Endorsements build up mayoral candidates’ profiles
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/10/2022 (236 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With just over a week until election day, high-profile endorsements are rolling in for Winnipeg’s top mayoral candidates in what political observers say is another way to sway undecided voters.
On Monday, Scott Gillingham secured one of the biggest public endorsements of the campaign, with former federal Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy backing him in the Oct. 26 municipal vote.
Axworthy joins the likes of philanthropist Gail Asper, former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis and one-time Peak of the Market chief executive officer Larry McIntosh, who’ve thrown their support behind a candidate.
“I’m very grateful (for Axworthy’s support),” said Gillingham, city councillor for St. James. “He is highly respected across all political lines, and has decades of history of building Winnipeg and our nation.”
Axworthy, the former president and vice-chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, declined to comment.
In a letter provided by Gillingham’s campaign, Axworthy wrote he is impressed by the candidate’s platform, including pledges on affordable housing, inner-city renewal and support for refugees and newcomers.
“I also applaud your forthrightness in putting forward a tax plan to cover the increased expenditures. In all a comprehensive strategy,” wrote Axworthy, who is chairman of the World Refugee & Migration Council.
Some of the 11 mayoral candidates list endorsements on their websites.
Couns. Jeff Browaty, Markus Chambers and Janice Lukes are among the five people named on Gillingham’s website.
Gillingham said he’ll announce more endorsements this week.
For him, endorsements from people with a variety of political and other backgrounds are important because “municipal politics is the politics of collaboration.”
“We have to work across political lines and across political ideologies to make the best decision for our city,” said Gillingham.
Murray, who did not respond to an interview request, has endorsements from 33 people on his website.
Former Winnipeg chief administrative officer Annitta Stenning and Paul Moist, former national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, are among his latest supporters to go public.
In a letter to the editor published in Saturday’s Free Press, the pair came to Murray’s defence, after he denied allegations of sexual harassment and poor management during his time as executive director of the Pembina Institute, a Calgary-based clean-energy think tank, in 2017-18.
Murray is also backed by Asper, former talk show host Charles Adler, Winnipeg Labour Council and United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg.
In an attempt to sway voters, Murray tweeted a photo Sunday of himself with Gary Doer and Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman.
Neither Doer nor Chipman has publicly endorsed a candidate.
Murray was Winnipeg’s mayor and Doer was Manitoba’s premier during the planning and construction phases of the downtown arena now called Canada Life Centre.
The photo was taken at a Business Council of Manitoba event Oct. 13, Doer said.
“It was a social picture at a social event, not a political picture,” said Doer, adding he stays out of politics and doesn’t endorse candidates, given his involvement on the boards of local companies.
“It was a social picture at a social event, not a political picture.”–Gary Doer
Listing nine supporters, including McIntosh and city police officer Rob Carver, on his website, mayoral candidate Kevin Klein, councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, said he’s not pursuing endorsements.
He suggested endorsements in past elections have led to promises or favours down the road.
“For years, we’ve listened to endorsements, and these endorsements have got us to where we are today,” he said. “I’m not taking Winnipeggers down that path.”
Klein doesn’t believe his approach will be a detriment to his campaign.
“It would clearly show I’m the only fiscal conservative running,” he said. “The rest of them are playing in different lanes, just trying to get somebody to help them get elected.”
Klein said he is also backed by former Tory MP Dorothy Dobbie.
She endorsed Murray in 2004, when he resigned as mayor and made an unsuccessful bid to become the Liberal MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia.
The 17 endorsements on candidate Shaun Loney’s website reflect a range of political affiliations and backgrounds.
“I think it just shows the solutions going forward need to be really an approach to people values, rather than their ideologies,” said Loney. “My endorsements are from people really involved in the community. I’m not hung up on ideology. I’m focused on solutions.”
His supporters include Wasylycia-Leis, former provincial Tory cabinet minister David Newman and Paul Jordan, who retired in 2021 as the CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership.
Municipal elections don’t have a political party system, making endorsements even more important, said Loney. “For me, the endorsements replace the brand that comes with party politics.”
The other candidates running for mayor are Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Jenny Motkaluk, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rick Shone and Don Woodstock.
Christopher Adams, an adjunct professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said endorsements can lend credibility to a candidate or help voters decide who to support.
“Endorsements have been important across the board for anybody who wants to be seen as part of a front-running campaign,” he said.
Endorsements make a difference in the outcome of an election, Adams said.
“Those who are attentive to the election will have a better sense of what the candidates represent in terms of the platforms and policies,” he said.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.