Playing Catch-Up

August 4, 2006

On a warm early August afternoon in downtown Winnipeg, Mayor Sam Katz finally officially threw his hat into the ring to face reelection as Mayor of Winnipeg, several weeks after main rival Kaj Hasselriis had done so. All issues regarding his waiting so long to register aside, Mayor Katz’s early election promises to prune trees, cut grass, clear snow and pick up litter are, to put it mildly, uninspiring. I’d be willing to grant Katz the benefit of the doubt for a more-than lacklustre half-term in office thusfar, preferring to save the big promises for an election for a full four-year term, but, not surprisingly on my part, Katz is preferring to stick to the basics then, and is preferring to stick to the basics now. For a politician who wants the city—Winnipeg—under his charge to be a vibrant city that attracts young people”, he’s going to have to do more than ensure basic civic services are met to not only attract new young, ostensibly educated and creative, people, but to keep its own creative, educated young people.

Where’s the long-term vision for an exciting city that is not merely a place to grow up in and move on from; for a city that will grow sustainably, smartly and in a way that is attractive to not only its often loyal residents but to those from elsewhere. As one of those young people who has grown up in this city, I am seriously doubting Winnipeg’s future at this point, and especially my future here. I don’t want a city whose mayor’s first priorities are to provide basic services—I can get that anywhere—but a city where the leadership from the top on down gives some civic inspiration for its residents. For a mayor who has a separate “Youth” page on his website, I’m not sure who of my peers Sam is listening to. But listening to those who have actually seen what cities can be—what Winnipeg can be—might upset the city’s large Lowest Common Denominator population from where Sam seems to draw a lot of his supporters. He may have won in a landslide in 2004 based on his name, but there’s thankfully a growing body of public sentiment that’s beginning to think otherwise. And they’ve now got a mayoral candidate to thinks he can lead them—one of those creative, educated and enthusiastic young people who will make people who truly care for a vital urban centre take take a close look at in Kaj Hasselriis. Look him up and compare the election platforms: who has the more interesting, creative and forward-thinking ideas, leading to a better Winnipeg in the long run?

Sam, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do with Kaj, not least of which is catching up with the city’s most valuable asset, the younger and forward-thinking people who really will have a say in how this city grows into the future. Unless, of course, we have too many more years of visionless leadership.

(note: This is not a direct endorsement of Kaj Hasselriis per se – official platforms, debates and discussions have yet to be revealed and proceeded with, but first impressions do count, especially in love and politics.)



  1. This is no longer a 2 person race–it is 5. People are conditioned to look to television, radio, and print media for insight. This multimedia “fun-house of mirrors” combines sensationalism with the lowest common demoninator to produce docu-drama, with profit and marketshare being the prevailing influences.

    One must look beyond multimedia to discover truth; otherwise we are doomed to become a society of programmed bobbleheads. Consider the following:

    FAQ’s of Mayoralty Candidate Gordon Warren

    1. You say the North End will not come alive without the helping hand of the First Nations people. Why focus on the First Nations people and why did you write an open letter to them saying that you wanted to bulldoze the North end?

    Sadly, First Nations people are the ones most often left out of the political decision making process. Consequently, many have withdrawn from society and have stagnated as a people when they once flourished. The open letter was designed to free imaginations that had been imprisoned by the hopelessness of their circumstance. Once people see beyond their circumstance, their imaginations are free to explore the possibilities that are available to them through the Spirited Energy movement. The people I spoke to in the North end understood the purpose of this exercise. It was the media and those outside the North end that took the “bulldozing” suggestion literally. It is my hope that through this campaign, all imaginations that are imprisoned by their circumstance will be freed by the Spirited Energy movement.

    2. You say you want to continue the Spirited Energy movement in our city, starting with the North End. Clearly, for the average citizen, describe what you believe the Spirited Energy movement is.

    The Spirited Energy movement is the invitation to all people from all cultures to join in community for the common good, as we did and continue to do at the Forks. If 9/11 has taught us anything, it is either all of us or none of us who will go forward in this world. I want to see the spirited energy we experience at the Forks grow throughout Winnipeg and beyond.

    3. If you are not going to physically “bulldoze” the area, then what specifically is your plan to bring the North end alive?

