26 Jun

Winnipeg’s Next Mayor

Of late, I have been paying attention to the embryonic stages of Winnipeg’s mayoralty campaign as prospective candidates and candidateettes jockey for your vote in the hopes of succeeding Slippery Sam Katz at City Hall.

I think many Winnipeggers share my opinion that Katz has more than overstayed his welcome in the mayor’s chair and needs to go. His recent decision not to stand for re-election was perhaps the smartest move he’s made in several years.

The question now remains as who will succeed him. Thus far, the four most prominent contenders don’t look impressive.

For starters, there’s Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Only a dead-red socialist like her could inspire a run to the ballot box to support Sam Katz and it was likely only her candidacy that earned Katz another term. I’ve listened as she’s promised to magically fix all the roads and sewers with her Midas-like touch and put a critter in every pot, all while keeping tax increases modest and predictable.

If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

I used the line in the last civic election that Sam Katz is like a wart on your finger. Voting for Judy is the moral equivalent of cutting off your arm at the shoulder to get rid of it.

I was intrigued by Brian Bowman’s candidacy until I heard him speak at Socialism Illustrated’s so-called “News Café.” He calls himself a conservative, but he sounded every bit like a member of the NDP. I was shocked when he almost seemed to support the recent PST increase and he even had the nerve to suggest that if the province had held a referendum on the PST increase, as was required by law, it would pass. To quote a former friend of mine, “What’s he been smoking?” If he is a member of either the Manitoba PC Party or the federal Conservative Party, I hope he has enough honor to turn in his membership card. I don’t agree with Judy’s leftist leanings, but I at least respect her for being honest and straightforward about them.

Bowman may be new to the political arena, but he is one smooth operator. Too smooth, in fact. Reported connections between him and the Chipman family make me even less inclined to support him. I don’t want Sam Katz, Jr. as the next mayor any more than I want Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Paula Havixbeck seemed to make the most sense to me and I would probably lean towards supporting her. She’ll probably garner some sympathy votes for being a single mother, but otherwise, I don’t think she has enough name recognition to win the election. She might also be getting in over her head.

When I heard Gord Steeves speak, he reminded me of the line in one of the Peanuts episodes when Lucy was talking about Charlie Brown. Wishy one day, washy the next. I would rather see him in office than either of Judy or Brian Bowman, but I certainly didn’t get much of a positive impression from him. He would probably qualify as the “do nothing, mind the store” candidate, attributes that could potentially make him appealing. Many past mayors and councillors have won elections as the least undesirable option, but I’m not sure he has a high enough profile to pull it off.

I think many in Winnipeg are thrilled that Sam Katz will be gone after this coming election. Who will succeed him, however, may be no better and could very well be worse, perhaps even much worse. Don’t be surprised if Katz’s legacy begins to look much better as the years go by.