The Better Voter Series: Endorsements liven up civic campaign

Mayor claims council candidate may have received funding from the provincial NDP

From signs to statements, mayoral candidates are accepting political endorsements locally and abroad. Cindy Titus

This year’s civic election candidates have garnered an unprecedented number of endorsements, with everyone from the Winnipeg Police Association, the Manitoba NDP and Green Party leader Elizabeth May weighing in on the municipal campaign.

Far from uniting candidates around specific goals, these endorsements have become divisive as the campaign nears its close.

“You have to be extremely humbled when the men and women who basically risk their lives on a daily basis decide that your platform ... is so good that they ... come forward and endorse you,” said mayor Sam Katz, who has received endorsements from the Winnipeg Police Association and the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.

Katz continues to rally against party influence on city council, however, and believes that the Manitoba NDP have manufactured a slate of heavily partisan candidates.

“(In this election) you have a slate of candidates that basically have nominations from the NDP and they are funded by the NDP,” the mayor said. “You won’t find any other slate of candidates from any political party and you won’t find me endorsing any people running for council, either.”

In a scathing criticism of NDP endorsements, the mayor alluded to a blog post by anonymous Winnipeg blogger The Black Rod.
“Ross Eadie, who is a candidate, specifically said that if it wasn’t for getting funding from the NDP he wouldn’t have been able to run this election,” said Katz. “That’s a quote from Ross Eadie.”

Ross Eadie is an NDP party member running in the Mynarski ward.

“I run an honest campaign,” said Eadie in response to the allegations, adding that his statements at a candidates’ forum were taken out of context. “It disgusts me that the mayor would do stuff like this.”

According to a post by the Black Rod and comments by a user calling himself AlexLV on the Winnipeg Free Press website, Eadie told an audience at a candidates’ forum on Monday, Sept. 27, that he wouldn’t be able to run if it wasn’t for the financial support of the provincial NDP.

Ross Eadie, who is a candidate, specifically said that if it wasn’t for getting funding from the NDP he wouldn’t have been able to run this election.

Sam Katz, mayor of Winnipeg

If Eadie is receiving campaign financing from the NDP party, it would be in violation of provincial legislation.

The 2008 Municipal Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act bans corporate and union donations, which would include campaign contributions from a provincial party.

“All I said was that people who join political parties are (most likely) people that are willing to make political contributions,” he said.

Eadie and Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry councillor Jenny Gerbasi have both received formal endorsements from the Manitoba NDP. The only contested endorsements, which went to a nomination vote, have taken place in Daniel McIntyre and Elmwood-East Kildonan, where NDP constituency assistant Keith Bellamy and former CTV reporter Shaneen Robinson have received party endorsements.

Bellamy defends the process as open and transparent way of choosing like-minded candidates.

“Every party is involved at the civic level but the NDP felt that it was important to have an open and transparent process,” the Daniel McIntyre candidate said. “Squelching democratic input would be a bad idea.”

Judy Wasylycia-Leis has also received her share of support, with endorsements coming from local activist Sel Burrows and federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“I can’t presume to know what policies Judy (Wasylycia-Leis) would implement as mayor but I know her background and I know what she cares about,” said May, adding that Wasylycia-Leis has a strong environmentalist background and has worked hard as a federal MP to improve social justice in Winnipeg.

Published in Volume 65, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 21, 2010)

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