One More Municipal Election
Yet another Canadian province held municipal elections this week, and I once again couldn’t let it go by without some mention. Manitobans went to the polls on Wednesday night to elect their mayor and councillors. Despite some awful weather Wednesday, voters toughed it out to cast their ballots. While the municipal races in Manitoba did not garner as much attention as those in Ontario and Alberta, they are none the less important.
In Winnipeg, the province’s largest city and Canada’s eighth largest city, incumbent mayor Sam Katz (who I think has the creepiest smile ever) was seeking reelection. He was first selected for the job in 2004 and wished to serve a third term. The last incumbent not to win reelection was ousted 54 years ago, so the odds for Katz’s return looked good. However, he faced longtime and well respected NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis (don’t ask me to pronounce her name). She vacated her federal seat in order to run for the top job.
While polls showed the race to be a virtual toss up between the two, in the end Katz won handily, beating Wasylycia-Leis by over 25,000 votes. The focus of the campaign in the later stages was on crime, as Winnipeg dealt with shooting deaths and increased violence. Katz received the endorsement from many law enforcement officials, which perhaps could account for his win. Winnipeg residents are desperate to see an increased police presence and reduced crime in their city.
One of the more interesting parts of the campaign is when Katz kicked a child in the face. This was an accident, as he missed the ball during a soccer game. He of course apologized to the child and all is well. But someone made a campaign video out of the incident, stating not to vote for Katz since he kicks children in the face. It was obviously a joke, but some American news stations aired the story, thinking it was real. See the video below.
As for Winnipeg city council, it is pretty boring. All the incumbents seeking reelection won, and the new faces that will come to city hall are from wards where the seat was up for grabs. The only other Manitoba races of interest are Brandon, where the incumbent Dave Burgess was defeated by Shari Decter Hirst. Affordable housing was the hot button issue in Brandon for this campaign.
It is interesting when looking at the elections in Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg that all were predicted to be very close. Yet once the votes were counted, none of them actually were. Naheed Nenshi, Rob Ford and Sam Katz all beat their closest rivals without question. I realize polls have margins of error, that are used to explain this, but still makes me curious why the media made the races out to be so close, when in fact they weren’t. Goes to show nothing is for certain until the final votes are counted.