Murray sets sights on return to mayor’s office Two decades after early exit, mayoral candidate says he’s more qualified than ever

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray hopes to win his old job back this fall.

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Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray hopes to win his old job back this fall.

Murray registered for the 2022 mayoral race on Wednesday, 18 years after he resigned from the same job to run for the federal Liberals.

“The city has some enormous challenges. They are on the scale of the challenges when I was elected mayor the first time and had a lot less experience … I’m way more qualified to do this job (than) when I was very young and did it the first time,” he told media.

Murray entry makes good mayoral race better

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former mayor Glen Murray arrives at city hall on Wednesday afternoon to submit his registration papers to enter the 2022 mayoral race.

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Now that former mayor Glen Murray has officially entered the 2022 Winnipeg race — a madcap affair featuring 11 registered candidates — we can be sure of only one thing.

It’s not going to be dull.

The mercurial Murray, who has spent the last few years working in Winnipeg as a consultant, has a wealth of political experience. Under the category of “former,” he has been mayor of Winnipeg (1998-2004), a federal Liberal candidate, Ontario member of provincial parliament, Ontario cabinet minister, Ontario Liberal leadership candidate and federal Green party leadership candidate.

Retracing his steps to Winnipeg city hall may seem like an odd choice at this stage in his career. But if his performance at a casual campaign launch Wednesday in the city hall courtyard is any indication, he does not lack ideas or passion.

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Election day, Oct. 26, is also Murray’s 65th birthday.

The experienced politician noted the outward expansion of the city, which he declined to label “urban sprawl,” has strained Winnipeg’s ability to maintain its infrastructure and provide services, hinting that issue will be tackled in his upcoming platform.

“While our city is expanding out, we keep on adding and adding to it … We have so overstretched ourselves right now that we really have to get back to not pushing out, we have to build up and we really have to really start seriously thinking about a priority on restoring our existing neighbourhoods and completing our newer suburban neighbourhoods,” said Murray.

After holding the top council job from 1998 to 2004, Murray cut short his second four-year term as mayor to embark on an unsuccessful run as a Liberal candidate in the 2004 federal election. He was later elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 2010, holding a few ministerial portfolios before he resigned in 2017. In 2020, he finished fourth in the leadership race to head the federal Green party.

Murray said his varied political experience and network among key community groups in Winnipeg would help him be effective as the city’s next mayor.

When asked if he would commit to serving a full term of office if he’s elected in 2022, Murray said he expects to compete to lead council for two full terms.

“I think it takes eight years to do what I’m thinking we’d do,” he said.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Glen Murray has added his name to an already crowded field of 10 other mayoral candidates after registering his campaign on Wednesday.

The candidate said he left to pursue federal politics in 2004 with a goal to ensure a greater share of gas tax dollars reached cities, a critical opportunity for Winnipeg and other cities that he couldn’t pass up.

Murray also told the Free Press he believes the controversial decision to replace this year’s Canada Day festivities with the “It’s a New Day at The Forks” event on July 1 is backed by good intentions.

“It’s really clear that The Forks is trying to do something out of respect at a national historic site, at a place where there are some pretty horrific memories for people and they’re trying to create a respectful safe place … The mayor should not be, in my mind, second-guessing or micro-managing those kinds of things,” he said.

Murray said how Canada Day is marked in future years warrants much more discussion.

“We’re discovering more graves (linked to residential schools) and more horror stories and we’re having trouble processing it. (And) Canada Day is a part of people’s culture and history,” he said.

“I really think this does change the mayoral campaign … I think Glen Murray will clearly be seen as the front-runner or one of the front-runners on the progressive side of the ballot.” – Christopher Adams

One political expert said Murray should have a significant impact on the mayoral race, especially among candidates deemed “left-of-centre.”

“I really think this does change the mayoral campaign … I think Glen Murray will clearly be seen as the front-runner or one of the front-runners on the progressive side of the ballot,” said Christopher Adams, a political scientist at the University of Manitoba.

Adams said Murray will enjoy the name recognition of an incumbent, even though he last served as Winnipeg’s mayor almost two decades ago, and appears quite motivated to get back into political life.

“He’s a guy who’s clearly hungering for the limelight, who wants to find a place in politics and feels that coming back to Winnipeg to run for mayor is a place that he feels comfortable doing (that),” said Adams.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Murray says his varied political experience and network among key community groups in Winnipeg would help him be effective as the city’s next mayor.

Murray is the 11th person to register in the mayoral race. Idris Adelakun, Chris Clacio, Rana Bokhari, Scott Gillingham, Shaun Loney, Jenny Motkaluk, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rick Shone, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock have also registered to run, while Mayor Brian Bowman is not seeking re-election.

Shone responded to Murray’s announcement with a critical press release entitled: “Our future is not in the rearview mirror!”

“When Glen Murray, who was first elected as mayor in 1998, abandoned Winnipeggers in 2004 for Toronto, he left the job unfinished … Now is not the time to look back,” the release said.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Touting the experience that he has gathered over the years, Glen Murray suggested on Wednesday that he's even better positioned to succeed as mayor today.
Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

History

Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 3:19 PM CDT: Write-through

Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 3:41 PM CDT: Photos added.

Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 6:03 PM CDT: Adds comments from Murray, political experts.

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