Manitoba Municipal Elections 2018

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Aristotleded24
Manitoba Municipal Elections 2018

I know TheAnalyst already has a thread about the Winnipeg Police Association where next month's municipal election is mentioned, however I wanted to start a more generic thread to go over more issues, and also invite conversation about municipal elections throughout the province.

First off, Winnipeg. How did we get where we are today? In 1989, a left-wing insurgency in Winnipeg took over Winnipeg City Council, and was to then one of the best ever showings for the left since the 1940s. The PC government at the time responded by shrinking council to its current size, thereby eliminating the possibility that a council majority would be able to stop a mayor from proceeding with his or her agenda. How is this possible? The Mayor appoints an Executive Policy Committee (EPC). This EPC is nearly half the council, and along with the EPC, the mayor only needs 1 or 2 extra votes for something to go through. This creates a situation where roughly half of council votes with the mayor, and the other half can only yell and scream but can't actually put the brakes on anything. Traditionally, the fault line tends to be left-wing, urban councillors representing low income areas on one side, with right-wing, suburban councillors representing higher income areas on the other. What's fascinating about the Bowman administration is that while there still is a de facto pro mayor and anti-mayor coalition, Bowman's allies and critics on council are members of both factions.

So what do I think about Bowman? Frankly, he's a car salesman. One of his first acts as mayor was to attempt to eliminate severence pay for outgoing councillors who quit or were defeated. Some critics indicated that councillors who vote a certain way may have problems finding employment after council, and that other councillors can easily rely on their connections to bounce back. Bowman, a former law firm partner, said with a straight face that nobody on council has a job lined up for them when they are done. On the rapid transit file, he accepted the bad decision by the former Katz administration to route the line away from Pembina Highway. There is also the issue with bus fare. It is true that the province did hurt Winnipeg with its cuts to Winnipeg Transit. But while this was going on, Bowman passed a city budget that lowered business taxes while at the same time raising bus fare. I don't know how much of a difference the business tax reduction made, but on principle the idea of cutting business taxes while raising transit fares is problematic. That said, the expansion of the city's bike trail system provides another option for those of us who were able that is inexpensive. He has started the process of building rapid transit to eastern Winnipeg. He also fought very hard to build the Bruce Oak Recover Centre, a place for recovering addicts. It is a small piece of help that is badly needed, however against opposition, Bowman stood up and said, "addicts need help." The big issue that has moved me into Bowman's camp, however, is development fees. For too long, developers have been building car friendly suburban developments near the city's edge, which has implications for infrastructure of existing communities. Against opposition from developers, he fought to implement a fee on new developments at the city's fringe. This not only serves to discourage suburban sprawl, but also gives the city more money for its own needs. Not even Judy Wasylicia-Leis brought up this idea in either of her campaigns.

So on the mayoral front, I think Bowman is the best we can expect, as I simply do not see a Valerie Plante or Charlie Clark type figure emerging in this election cycle. I think the real battle will be for council seats. The seats in particular that need attention are Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, Point Douglas, and Transcona which are all open (the latter 2 of which would mean a net gain for the left) and River Heights-Fort Garry, where incumbent John Orlikow is in a fight against a former right-wing councillor Garth Steek. I think Bowman is maleable enough that a solid left-wing contingent would be a positive influence on his administration. For me the real battle, is 2022, and we should start preparing for that on October 25. Bowman has indicated an intention to only run 2 terms. That means other people will be preparing for the empty spot, and the issues in Winnipeg will be very pronounced by that time. There are very reactionary forces that would love to undo the baby steps that the Glen Murray and Brian Bowman administrations have taken towards making Winnpeg a more liveable city.

Aristotleded24

So to other municipalities now. In Brandon, Rick Chrest is going for a second term, and will likely be acclaimed. He is a business-frinedly former councillor, and I used to live in his area. He wasn't that responsive to the community, however I have heard that he is a much better mayor than he was a city councillor. In other news, councillor Lonnie Patterson, after one term, is not running again so she can run for the NDP nomination in the next provincial election. She will run in Brandon East, a long time NDP seat that fell to the PCs in 2016.

In other news, Victoria Beach overwhelmingly elected a new reeve and council, following many controversies including issues surronding the fire department.

Aristotleded24

We have results in:

Brandon City: Rick Chrest acclaimed, right-wing councillors hold on in key wards

Winnipeg: Brian Bowman re-elected

Daniel McIntyre: Incumbent Cindy Gilroy holds on by a large margin. I voted for her labour-backed challenger Josh Brandon, however dispite some communication issues, she has been an acceptable councillor

Point Douglas: Pagtakhan's assistant Vivian Santos wins. My immediate reaction is to be disappointed because of her association to Pagtakhan, however she may pleasantly surprise me.

