Trivialized as a “fringe candidate” at the outset of the mayoral race, Robert-Falcon Ouellette is proving to be anything but an outsider when it comes to community.
When the husband and father of five isn’t teaching at the University of Manitoba, he can be found hosting a radio program on 101.5 UMFM, or at HMCS Chippawa where he and wife Catherine Cantin are in the Royal Canadian Navy Naval Reserve.
Serving part-time in the Canadian Forces may not be a typical “date night”, but their “family night” is like any other.
“Saturday nights consist of a movie,” Ouellette says, “but the children must sing the mantra of ‘city planning, city planning, long-term city planning’ 20 times before.”
Ouellette has a dry sense of humour. For instance, the conversation turns to food - in particular Slice’s Pizza on Stafford St. - which Ouellette considers a Manitoban delicacy, noting he takes olives, goat cheese, and hot salami on a thin crust. “So I can eat a lot more,” he jokes.
However he’s less exotic with his choice of munchies: popcorn, chocolate, and chips. And he’s downright sentimental when it comes to tea vs coffee.
“Tea,” he says. “It reminds me of my mother.”
Stephen Harper plays the piano, Bill Clinton plays the sax, but Robert-Falcon Ouellette claims his fame on the trumpet and euphonium.
“Rob is a great classical musician,” wife Cantin says. “He loves classical music and his favourite composer is Mozart.”
He also has a preference for the classics when it comes to fashion, considering the suit and tie a wardrobe essential.
Though “sometimes a bow tie is required for any university academic,” he says. Just don’t expect him to accessorize with a fine timepiece.
“Rob is unable to wear and keep a watch,” Cantin says. “I must have given him six watches since I’ve known him and he lost them all,” she says with a laugh. “He is also very good a misplacing his keys and his wallet.”
One thing he vows not to misplace is his integrity, which, along with infrastructure, has become a key election issue and talking point for every candidate.
“[It is] one of the most important tasks as the next Mayor,” Ouellette says. “It is time to clean up civic politics, and the time to start is during the campaign, not just after the election.”
On Aug. 7, he tweeted a challenge to “… all candidates who believe in open and transparent government to publish all of your real donors.”
Ouellette’s list already includes a number of well-known civil activists, artists, and community members. All candidates are required to release a list of donors after election results are official.
On his campaign website Ouellette outlines a five-point policy to improve integrity, as well as his policies on issues of active transportation and infrastructure.
“If I only accomplish one thing in my term I will be very disappointed for myself and the city for I will have not attained any of the objectives that I have set for Winnipeg,” he says.
“My honour is at stake.”
Published in Volume 69, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 10, 2014)