The Uniter’s Voter Guide

A last minute read before you hit the ballot box

 Due to space restrictions, The Uniter has only included the mayoral candidates and councillor candidates running in the core areas of the city.

 

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Brian Bowman

Privacy lawyer Brian Bowman has seen solid growth in the home stretch of the mayoral race.

On the major issues of this election, he appears to be both a man of action and a man of the people. Bowman is such a strong supporter of bus rapid transit (BRT), he wants to complete the whole thing at once, and has floated a few strategies to help make it possible. He has also proposed the idea of replacing property taxes in the city with a municipal sales tax, which would ultimately tax everyone who spends money in Winnipeg.

The issue critics raise is that Bowman may not be able to accomplish much of what he promises. He plans to cover the potentially billions of dollars needed for BRT by finding efficiencies at City Hall and in non-emergency City services. He also does not have the power, even with the support of City Council, to change the tax system. 

Bowman’s platform also includes the popular topics of infrastructure, open government and downtown development, even proposing an off-leash dog park downtown. He did not respond to a request for a statement about his campaign.

Michel Fillion

Michel Fillion’s scattered, lackluster and often confusing campaign may best be summarized by an example from the only televised mayoral debate on Oct 9. Fillion used all 90 seconds of his opening statement to pledge that as mayor, he would test Winnipeg’s wartime emergency siren system to see if it still works. He pledged to create an emergency evacuation plan in case he got a call from Ottawa saying the entire city should be evacuated within two hours.

Fillion said the first priority in his platform is to fix Winnipeg’s roads, but has rounded out much of his platform with positions and proposals on obscure issues, including support for capital punishment and the opening of brothels. He is the only mayoral candidate without a campaign website, though he is active on YouTube. 

Fillion did not respond to a request for a statement about his campaign.

Paula Havixbeck

Paula Havixbeck has run a quiet, unassuming campaign that has not properly reflected the name recognition she should command. As a city councillor she should have garnered just as much attention as fellow candidate Gord Steeves, yet she has sunk nearly to the bottom of the list in most poll results.

Havixbeck supports the completion of BRT, elimination of photo radar and additional mental health strategies
and resources.

In a statement to Uniter readers, she says: “Vote for me, because I have the experience at City Hall to know how to make the substantive change we need.”

Robert-Falcon Ouellette

Robert-Falcon Ouellette entered the mayoral race a relative unknown, but through a grassroots movement and some popular policy announcements, has become a force to contend with. While he has not gained enough support to pose a real threat to Judy Wasylycia-Leis on election day, Ouellette has made waves among candidates with sharp and well-founded criticism of their platforms and some innovative ideas.

Ouellette brought forward a land value tax to encourage downtown development by taxing surface parking lots like four-storey buildings. He is also an opponent of BRT, and has proposed a modified metrobus system with light rail transit (LRT) in the future, following the relocation of rail lines outside the city. Ouellette has been criticized for a lack of research and pricing on the rail plan, but he insists it could be cheaper than the BRT alternative.

In a statement to Uniter readers, Ouellette says: “Vote for me, because I will be a mayor for everyone, who will put the needs of Winnipeggers first, with a plan to deliver fair taxes, better infrastructure and transit for everyone - not just one part of the city.”

David Sanders

If Winnipeg’s next mayor was chosen based on resume alone, David Sanders would be a sure thing. With experience and credentials too extensive to print and a long history of taking local government to task, Sanders has the credibility to back up both his platform and criticism of opponents.

What he appears to lack is a combination of charisma and campaign support. Sanders had a late start and is running on a low budget campaign with nothing but experience and a sharp mind as selling points.  Despite a lack of flash and flair, it’s not unattractive; his policy reflects the realistic approach of someone familiar with yet not spoiled by the business.

The main talking point of Sanders’s campaign has been “overhauling” City Hall. He stands for accountability and integrity even more staunchly than many of his opponents. Sanders is also against BRT, having demonstrated in an early media release that it likely cannot be completed as planned due to requirements from the province that have not been met. He has proposed a LRT system as an alternative. 