Interesting note on that point, labour-endorsed candidates failed to win 2 of the city's poorest wards. Daniel Mac is understandable because they were taking on an incumbent. But seriously, what the fuck is their excuse for losing Point Douglas in an open race? Remember what I said upthread about how ineffective the unions in this province are? Sometimes I hate being proved right.

River Heights-Fort Garry: John Orlikow wins big. Orlikow made a name for himself as a rookie councillor by voting against a land swap, which handed a large wetland over to a developer. The devleoper has accused city hall of unfairly blocking him, and he even singled out Orlikow for being against it in particular. Very glad that the developer's bullying tactics failed. Orlikow's opponent was Garth Steek. I was surprised by the margin. There are 2 possibilities, although not mutually exclusive: as vocal as they are, the right-wingers are not as numerous as they sound, and that some of the more conservative polls being taken out of that ward helped Orlikow.

Waverly West: Janice Lukes acclaimed

St. James: This pitted 2 incumbent councillors, Bowman ally Scott Gillingham against Bowman opponent Shawn Dobson. This was because the ward was redrawn to eliminate Dobson's old ward of St. Charles. Gillingham prevailed

Charleswood: Grant Nordman, who supported Sam Katz as mayor, failed in his bid to return to council.

What does this mean? For Brian Bowman, despite 4 councillors (Eadie, Schreyer, Lukes, and Browaty) openly supporting his opponent, his agenda is pretty much intact (with one obvious exception that I'll mention in the other thread). For us on the left? Not a great night, but we didn't lose any key ground. One of the important items from a left wing perspective is that rapid transit will now expand to Transcona. Despite the blunder on the leg going to the University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg is slowly moving forward on this issue, and will get moving. If this leg is a success, then Winnipeggers will come around to see the benefits of rapid transit, and will support it more. The geinie is not quite out of the bottle yet, but it's getting there. (Now the city needs to be really smart and do LRT along Portage and Main, but that is a discussion for another time.) Bike lanes are going up downtown, and while it would have been nice for them to have been completed in time for the Fringe Fest, this also helps us poor people move around more easily. And this gives Bowman a more solid case and political capital to argue that big suburban developers need to pay their way. The fringe candidates this cycle (as in 2010) were horrible, so they weren't an option. I voted for Bowman, even though I knew he was going to win big. I felt that there would be lower turnout this time, and that this would take some of the shine off his win. I wanted Bowman to have as many votes as possible to send a strong message of repudiation to the reactionary elements of the city as represented by Motkaluk. That's about the extent of my knowledge. I hope some of our other members (TheAnalyst, laine lowe, Timebandit, epaulo) have more information about how open races in Transcona and St. Norbert and what that means for us.

I'll have more to say later on. We can relax a bit tonight, because we essentially held our ground. Tomorrow the campaign to elect a mayor who truly represents the issues of the people must start.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..the incumbent councilor in my ward of old kildonan had a website that said absolutely nothing other than meaningless platitudes. i emailed for a copy of the platform..there wasn't one. 2 others ran against, one a developer the other no web site and no campaign material. the only person i found i could vote for was a school trustee. 

..come voting day in the advance poll the trustee got in by acclamation so his name wasn't on the ballot. since bowman was far ahead in the polls i didn't have to vote for him to keep out something worse as i don't like his politics or policies. so the only thing i ticked on my ballot was the portage and main issue.

..hoping that next election things will be different.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Not a great night, but we didn't lose any key ground.

..glad to hear this ari.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I’m disappointed by the predictable win for the No side on opening Portage and Main to pedestrians. Saw an interesting graphic, though - the Yes voters are clustered in the central parts of the city. The people who actually live nearby want it open. As a non-binding plebiscite, I’m hoping they’ll still find a way to do it. 

Very happy Steek isn’t our councillor. 

The Analyst The Analyst's picture

I think we should regard Transcona as trending to the right. Daniel Blaikie won the riding of Elmwood-Transcona by just 51 votes in 2015. The newer suburban developments in Transcona tend to attract high income residents who aspire to a conventional suburban lifestyle (large yards, car-centric - a group of residents in a new Transcona development are even opposing sidewalks). Jenny Motkaluk also did very well in the north and east suburbs of Winnipeg. 

