Something for everyone on diverse mayoral ballot But only two of the 11 candidates have provided detailed plans to pay for their campaign pledges
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/10/2022 (223 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There is one thing Winnipeg voters can’t complain about in this civic election: a lack of choice. With 11 candidates running to replace outgoing Mayor Brian Bowman and 42 people battling it out in 13 wards, there is plenty to choose from on voting day.
The only exceptions are in two wards, where incumbent councillors Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River) and Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) have been acclaimed. There are three or more candidates in nine wards and two in the other four.
The mayoral race has been diverse.
Candidates Scott Gillingham and Shaun Loney have by far the most complete and coherent plans, including revenue and cost estimates to support their campaign pledges. They are the only ones who have provided detailed financial projections. Each is offering a very different approach to governing but they both have released well-thought-out platforms. Their pledges have been consistent, with neither candidate wavering on taxation, costs or how they would address top issues, such as crime and infrastructure.
For voters who like more sizzle than steak, mayoral candidate Kevin Klein might be the preferred option. The one-term councillor has been big on grandiose schemes to tackle crime and fix the city’s finances, but short on substance. After four years on council, Klein still has a weak grasp of how things operate at city hall. He has wavered on taxes, at first claiming he wouldn’t raise property taxes, then saying he would allow a 2.33 per cent increase in 2023. Klein has not costed out his platform, opting instead for vague platitudes about where the money would come from to fund his pledges. For those seeking a mayor who will “shake things up” at city hall, without a realistic plan to do much else, Klein may have some appeal.
For the nostalgic, there is mayoral candidate Glen Murray, who bolted mid-term after serving as mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004. After exhausting all his political options elsewhere and getting dismissed from his last place of employment, Murray is back in Winnipeg looking to get his old job back. The former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister is essentially unemployable, following allegations of sexual harassment and other egregious behaviour at the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based think tank where he worked as executive director in 2017-18. He needs a job and the mayor’s chair may be the only one he can find. Murray has not costed out his spending plans and has flip-flopped on taxes, at first claiming he wouldn’t raise them, then changing course and saying he would increase business taxes and bring in a parking-lot levy. For those willing to give Murray a paycheque and the group therapy he’s seeking, he’s an option.
For the “anti-woke,” conspiracy-minded voter, Jenny Motkaluk has plenty to offer. She will not succumb to “collective guilt” or embrace ideologies that “destroy Canada,” she vowed. Motkaluk is opposed to equity policies “that are discriminatory” and loves her country — unlike “the woke mob” that doesn’t, she said. If that isn’t far enough down the rabbit hole for some, Motkaluk also says she opposes “critical race theory” that “stokes division and hate.” If nothing else, she has provided a home for the angry and the aggrieved.
Rana Bokhari has advanced some sensible policy ideas, including supervised injection sites for illegal-drug users. Rick Shone’s emphasis on active transportation and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions are worthy contributions to the campaign. Robert-Falcon Ouellette’s focus on poverty and homelessness has been an important part of the race. However they haven’t laid out costed plans; they haven’t done the heavy lifting to be considered competitive contenders.
Idris Adelakun’s platform, meanwhile, is extremely thin. Chris Clacio’s ideas are more philosophical than practical. Don Woodstock seems mostly interested in landing himself in hot water.
Either way, voters have a full menu to choose from Wednesday, not only when it comes to campaign promises, but also regarding the character and integrity of candidates. This may be one of the most pivotal elections in recent Winnipeg history.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
Updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 7:18 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Markus Chambers' name