In a statement to Uniter readers, Sanders says: “Vote for me, because I am the only candidate willing and able to overhaul City Hall and restore professional, competent, and ethical decision-making.”

Gord Steeves

Former city councillor Gord Steeves is possibly the most divisive character in the mayoral race. He has positioned himself as a far-right candidate by promising to freeze property taxes and criticizing fellow candidates for their willingness to spend money.

Steeves has pledged to cancel all aspects of rapid transit and proposed no alternatives. He has proposed a video surveillance system downtown, use of drones, a ban on panhandling and increased police presence. Steeves has also pledged a hiring freeze and spending cap on most City departments.

In a statement to Uniter readers, Steeves says: “Vote for me, because I will fix Winnipeg’s crumbling roads while freezing property taxes. I will also create a safer downtown with more restaurants and housing for students.”

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

A former opposition MLA with the provincial NDP, Judy Wasylycia-Leis has consistently shown the strongest support in polls. She looks to be the favourite for the mayoral seat, despite having relatively modest promises and poor explanations for how she plans to deliver on them.

Judy - who brands her campaign with her first name - pledges to complete BRT according to the most recent plans. However, she has yet to provide a concrete explanation as to where the funding will come from. Judy’s funding explanations have included variations of the phrase “that’s something we’ll have to deal with.”

Her platform includes an increase to property taxes, a business tax freeze, improvements to City services, roads and infrastructure, and an assortment of initiatives to provide opportunities for young people.

In a statement to Uniter readers, Judy says: “I have the experience and a practical plan to work together to deal with issues such as backroom deals and cost overruns that have plagued City Hall.”

 

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Daniel McIntyre

Incumbent Harvey Smith has represented Daniel McIntyre since coming out of political retirement in 1998, and served earlier as MLA for the Ellice riding with the NDP. Smith has been a strong voice on council for the low-income and working class and calling for greater accountability. A motion from Smith in 2012 stopped a 20-cent hike in transit fare, and another brought about a lengthy discussion on urban chicken farming.

Keith Bellamy is chairman of the Manitoba Arts Council, and placed a close third in the last civic election. Bellamy aims to improve local infrastructure, City services and accountability at City Hall, and has proposed a plan to address crime and safety and improve cross-cultural communication.

Insurance agent John Cardoso has strong ties to the NDP but cut ties ahead of the 2010 civic election. He lists accountability and transparency, infrastructure, safety and environmental issues as priorities, and encourages development on Ellice and Sargent Avenues. 

Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Dave Donaldson touts his West End upbringing and political independence in his literature. Donaldson is campaigning on a platform of safer streets, infrastructure improvements, greater transparency at City Hall and more support for community clubs and programming.

Cindy Gilroy, the constituency assistant to NDP cabinet minister Kevin Chief, narrowly lost to Harvey Smith in the 2010 civic election. Gilroy has arguably the most extensive and comprehensive platform of candidates in her ward, with policies addressing infrastructure, downtown development, affordable housing and accountability at City Hall.

Barber Shop owner Godwin Smith has worked with the Residential Tenancies Commission and is a founding member of the Spence Neighbourhood Association. His platform addresses housing initiatives, community resource centres, and English as an Additional Language programming.

 

Fort Rouge - East Fort Garry

Incumbent Jenny Gerbasi is widely considered safe in holding on to her seat. She supports transparency at City Hall, having been a driving force behind the recent real estate audit. Gerbasi also supports rapid transit, the U-Pass and improved infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

Professional musician Shane Nestruck has largely based his platform on strong support for mayoral candidates Robert-Falcon Ouellette and David Sanders. He opposes current plans for rapid transit and pledges greater integrity at City Hall.

Norm Miller has no campaign website or published platform, but has said he’ll work toward improving infrastructure and City services, and creating an off-leash dog park in the ward.

