The date of our municipal election is upon us. Many Winnipeggers have already taken to the advanced polls, and soon our mayor and council will be elected and sworn in. For citizens young and old here in the heart of the continent, this will affect our lives for years to come.
Contrary to popular belief and most media coverage, there are four candidates for the position of mayor, not two. In addition to incumbent sharp dresser Sam Katz and the NDP-backed Judy Wasylycia-Leis, we have Brad Gross and Rav Gill — both of whom are heavily involved in real estate and will likely see a boost in their respective businesses for their efforts, despite the near certainty that they’ll both be trounced at the polls.
And, in all likelihood, their imminent and undeniable trouncing is the very reason for most media outlets have all but completely ignored them. Time is money. Why piss it away on horses bound for the political glue-factory?
To be fair, Gross has some interesting ideas on his website. Among his many election promises are these gems: “Traffic lights will be synchronized,” “Assiniboine Ave will be changed back,” and my personal favourite, “We will look at expelling career criminals out of the city (if you can’t join society please leave).” Beauties, eh?
Rav Gill, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have anything to say at all. His website, however, does boast a handsome headshot. Gill may even get my vote in the end, but only for getting into Marlo Campbell’s bad books by calling her “babe” at the end of an interview. Judging only from her half-inch portrait beside her columns, Rav Gill calls ‘em as he sees ‘em. Good on ya, Gilly!
But let’s get back to the heavyweights here. A lot of big time spenders have Sammy’s back on this one. That, coupled with our current generally-conservative political climate, could be all it takes to keep Katz in the big house for another grueling term. Having said that, there are plenty of reasons that suggest that Katz is less than qualified: his flippy-floppy position on rapid transit, his blasé attitude towards human rights, young voters and poverty, and his bizarre obsession with helicopters come immediately to mind.
But clearly, it is his overexertion at a particular charity soccer match that resonates the greatest with me when I imagine Katz in the mayor’s office for another term. Who could vote for a man whose untamable desire to win propelled him to deliver a solid kick to the face of an inner-city child? Sure, it was an accident, but who cares so much about winning a friendly soccer match that they’ll pull a move like that? Not me, nor anyone I’d vote for.
Which brings us to the NDP’s loyal party member, Judy Wasylycia-Leis. If you have anything to do with the NDP, or are a member of almost any union in the city, chances are you’re already voting for Judy, and if you’re are a part of Katz’ right-wing cabal, there’s no chance you are.
This puts the onus on Judy to get voters out and casting ballots for her. Incumbent mayors in Winnipeg are undefeated in election since 1954. Judging on the back and forth between Judy and Sam of late, neither have anything very exciting to propose, nothing that will be sure to galvanize uninterested citizens to get up off sofa to register and vote.
Both candidates go stroke for stroke on the issues, with the ball simply landing either slightly to the right or slightly to the left side of the court. At a recent debate, the ball went back and forth with zero excitement. Thankfully, I stayed home to watch the Leafs’ home opener against the Habs and was able to bypass the actual yawnfest thanks to Twitter. The colour commentary added by reporters live-tweeting the debate online was the only thing that kept it interesting at all.
And so here we are, fishing turds out of a backed-up shitter. Not one of our options looks great. They all stink. However, the turd mostly likely to be plucked out and put on display for another term happens to be the biggest, most offensively odiferous of them all. Here’s hoping another turd gets a shot, this time around. Happy fishing, friends!
Sheldon Birnie is the Comment Editor at the Manitoban.