More excuses from someone not fit for the job Murray has history of unacceptable behaviour followed by apologies
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Accusations that mayoral candidate Glen Murray engaged in erratic and inappropriate behaviour while working at an Alberta think tank shouldn’t come as a great surprise to those who remember his objectionable behaviour and public outbursts during his time as Winnipeg mayor.
Who can forget when Murray berated a police officer after getting a traffic ticket, or when the former mayor verbally attacked the police chief at a fundraising ball in 2002, poking the former top cop in the chest? In 2001, an irate Murray lashed out at a city councillor in a parkade and threatened to “bury” him.
Murray has always had anger-management issues. The question for Winnipeg voters is: do they really want that kind of instability and narcissism back in the mayor’s office?
A CBC investigative report this week found Murray was forced out of his job as executive director of the Pembina Institute — an environmental interest group based in Calgary — where he worked for a year between 2017 and 2018. Murray was accused by staff of multiple transgressions, including sexual innuendo in the workplace, physically harassing a former employee, breaching confidentiality and refusing to accept briefings. Staff said he was frequently late for meetings or didn’t show up at all. It appears to explain why he lasted only 370 days in a position he once described as his “dream job.”
It’s consistent with behaviour he exhibited when he was mayor of Winnipeg between 1998 and 2004.
In 1999, Murray was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his partner Rick Neves when they were stopped by a Winnipeg police officer for making an illegal left turn off Portage Avenue. Murray berated the cop, calling the $59 fine a “nuisance ticket.” He later abused his position as mayor and called the officer’s supervisor to complain. He told the supervisor cops must have better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than to hand out traffic tickets. The police spokesman at the time, Const. Bob Johnson, reported that Murray “became incensed” and criticized the officer for issuing the ticket. Murray later apologized and said he was having a “bad car day.”
A Free Press editorial later remarked: “After that disgraceful spectacle, however, Mr. Murray could not come to his senses in the time that elapsed between his loss of self-control and the point later at which he phoned the abused officer’s superior to continue his tirade.”
In 2001, Murray lashed out at then-Mynarski councillor Harry Lazarenko in the city’s now-demolished parkade, located beside the city council building. Lazarenko said at the time Murray threatened him after the late councillor opposed the mayor’s proposed $1-per-bag garbage fee. Lazarenko said a tearful Murray claimed he had a “thick file” on the Mynarski rep that he could use against him. “I can bury you so deep that they’ll never dig you out,” Murray was quoted as saying. Murray later claimed he didn’t recall saying anything threatening to Lazarenko, but he still issued an apology. As usual, the former mayor played the victim card, saying in a letter he sent to media that, “I have experienced enough threats in my own life to understand the consequences of them.”
The outbursts continued. In 2002, while attending a May 11 Winnipeg Police Association fundraising ball, Murray berated then-police chief Jack Ewatski in front of Loren Schinkel, the WPA president at the time, as the two cops greeted incoming guests. Murray poked Ewatski in the chest in front of onlookers and complained loudly and belligerently the chief was mismanaging the police service. He later apologized for his behaviour.
Murray is unstable. He has been for a long time. When he lashes out or engages in inappropriate behaviour, he usually apologizes or offers some lame excuse. That’s precisely what he did Thursday when he held a late-afternoon news conference surrounded by supporters at his downtown campaign office. Murray claimed he was having personal issues while working at the Pembina Institute and that his enthusiasm for the job clouded his judgment. Whatever. What’s to say that doesn’t happen again while he’s mayor?
Winnipeg should think long and hard before giving this guy the key to the mayor’s office again. If he needs help, he should get it. But at the moment, he’s not fit to be the mayor.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
Updated on Thursday, September 29, 2022 7:48 PM CDT: Loren's name spelling