Former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray says he’s taking another trip to his old job.
Murray announced Wednesday afternoon that he is running for mayor in this fall’s Winnipeg local election, after submitting the paperwork to register his campaign at City Hall.
“I love this city. We’ll get things done quickly,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We want to return to the kind of partnerships that made us so proud of our city.”
Murray was mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004, when he resigned to run for the Federal Liberal Party.
He lost that race but was elected a Liberal member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament in 2011, holding various cabinet posts until he briefly left politics in 2017.
In 2020, Murray ran to replace Elizabeth May as leader of the Federal Green Party, but lost.
The city has ‘huge challenges’
Murray said that since moving back to Winnipeg a few years ago to work in the private sector, he has been struck by how difficult it is to get development going, the city’s crumbling infrastructure, and how much the city’s most vulnerable struggling.
“This city has some huge challenges. They are on a scale of challenges when I was elected mayor for the first time,” he said.
“I’ve never had more experience in my entire life. I’m far more qualified to do this job than when I was young and did it the first time.”
Asked why he would not stay in the private sector and work there to improve the city, he said he believes major changes are needed at the municipal level.
“There’s a real frustration in the private sector that there really needs to be changes in the public sector so we can get back to business in the city,” he said.
Murray says he did not make the decision to run and consulted with a number of people to run for mayor before taking the plunge.
He said he will outline his platform at a later date.
‘High profile’ challenge for other candidates
In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, Murray suggested that he was able to solve some financial problems during his time as mayor.
Aaron Moore takes issue with some of these comments.
“I think his decision to freeze property taxes for several years is part of the reason we’re in the fiscal situation we are in, “said Moore, a professor of political science at the University of Winnipeg focusing on local government policy.
“I think to suggest that he did some fiscal magic as mayor, and that he should now come and repair it again, is in a way to ignore the contribution he made to the problem.”
Moore also believes that many still think highly of Murray. He characterized him as both quite moderate or progressive, depending on the problem. Murray’s property tax freeze, for example, was a tax-conservative move, Moore said.
The fact that he left Manitoba could inspire some degree of skepticism among some voters, Moore said, though he also believes Murray could make life tougher for some competitors.
“With such a high profile as Glen Murray running in the race, it could cause some of the other candidates to reconsider their chances of winning,” he said.
Winnipeg must move forward, rivals say
Murray is now the 11th person to register a mayoral campaign for Winnipeg’s election on October 26.
That other 10 candidates is Idris Adelakun, Chris Clacio, Rana Bokhari, Scott Gillingham, Shaun Loney, Jenny Motkaluk, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rick Shone, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock.
After Murray announced his race, Shone said in a statement that Winnipeg needs to “look ahead” and “is at a crossroads” in terms of infrastructure, debt, homelessness, transit, public safety and affordability.
He accused Murray of abandoning the Winnipeggers in 2004 and of leaving his job as mayor unfinished.
“I’m not a career politician, I’m a father of two, a small business owner, volunteering in the community and I love my home. I’m excited about our future. Now is not the time to look back,” Shone’s written statement said.
“We do not need a mayor who is more interested in being a star on the national stage.”
As for Murray’s proposal on concerns about the city’s financial position, his rival Gillingham, currently councilor for St. James and until recently chairman of the city’s finance committeesaid “there is still money in the bank” after a $ 220 million hit from the pandemic.
“[There was] no incremental help through it from the province of Manitoba. We kept our credit rating … so we’ve done a really good job, “he said after Murray’s announcement.
Gillingham said his focus in his mayoral campaign is to communicate a vision for Winnipeg, “that is exciting and realistic and achievable and moves the city forward.”
“Glen was … away from Winnipeg for almost 20 years,” Gillingham said.
“I’ve been here with my hand at the wheel and headed through all this, and then I’m ready to step into the leadership of the mayoral post.”