At first blush, it seems easy to count Michel Fillion out as a viable mayoral candidate. His soundbites and publicity stunts don’t sit well with the public’s opinion of what makes a good mayor (but then again, the Toronto public elected Rob Ford).
Fillion is best known for his eccentricities, including lip-syncing to ABBA in a YouTube video and dressing like a construction worker - complete with hard hat - at the infrastructure forum.
And while these public expressions are part of his personality, they constitute a small part of the overall picture.
“He’s not like they portray in the news,” Fillion’s receptionist Heather Keys says. “He’s actually very smart, full of ideas, he’s always thinking about everything.”
Keys says Fillion, or “Mitch” as she knows him, is the only candidate who lives, works and goes out downtown - counting that as one reason he should be mayor.
“Plus we’d have the best-dressed mayor in the country,” she adds.
Fillion’s business partner Al Pitch agrees. The two work at Superb Entertainment - a “full-service entertainment agency and event production company,” as described on its website.
“Did you know,” Pitch poses, “that he’s the only candidate who’s lead a successful business for over 30 years?”
It’s widely known Superb Entertainment books all the exotic dancers who appear in Winnipeg’s night clubs. Fillion is open about his line of work and previously agreed to let Winnipeg media have an inside look at his profession.
Fillion is confident his three decades of administrative experience with Superb Entertainment make him the best choice.
“I have the experience and the know-how,” he says. “More than any other contender in this election.”
“I have always been a leader, and this is something I know I have to do.”
What he is not leading in (besides the polls) is visibility, citing lack of finances as the main reason, though he has a YouTube channel and Twitter account where he posts regularly.
The YouTube channel features over a dozen videos on topics such as the Aboriginal community, seniors, money and roads.
Fillion says fixing the roads is his number one priority and will pay for it by increasing property tax by five per cent per year for two years.
“Then,” he says, “we will see how much funding we get from the different areas and see if we continue or not.”
He would also “collect the city’s share of the one per cent PST hike from the provincial government using the population as leverage,” and add a minimum one cent per litre gas tax at the pump. Fillion also wants to tax non-residents who work in Winnipeg through a payroll tax on the employees part and a property tax on the part of business owners.
When Fillion talks about roads, he also includes sidewalks, which he thinks are in equal need of repair downtown where he and his partner Rick Irving have lived for a number of years.
“As mayor working and living downtown,” he proclaims, “I would be setting an example.”
Winnipeg’s civic election is Wednesday, Oct. 22. Visit winnipeg.ca/Clerks/election/election2014/default.stm for more info on voting.
Published in Volume 69, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 15, 2014)