Tomorrow, October 24. 2018, Winnipeg will be holding a civic election for mayor, councilors, and trustees. We’ve outlined who the candidates are, and done an issue by issue stance to help you better understand how to cast your vote.
Brian Bowman – Former privacy lawyer and Winnipeg’s first Métis mayor is running for re-election after serving one term. Less than 3 months into his term, Winnipeg was declared Canada’s most racist city. Rather than denying the problem or becoming defensive, Bowman promised action – and has taken strides to address this issue, including creating an Indigenous accord. Bowman is also an active face in the community (he attended every single Folklorama pavilion!). He fell short of reforming city council, as promised in the previous election, but remains committed to pursuing new approaches to increase transparency, welcome newcomers and create a youth council. He has promised an increase in property taxes by 2.33% over the next four years.
Jenny Motkaluk – A business-development consultant frustrated with the state of civic politics, Motkaluk has promised to make changes. Motkaluk is especially interested in taking a hard line on crime and cooperating with developers. She has promised to raise property taxes by 1.16% over the next four years and seems to be the most credible opponent to Bowman in this election.
Don Woodstock – Former Winnipeg Transit driver interested in changing the city’s anti-harassment policies to nurture a culture of safety in workplaces. Woodstock has promised a freeze on property taxes for four years and the elimination of growth fees.
Tim Diack – This Winnipeg police constable has made it clear that he is not running just to serve the needs of the police. His property tax plan involves raising them by 1.2% in 2019, freezing them in 2020, and cutting them in 2021.
Venkat Machiraju – An engineer dedicated to improving infrastructure, reducing property taxes, and encouraging development in the city.
Umar Hayat – An entrepreneur and real estate investor committed to attracting more foreign investment and building a downtown grocery store. Hayat has pledged to reduce property taxes and reduce funding for the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Inuit Art Center by over 90%.
Doug Wilson – This former mayor of Morden has stated that poverty is the most pressing issue facing Winnipeg. To address this, Wilson has promised to pursue better wages and educational opportunities for citizens.
Ed Ackerman – An eccentric filmmaker that has pledged to reduce the police budget and build a “negative toll bridge” that pays people to visit the North End.
Methamphetamine and Opiate Crisis
With increasing numbers of possession crimes, ER cases, and methamphetamine-related crimes, the city is facing a dire situation that requires significant measures.
Bowman and Hayat have stated that they would consider safe injection sites, which have proven successful in Vancouver. Motkaluk has pledged to create a specialized police task force and contribute $100,000 to a methamphetamine treatment wing at the Main Street Project. However, Motkaluk has not committed to covering the $400,000 cost of staffing the facility. Woodstock and Diack are also in favour of establishing treatment and intake facilities. Wilson, Machiraju, and Ackerman have not established formal stances on the issue.
The Winnipeg Police Service has played an active role in the campaign process. They serve as an opposing force to Bowman by running disturbing attack ads criticizing the city budget for WPS. Nevertheless, members of the Police Service comprise 8 of the 10 top earners in the municipal government.
Motkaluk recently stated that “[i]f you take a walk, someone is going to threaten to stab you, and I’m not making that up and you know that it’s true.” This sentiment is evident in her policing strategy. She has pledged to double police officers in schools, create a crime-prevention fund and create a task force to redirect more police to front lines. Diack has promised to buy police new phones and computers, to force criminals to front policing costs, and to station a policing unit in the Health Science Center. Bowman has pledged to divert $1.5m a year from police pensions into front-line policing and divert $100,000 of his mayoral discretionary office fund to fund crime prevention, while Hayat has stated that he would freeze the police budget. Other candidates have not clearly stated their stance.
The two primary environmental issues posed to candidates were on the topics of organic waste collection and plastic bag policy.
All candidates but Ackerman have explicitly supported the collection of organic waste. On the plastic bag issue, Woodstock, Diack, Wilson, and Machiraju are all in favour of banning plastic bags. Hayat and Motkaluk directly oppose a ban on plastic bags. Bowman has encouraged the provincial government to lead a plastic bag policy, but the environmental policy of the provincial government suggests that this will not lead to a ban. Ackerman has no position.
Additionally, Motkaluk plans to invest in electric city buses and Machiraju pledges to remove fluoride from drinking water.
Neither Machiraju or Motkaluk attended the mayoral forum on poverty hosted at the University of Winnipeg by several non-profit organizations. Bowman cited city hall’s support for United Way Winnipeg’s end homelessness plan, while Diack proposed an increased focus on schools located in the inner city. Ackerman wants to abolish the business licence fee for small vendors, while Hayat hopes to promote small businesses as well as attract foreign investments. At this forum, Wilson emphasized finding homes to get people off the street, while Woodstock discussed redirecting funds being given to corporations towards inner-city recreational activities.
Winnipeg’s transit system has been widely criticized for ineffectiveness.
In response to this criticism, Bowman has pledged to divert $4.1m from the planned Fort Rouge transit garage roof replacement and spend it on 55 new heated bus shelters. Motkaluk and Hayat oppose rapid-transit lines and plan to stop development of the project. Diack intends to install panic buttons on buses and Machiraju supports more infrastructure projects like completing an inner ring road. Wilson and Woodstock are both in favour of more active transportation projects. In fact, Woodstock committed to a $2b project that would result in the creation of a light rail system.
Portage and Main
The opening of the Portage and Main intersection to pedestrian traffic has been a contentious topic of discussion in the city. Proponents of the opening cite disable mobility rights and increased investment in downtown. Those who oppose the opening argue that the move would increase congestion, the $11.6m price tag and potential for collisions.
Bowman and Wilson are among those in favour of opening the intersection. Unfortunately, Wilson has put a 32-year deadline on the project. Motkaluk, Woodstock, and Hayat are explicitly opposed to the proposal. Diack has stated that Winnipeg has more pressing issues to consider (an implicit ‘no’). Ackerman and Machiraju have not expressed their stance on the issue.
For more information on mayoral, council and trustee candidates, follow this link.
Register to vote here.
Find out where you can vote here.
Find out how to fill out a ballot here.
Find a list of FAQ for the election here.
Being an active citizen is the most important component of a successful democracy. Show up and vote tomorrow to choose the city that you want to live in.