 

Mynarski

Incumbent Ross Eadie, often recognized by his sunglasses as the blind city councillor, has been one of the most vocal on council over the past four years. His re-election platform focuses on streets and infrastructure, crime reduction, traffic safety, and transparency accountability at City Hall. 

Dave Capar has been one of the least-visible council candidates in the race, with no campaign website, social media presence or local media coverage. He’s also the lone newcomer to the race in Mynarski.

Lawyer and former City of Winnipeg employee Greg Littlejohn is running on the popular platform of greater integrity at City Hall and improvements to infrastructure. He has been one of the few candidates to disclose all donors to their campaigns, and has also expressed support for expanded roles of police cadets and police foot and bicycle patrols.

Construction surveyor Trevor Mueller is Ross Eadie’s only opponent who has a campaign website. He pledges an accountable, transparent and collaborative local government, and improved safety in communities and on public transit. Mueller has also proposed 24-hour drop-in centres in all wards.

 

Point Douglas

Incumbent Mike Pagtakhan is looking for a fourth-straight term as councillor. He wants to see the Arlington Bridge rebuilt and tends to lean left on most issues. Recently Pagtakhan was behind the motion to rename the Redwood Bridge after Harry Lazarenko and the makeover of Dufferin Park.

Rebecca Chartrand entered the race after participating in the Drag The Red movement, searching the Red River for missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Her platform, while comprehensive, focuses heavily on Indigenous and social issues. Chartrand is pushing for improved safety, reduced crime, affordable housing and responsible taxation.

Anthony Ramos has served two terms as a trustee with the Winnipeg School Division, and recently presented the motion which banned e-cigarettes from school division property. He is running on a catchy platform he calls “Active, Accessible and Accountable,” which focuses largely on community engagement.

Former firefighter and ambulance attendant Anne Thompson has mentioned infrastructure and safety for pedestrians and cyclists as a priority. She has also touted the fact she does not shop at American-owned stores like Walmart and Target, as she is opposed to “the Military-Industrial Complex” and Guantanamo Bay.

Dale White is quick to cite ambiguous senior management experience and budgeting skills as major qualifications. He claims to be running on a “City platform” rather than focusing on his ward, and has based the majority of his campaign on the issue of infrastructure. 

 

River Heights - Fort Garry

In a two-person race, incumbent John Orlikow and his challenger, former City entomologist Taz Stuart, appear to hold largely overlapping platforms. Both candidates have proposed widening Kenaston Blvd. and looking at some form of overpass or underpass on Waverly St., along with several other improvements to streets and traffic management. The two seem to share priorities on other infrastructure improvements and protecting green space as well.

Where the candidates diverge is on transit and development. Orlikow says he opposes the Southwest Transitway running through the Parker lands, while Stuart proposes the entire rapid transit plan be completed at once.

 

St. Boniface

Communications consultant and CEO of the Francophone Chamber of Commerce Matt Allard appears to be the favourite to replace outgoing councillor Dan Vandal, who has been nominated for the Liberals ahead of next year’s federal election. Allard prioritizes roads and infrastructure, accountability, and local issues including public spaces, traffic and transit improvements.

Ryan Davies claims to be the most independent candidate, without ties to any political party or interest group. Davies wants to halt work on rapid transit and stop all non-infrastructure development in the city, and says he would consider light rail transit in the future. He has also proposed tax restructuring, stopping urban sprawl and an overhaul of photo radar.

Self-described “top realtor” Brad Gross cites having previously lived in Calgary and Edmonton as credentials toward his candidacy, and ran unsuccessfully for Winnipeg mayor in the last civic election. He hasn’t said much in the way of platform, aside from a few questionably written responses in online questionnaires.

Long-time school teacher Paul Najda also boasts political independence, and has criticized Matt Allard for potential ties to special interest and political groups. He does not have a campaign website or platform published online.

Published in Volume 69, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 15, 2014)

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