Mayor Brian Bowman is committed to taking the high, ethical road at Winnipeg City Hall.
It’s good policy but even better politics. As the RCMP investigate and justice officials consider charging former Mayor Sam Katz and his long-time friend and former Chief Administrative Officer Phil Sheegl in connection with an alleged kick-back scheme to renovate the new downtown police headquarters, Bowman sees an opportunity to put some Winnipeg developers in their place.
“He will no longer kiss the ring of certain people within that community,” a key Bowman staff member told me recently. “Why should he?”
The Mayor has made many enemies within the suburban home-building community. They see opportunity to back a candidate in the next civic election in the fall of 2018 to defeat Bowman. Incumbents have an advantage, especially in races where there are several candidates. But many of these folks are motivated because Bowman has been aloof and resolute in doing things differently at city hall.
“He doesn’t understand how things get done in this city,” said one long-time developer who spoke with the guarantee of not having his name used. “He has tainted a lot of good people in our business because of politics.”
True. Today’s move to call on the province to call a public inquiry is more about Bowman running against the ghost of Sam Katz in the next election. If, and it’s a big if, there are charges, Katz will fight them all the way. That would occur just in time for the 2018 civic election. Meantime the list of people being asked to consider running is starting to grow. More on that in the days ahead.