for sending the ballots by airmail to Canada is 7-10 days. Cathi's ballot was further delayed because of a failure at city hall to attach correct postage. Canada Post had returned the materials to sender, who then waited yet another 10 days to put them back in the mail.
Moral of this story: If you are a Canadian citizen wishing to fulfil your civic duty by casting a postal vote in a Winnipeg municipal election from outside of North America, don't assume you will be able to.
Headlines in the Free Press for the next four years:
Winnipeg the crime capital of Canada again; Winnipeg roads rated the worst in Canada; Winnipeggers fed up with long commutes; Rapid transit corridor that cost millions to build used for walkway; All city services sold to private businesses; User fees announced for city services that mayor sold to private businesses; Roadways sold to private businesses and toll fees introduced on bridges.
Congratulations, Winnipeg. You asked for it and now we have it. Another four years with Sam Katz.
Blowin' in the wind
If there's one thing to be happy about, it's that we can finally start cleaning up the awful election signs that have littered the city. These tacky signs have haunted my commute for weeks now, only encouraging me to vote so I can be rid of them.
As I was walking to vote on Wednesday night, a Rod Giesbrecht sign caught in the wind nearly took off my head. I'll never look at his Bill Cosby sweater the same way again. The votes are in; go clean up your trash.