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Gillingham comes out swinging against Murray

Mayoral candidate blasts competitor’s ‘clumsy attempt to recapture past glory’

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Two days before Winnipeggers head to the polls, mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham came out swinging against Glen Murray, insisting his competitor would bring chaos and uncertainty to city hall.

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Two days before Winnipeggers head to the polls, mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham came out swinging against Glen Murray, insisting his competitor would bring chaos and uncertainty to city hall.

“I believe that only one of two people is going to be Winnipeg’s next mayor, me or Glen Murray,” Gillingham said Monday. “And I think Winnipeggers have a very clear choice, a very stark contrast between my fully costed, fully budgeted plan and Mr. Murray’s clumsy attempt to recapture his past glory.”

Murray, who has been deemed the campaign’s frontrunner in opinion polls, released key details about his tax plan over the past week. Last week, he promised to freeze property taxes during a televised CBC debate, during which candidates held a paddle to display “Yes” or “No” answers to specific statements. While responding to the sentence “I will raise property taxes,” Murray held up the “no” side, briefly spun his paddle to “yes”, and then settled on “no.”

After the debate, he clarified the response by telling reporters, “We will not increase taxes.”

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham came out swinging against Glen Murray, insisting his competitor would bring chaos and uncertainty to city hall.

Two days later, Murray posted a lengthy document on his website that proposed a combined $32.2 million worth of tax hikes and fees for 2023. These included a 25-cent per stall commercial parking lot fee, a 10 per cent tax on short-term rental units (such as Airbnb listings), and a one percentage point hike to the business tax.

Gillingham criticized Murray over how those announcements were rolled out.

“Mr. Murray appeared uncertain of his own financial plans. You saw him spinning his paddle round and round at the CBC debate, trying to figure out how he would answer a question of whether he would increase property taxes,” he said.

Gillingham also accused Murray of appearing to make “decisions up on the fly” and challenged him to share cost estimates for his promises before the civic election on Wednesday.

And he portrayed Murray’s plan to seek one percentage point of provincial sales tax revenue from the Manitoba government as picking a fight, noting the province has previously refused to share that cash.

Gillingham said his own plan, which would raise property taxes by 3.5 per cent in each of the next four years and impose a $1.50-per-foot frontage fee increase in 2023, is the credible option.

Mayoral contender Jenny Motkaluk also took aim at Murray, labelling his plan a “fake tax freeze.”

“A tax is a tax. When I said I wasn’t going to increase (property) taxes on Winnipeggers, I meant I wasn’t going to increase any taxes on Winnipeggers,” said Motkaluk.

Shaun Loney took aim at both Murray and Gillingham, accusing them of relying on outdated ideas.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Shaun Loney took aim at both Murray and Gillingham, accusing them of relying on outdated ideas.

In a press release, Loney said Gillingham’s goals to widen Kenaston Boulevard and expand Chief Peguis Trail unrealistically depend on senior government funding. He accused Murray of recycling “old ideas,” such as seeking PST revenue.

However, Murray said it’s misleading for any other mayoral candidate to claim they have released a fully costed platform, as Loney and Gillingham have. Murray stressed that’s because he alone has a proposal to tackle the city’s infrastructure deficit, which the next mayor will need to address.

Murray said his PST pledge would do just that, securing more than $200 million per year in new revenue for the city initially, with the amount growing in the future.

“The PST agreement, I think, (with a provincial election expected in 2023), is very realistic because we, in the City of Winnipeg, represent a large majority of the population (and voters),” he said.

Murray argued it’s Gillingham who lacks a realistic plan, since his major road projects would require senior government funds. He said Winnipeggers also can’t afford his competitor’s tax hike.

“His entire platform is based on massive increases in residential property taxes at a time when we’re at eight per cent inflation,” said Murray.

By contrast, the fee hikes he proposed Friday would spread the tax burden, said Murray.

“We need to diversify the revenue and share and distribute the cost of city government more fairly,” said Murray.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayoral candidate Glen Murray argued it’s Gillingham who lacks a realistic plan, since his major road projects would require senior government funds.

Two other mayoral candidates shared new platform pledges.

Don Woodstock promised to ensure workplace grievances from municipal employees are settled within 365 days. Woodstock said the city and union would split the cost to hire a third-party mediator to handle that work.

“The ethnicity of the mediator must be the same as the griever and agreed to by all three parties,” he said in a news release.

Woodstock said he’d also create a new whistleblower telephone line that reports directly to the mayor’s office.

Mayoral hopeful Rana Bokhari would require all public service reports on city projects to explain the impact each has on the city’s most vulnerable residents, including seniors, women, refugees, the Indigenous community, those with disabilities, LGBTTQ+ residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Bokhari said city reports tend to explain their impact on the city’s budget but not on people themselves.

Mayoral contender Kevin Klein will host an online roundtable discussion for undecided voters. The live Facebook event will take place 7 p.m. Tuesday at https://www.facebook.com/KevinKleinwpg

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

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.

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