    I don’t have “the plan.” The plan will be realized by the awakened imaginations of the North End. For example, I was invited to a block party that took place on Boyd Avenue. It was like a mini-Folklorama for neighbours in the area–many who had not met previously. Child-focused activities exposed young children to the spirited energy I mentioned earlier. People I have spoken to see community centres as an important catalyst for positive change. As mayor, I would direct resources to these centres and would encourage an ongoing dialogue with residents to facilitate positive growth in the North end.

    4. People in Winnipeg will want to know how you plan to unleash this “Spirited Energy” What tangible
    information can you give them to convince them you are the leader that can make it happen?

    ’The Spirited Energy in Action’ platform will make that clear. It is a win-win for everybody. My knowledge of economics and group dynamics enabled me to do something other planners have failed to do–create a functional, economically sound taxation system that addresses the needs of all people without hindering the open-market economy.

    5. Being a mayor means being a leader and speaking on behalf of citizens. How would you lead the citizens of Winnipeg?

    Should the Spirited Energy movement prevail on October 25, I will lead how I have always led–by example. My primary leadership roles as mayor would be to function as a facilitator and goodwill ambassador rather than as an instructor, per se. Policy changes endorsed by the voters and city council will provide Winnipeg and other cities with a paradigm for functionality in the 21st century.

    Our Mandate: To create a functional, economically sound taxation system that addresses the needs of Winnipeg’s citizens without hindering the open-market economy.

    The Plan:

    •Eliminate property, business, and amusement taxes in favour of an infrastructure maintenance tax. The mayor will instruct councilors in each ward to gather information from his/her constituents regarding their desired preferences vis-a-vis the quality and quantity of infrastructure maintenance.
    •Supplement the healthcare system with alternative health practitioners that will be compensated in a similar way that M.D.s are.
    •Implement fast-track accreditation programs for immigrant professionals.
    •Introduce low-cost on-line courses that are accessible to all and can be put towards undergraduate degrees and diplomas.
    •Amalgamate Police, Fire, and Paramedic services and streamline these by having key administrators oversee the transition. There will be an increased use of street patrols, video equipment, and neighbourhood watches to provide city-wide coverage.
    •Empower street patrols to issue tickets to anyone giving panhandlers money. Issue “busker” licenses to qualified performers.
    •City administrators will ensure that all contracted services (e.g. snow & garbage removal, & street cleaning) will have clearly mandated standards & practices (e.g. public areas will be cleared before private ones), with the city being compensated for poor performance.
    • Begin transition to eco-friendly bus transportation and a rapid transit system. Decrease fares to encourage regular use.
    •Charge commuters from satellite communities an entry toll via license plate photos as they enter the city to ensure they are paying their fair share of infrastructure maintenance.
    •Award companies and institutions that achieve cartel or monopoly status. Adjust the fees they charge to open-market values and ensure that expenses are not passed down to consumers.
    •Offer “good-will” opportunities to these champions of capitalism in the form of city/life enhancing not-for-profit ventures.
    •Some of these might include:
    oCleaning up the city’s rivers
    oIncreasing “green-space” within city limits.
    o Building community centres and workshops in the inner city
    o Building more recreation centres like skateboard parks, rock climbing walls, and wavepools
    o Supplementing library resources
    o Restoring historical buildings
    o Supporting the arts, cultural, and science communities
    o Bringing back the Winnipeg Jets
    o Purchasing the Blue Bombers from the city
    o Creating a state of the art recycling system that offers free shuttle service to and from waste sites. Recyclables returned for deposit by interested citizens would be considered “windfall,” and would therefore be non-taxable.
    o Perhaps you have a few suggestions? Let us know.

    Other Candidates are banking on multi-media and self-promotion to win the mayor’s chair. I am relying on the Spirited Energy movement and the citizens of Winnipeg. We’ll see who is successful on Oct. 25.

    Gordon Warren
    Mayoralty Candidate

  2. I agree it’s a five-person race. However, at the time of the original post – August 4 – there were only three candidates, Sam, Kaj and Ron Pollock, only two of whom had information readily available for comparision (Ron Pollock still doesn’t seem to have a website up, if I’m mistaken, please correct me).

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