City & Politics, City Hall

Brian Bowman is Winnipeg’s new mayor

With just over half of eligible voters casting ballots, Winnipeggers elected Brian Bowman their mayor by a staggering margin of 53,064 votes over second-place finisher, Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Bowman took nearly 48% of the vote to Wasylycia-Leis’ 25%.

Bowman, a privacy lawyer by trade, started the race with little name recognition outside of Winnipeg’s business and legal communities. Long affiliated with the province’s Progressive Conservative Party, he tried to cast his campaign as a centrist alternative to Wasylycia-Leis’ left-leaning and Gord Steeves’ right-leaning ones.

He will preside over a council of both new and old faces. One-term councillors Thomas Steen (Elmwood—East Kildonan) and Grant Nordman (St. Charles), and long-time councillor Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) lost to challengers Jason Schreyer, Shawn Dobson and Cindy Gilroy. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), Ross Eadie (Mynarski), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge—East Fort Garry), Brian Mayes (St. Vital), John Orlikow (River Heights—Fort Garry), Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas), Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan), and Russ Wyatt (Transcona) were all re-elected. Four wards were without incumbents going into this election: St. Norbert will be represented by Janice Lukes, St. James—Brooklands by Scott Gillingham, St. Boniface by Matt Allard, and Charleswood—Tuxedo by Marty Morantz.

The elections for school trustees received little attention during this municipal campaign, which was often dominated by discussions over infrastructure, rapid transit, downtown renewal and urban sprawl. One trustee candidate, however, managed to garner headlines early in the race for her controversial views on sex education, the science of evolution and abortion. Candace Maxymowich, who was contesting a seat in the Louis Riel School Division (Ward 4), placed last with just under 16% of the popular vote.

Even though he placed third in the race for mayor, newcomer Robert-Falcon Ouellette may be considered the break-out star of this election race. With even less name recognition than victor Bowman, no ties to Winnipeg’s business and political circles, and facing down dismissive coverage by Winnipeg’s major media outlets, including being labelled one of the election’s “fridge candidates,” Ouellette managed to garner 36,823 votes (15.7%). Moreover, he finished well ahead of established candidates and former councillors Gord Steeves and Paula Havixbeck, who netted just 8.99 and 0.89% of the popular vote respectively.

Despite Ouellette’s surge in support, which may have come at the expense of Wasylycia-Leis’, Bowman’s share of the vote was still higher than the combined total of both Ouellette’s and Wasylycia-Leis’; a fact that is likely not lost on Bowman’s advisors and Bowman himself as he prepares to take the mayor’s chair.