There was quite a bit of odd-ball stuff going around with the progressive organizing this election. The NDP stopped endorsing candidates after 2010, but the Winnipeg Labour Council took up the mantle. The Winnipeg Labour Council endorsed Sherri Rollins and Josh Brandon among others this time.  CUPE, despite being affiliated with the Labour Council, just ignored that and campaigned for Cindy Gilroy because they thought she'd win (she did, in the end). Failed 2010/2014  mayoral contender Judy Wasylycia-Leis also endorsed Gilroy, for some odd reason. And in Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry NDP MLA James Allum decided to back Jeff Palmer against Sherri Rollins for some reason. Rollins won in the end by a razor thin margin. 

The Analyst The Analyst's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Interesting note on that point, labour-endorsed candidates failed to win 2 of the city's poorest wards. Daniel Mac is understandable because they were taking on an incumbent. But seriously, what the fuck is their excuse for losing Point Douglas in an open race? Remember what I said upthread about how ineffective the unions in this province are? Sometimes I hate being proved right.

One thing to keep in mind is that city elections don't have a real party system. Santos was the last councillor's executive assistant and worked part time during there during her campaign. Most working poor Point Douglas voters likely have no idea what the Winnipeg Labour Council is and why they should care that they endorsed someone.

Aristotleded24

epaulo13 wrote:
..the incumbent councilor in my ward of old kildonan had a website that said absolutely nothing other than meaningless platitudes. i emailed for a copy of the platform..there wasn't one. 2 others ran against, one a developer the other no web site and no campaign material. the only person i found i could vote for was a school trustee.

That's really unfortunate epaulo. Especially frustrating since the candidates are effectively applying for the job of being our elected representatives. The sad part is that many of these candidates are business owners, and yet if any one of us were as bad in preparing our resumes as they were in putting together their campaign websites, they wouldn't hesitate to toss our resumes and we'd have to keep looking.

Timebandit wrote:
I’m disappointed by the predictable win for the No side on opening Portage and Main to pedestrians. Saw an interesting graphic, though - the Yes voters are clustered in the central parts of the city. The people who actually live nearby want it open. As a non-binding plebiscite, I’m hoping they’ll still find a way to do it.

The problem is that Bowman has committed to respecting the results of the vote, so barring any drastic changes, the intersection will remain closed. The other problem is that if you go ahead and open the intersection anyways, that will just fuel cynicism about politics and how the people's votes don't count, and the right is generally good at benefitting from that. I voted to open the intersection, but if keeping it closed is the sacrifice that needs to be made to prevent the Sam Katz, Gord Steeves, Jenny Motkaluk and Jeff Browaty types from becoming mayor, I'll gladly make that sacrifice.

The vote was doomed to failure the way it was set up. You don't say you're going to open it up and then drop the bomb on the people to vote for it. You have to prepare them for that. You start by telling people that the legal agreement that resulted in the closure of the intersection is expiring, and that the barricades are near the end of their life cycle and need to be taken down for maintenance. Neither was done. You use this as a basis to talk more generally about what people want from downtown, with Portage and Main as one component. For example, say you have an LRT that runs along Portage and Main, and is connected through an underground tunnel downtown. Next, you take all the feeder buses that run into downtown along Portage and Main, and have them instead cross perpendicular to each streat, and terminate those routes downtown. York and St. Mary Avenue, being one-way streets, are excellent places to put these buses if they can't all fit on Graham Avenue. This means there would be no buses going through Portage and Main, and you have eliminated one of the key objections to opening the intersection.

Timebandit wrote:
Very happy Steek isn’t our councillor.

Agreed. Gary Lenko, on the other hand, sounds like a fine candidate who would be an excellent councillor for the ward when Orlikow decides it's time to move on to other things.

The Analyst wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Interesting note on that point, labour-endorsed candidates failed to win 2 of the city's poorest wards. Daniel Mac is understandable because they were taking on an incumbent. But seriously, what the fuck is their excuse for losing Point Douglas in an open race? Remember what I said upthread about how ineffective the unions in this province are? Sometimes I hate being proved right.

One thing to keep in mind is that city elections don't have a real party system. Santos was the last councillor's executive assistant and worked part time during there during her campaign. Most working poor Point Douglas voters likely have no idea what the Winnipeg Labour Council is and why they should care that they endorsed someone.

But that proves my point. Unions claim to be the voice of the working class and the working poor and working for the interests of those with lower income. Point Douglas is the kind of riding that the Labour Council should win by default. That they can't says a great deal about their ineffectiveness as an organization and how disconnected they are from the very people they claim to represent. That means it has been close to 20 years since organized labour actually won an election of consequence in this province, but I'll have more to say about that in another thread.