October 20, 2018

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Election extra: Taking the fly poop out of the pepper

Hello, election-forum followers and chilled-Prairie dwellers who are most grateful today to be living on a glacial floodplain rather than a hurricane-targeted subtropical coastline!

There's something particularly enlivening about the moments during an election campaign when a candidate's posturing includes language that spices up the usual colloquial conversation.

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit! Grant Nordman's bus bench was sure a burr under some folks' saddles. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit! Grant Nordman's bus bench was sure a burr under some folks' saddles. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Such was the case this week with Charleswood-Tuxedo council hopeful Grant Nordman, who got all fiercely folksy as he fended off questions about whether his campaign had violated election-spending guidelines by doling out cash before he'd actually registered his campaign.

At issue is election advertising on bus benches, which appeared on the afternoon of Aug. 31, within mere hours of his formal campaign registration.

The logistics and timelines involved in purchasing bus-bench advertising make it seem pretty clear the money was spent before the campaign was launched — which would be a clear violation of the City of Winnipeg Charter Act.

Nordman, a former councillor who represented the old St. Charles ward from 2006 to 2014, claimed he isn't up to speed on the intricacies of his campaign team's activities, and suggested the unnamed complainant — the city won't reveal the identity, and Nordman's three opponents in Charleswood-Tuxedo deny being the bus-bench whisteblower — is focused on trivialities rather than substantive civic issues.

Or, as the candidate put it, "I think someone is taking the fly poop out of the pepper."

Yes, we had to look it up, too. Usually expressed with a more direct scatological expletive rather than "poop," the phrase describes engaging in a near-impossible and pointless impossible task, along the same lines as the ol' needle in the haystack.

We appreciate the homespun wisdom, but respectfully disagree with Nordman's dismissive assessment. Election rules are in place for many good reasons, and the willingness of a candidate or campaign team to stretch, bend, mangle or break them could fairly be interpreted as a predictor of how business might be conducted at city hall should the council-seat aspirant be successful.

One might even be inclined to suggest electing an unapologetic rule-bender to civic office amounts to “putting the cat among the pigeons.”

— Brad Oswald
Free Press Perspectives editor


More from the Winnipeg Free Press

  • Mayoral candidates: some of their dogs won't hunt. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

    Mayoral candidates: some of their dogs won't hunt. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

    Job opening for fact-checker: If there is one quality that links all of the mayoral debates to date, it has been candidates’ almost ritual abuse of fact. Fact-checkers might help... but so might more educated candidates. See our editorial.
  • Bridging the divide: Mayoral campaigns are interesting in Winnipeg, especially when it comes to how the core area and Indigenous peoples are characterized, writes Niigaan Sinclair.
  • Buddy, can you spare a plan: Despite having a comfortable lead in the polls with less than three weeks till election day, Brian Bowman has taken to borrowing promises from his opponents. Aldo Santin reports.
  • Bridging the gap: Jenny Motkaluk pledged to make construction of a new Louise Bridge one of her top infrastructure priorities.
  • More roads, less taxes: Mayoral candidate Tim Diack says he'll increase spending on streets without raising property taxes. He plans to find an extra $3 million in efficiencies.

Elsewhere on the web...

  • A Bowman win might be as useful as a screen door on a submarine if he doesn't control council. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

    A Bowman win might be as useful as a screen door on a submarine if he doesn't control council. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

    Winning the battle but not the war: Winnipeg is a single city council seat away from depriving Brian Bowman of the votes he needs to continue exercising control over council, writes Bartley Kives for CBC.
  • Standing room only: Reeve and ward candidates in the RM of Cornwallis played to a full house at a forum Tuesday night. Growth and taxes were the major issues for candidates and residents, writes Chelsea Kemp in the Brandon Sun.
  • In their own words: Steinbach's Chamber of Commerce offers a series of video interviews with all of the candidates for mayor and most of the council candidates.
  • Ste. Anne forum: Voters in the RM of Ste. Anne got the chance to hear from the four reeve candidates Tuesday night at an elections forum at the Richer Community Centre. Jamie Roy reports extensively on the issues discussed in steinbachonline.com
  • Even more forums. Or is that fora?: The Chamber of Commerce in Dauphin is hosting two candidate forums -- one for the rural municipality and one for the city. Details in the Dauphin Herald.

Ward profile: St. Norbert-Seine River

  • St. Norbert-Seine River replaces the South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward, which was partially absorbed into the newly created Waverley West ward.

    The race is wide open since incumbent Janice Lukes was acclaimed in Waverley West.

    The five candidates vying for the seat are all political newcomers – Nancy Cooke, a former occupational therapist who is currently a managing partner in her husband’s dental practice, courier driver Chris Davis, public servant Markus Chambers, engineer Glenn Churchill and University of Manitoba political studies student Nikolas Joyal.

    All five candidates in the ward filled out our questionnaire. Find out more about them and what they'll do to serve Winnipeg in our ward profile.

Looking back: 1920

The civic election in 1920 was the first held under a proportional representation system. The city was consolidated into a single constituency electing 10 members. Voters indicated their preferences by numbering the candidates' names on the ballot paper 1,2,3, etc. The day after the vote -- Dec. 4 -- the Manitoba Free Press reported that "it is not possible to report at once the results of the aldermanic and school board candidates. These will take a few days to tabulate. Neither would it be possible to report this morning, most probably, the results of the mayoralty contest if it were not that only two candidates were in the contest." Edward Parnell won the mayoral race with 15,305 votes -- 945 more than his opponent, S.J. Farmer.

The Free Press Election Extra lets you know about everything that matters in 2018’s civic election. Receive it in your inbox three times a week until Election Day.

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