Winnipeg mayoral hopeful Jenny Motkaluk stresses value of working together at campaign kickoff

The runner-up in Winnipeg’s last civic election kicked off her second attempt to become mayor on Wednesday night.

Business consultant and mayoral hopeful Jenny Motkaluk strolled to a podium through a crowd of supporters at Canad Inns Polo Park while the 2000 Britney Spears hit Oops!… I Did It Again played from the speakers.

“The job of leader is first to bring people together by reflecting our shared values and then to encourage and empower us to do great things together,” said Motkaluk.

“I think [Winnipeggers] are best described as a big, boisterous, spirited, powerful family that when we work together does truly amazing things.”

Motkaluk captured 36 per cent of the popular vote in 2018, losing to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who received 53 per cent. The outgoing 43rd mayor of the city first elected in 2014 will not be seeking a third term.

Motkaluk doesn’t plan to present as many policies as she did while running her campaign four years ago. Instead, she says she wants to focus on introducing herself to Winnipeggers.

To that end, Motkaluk spoke at length about the importance of family and working together.

Jenny Motkaluk address supporters at her Winnipeg mayoral campaign kickoff event on Wednesday night. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

She said she is the third of eight children. Her mother left when she was 10, leaving her father to raise the remaining six children who still lived at home, she said.

“We lost our family home and everything, our whole life just turned upside down. But we came through that … and we did it by banding together,” Motkaluk said. “In those difficult years I sure learned the value of working together, and that’s what grounds me in this belief that we can work together.”

She gestured to a jade brooch given to her by her friend’s mother, who died of cancer this year, and recalled how the woman loaned her money to finish post-secondary schooling years ago. 

“I paid her back but I have always remembered this woman’s dedication, hard work and taking care of others and how those values made it possible for me to achieve my goal,” said Motkaluk.

3 goals of campaign

Though policy details were scant, Motkaluk highlighted three broad goals, including encouraging growth and investment in Winnipeg businesses, community spaces and housing.

“It means considering how taxes and user fees can impact the viability of a project, it means infrastructure that supports investment and it means doing the things that we can do today, as fast as we can, so that we can help people make a decision to invest in and grow our city,” she said. 

The second goal is to deliver “effective and efficient services” with respect to garbage pickup, snow clearing, transit and roads.

Thirdly, Motkaluk hopes to “celebrate all that Winnipeg is” through investments in arts, sports and parks.

“Life isn’t just about hard work and making money,” she said. “Life is about joy and family and art and sport and achievements and invention and innovation, and so as mayor of Winnipeg I will make it a priority to celebrate all that Winnipeg offers.”

‘Goals without metrics are meaningless’

She also underscored the role of city council in ensuring leaders remain accountable for their commitments.

“Goals without metrics are meaningless,” she said. 

WATCH | Motkaluk concedes 2018 mayoral election:

Jenny Motkaluk says mayoral race was ‘a truly humbling experience’

4 years ago

Duration 1:13

‘You reach a point where you know, with great certainty, that you’re not alone … and there are people behind you to catch you if you fall,’ Motkaluk, who lost the 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race to incumbent Brian Bowman, said in an emotional speech Wednesday night.

Motkaluk said one of the most important lessons she learned after her failed 2018 bid was “the value of a diverse team.”

Speakers on Wednesday night included Kathy Knight, former CEO of Tech Manitoba; Raj Seh, a member of the Sikh community who owns an appliance store on Selkirk Avenue;  Aaron McDowell, who currently works for Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) but has also been an organizer for the NDP; and Bonnie Mitchelson, a former Progressive Conservative MLA of more than 30 years

There are eight people running for mayor already, including sitting St James city Coun. Scott Gillingham, former Liberal member of parliament Robert-Falcon Ouellette and business owners Rick Shone and Shaun Loney.

Don Woodstock, who owns a security business, is also running for the second time (he finished fourth in 2018). Chris Clacio is running again also. He registered for the election four years ago but did not appear on the ballot.

The Winnipeg civic election takes place Oct. 26.