The Better Voter Series: Mayoral candidate spotlight

Getting to know Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Judy Wasylycia-Leis. David Seburn/Uniter Archives

You may only know her as Judy Alphabet, but there’s more to mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis than a long, hyphenated name.

With over 20 years as an NDP politician under her belt, she is confident in the experience and connections she would bring to the role of mayor.

“I think because I have worked so long and hard at different levels of government and I know the key players, I can be a strong voice working with the provincial and federal government to get a better deal for Winnipeg.”

Because she has been a provincial cabinet minister, a federal finance critic, has a master’s degree in political science from Carleton University and has worked for a variety of policy groups, some media outlets have questioned her ability to relate to “real world” employment.

In response, Wasylycia-Leis refers critics to her successful ability to blend her personal and professional life.

“I came to the table as a mother who has, through all of her political life, juggled the family responsibilities with a crazy political career,” she said.

Wasylycia-Leis, who has lived in the North End since 1982, has two sons with her husband. One son has a rare brain disorder called band heterotopia, or double cortex syndrome, which causes uncontrollable seizures and profound intellectual disability.

She believes mixing her personal knowledge with her political style is just the change the city needs.

“(I have) an approach to politics that believes you’ve got to start from the grassroots up,” she explained. “I have always believed that the most important role that I could have ever performed as a MP was not all the laws that I helped make but the ability to empower others to fight for change and to help build communities stronger.“

Through her varied ventures, Wasylycia-Leis is passionate about the essence of Winnipeg.

“I love more than anything the rich arts and heritage community that knows the importance of remembering our past; that uses the strength in terms of artistic expression to build communities; that recognizes that it is through that – through sharing of our different faiths and foods and dance and cultural traditions – that you can find unity and strength and purpose,” she said.

“And there’s something magical about that.”


Published in Volume 65, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 23, 2010)

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