Winnipeg councillor sets sights on legislature
A longtime Winnipeg city councillor is hoping to jump into provincial politics.
Gord Steeves, who was first elected to council in 2000, representing the St. Vital ward, is seeking the Conservative nomination for the constituency of Seine River in the upcoming provincial election on Oct. 4.
He made the announcement during a conference Friday morning.
The Seine River seat has been held since 2003 by current NDP Health Minister Theresa Oswald.
Steeves tried once before to jump from municipal to provincial politics, running under the Liberal banner in 1995, but lost.
Steeves said he switched allegiances because the Liberals drifted too far to the left.
"My sense is that the Liberal party is set up really in lock-step with where the NDP is in a lot of ways, policy-wise, so for me to run for the Liberals would not make sense for me philosophically," he said.
If he wins the Conservative nomination Steeves will have to resign his council seat. It's expected that will happen because he will likely be unopposed as the party's candidate.
The constituency includes much of his city council ward, in which he captured 82 per cent of the vote in last year's municipal election.
The nomination process is expected to happen sometime in August or September.
The NDP was quick to target Steeves. Minutes before he confirmed his intentions, the New Democrat caucus issued a new release accusing Steeves of plotting to privatize government services.
The NDP pointed to a television interview in which he said the private sector might be able to provide better auto insurance than Manitoba Public Insurance, a government-run monopoly.
Steeves has a reputation as a pragmatic centrist — a fiscal conservative who has supported a long-running property tax freeze at city hall while also backing support for community projects, sports centres and French-language services.
The anticipated battle between Steeves and Oswald is expected to be one of several close races in Winnipeg's well-to-do suburbs. Most of the seats were Tory strongholds until the NDP took power in 1999.
Opinion polls this year have suggested the NDP is no longer well ahead of the Progressive Conservatives and the election on Oct. 4 will be a tight one.
With files from The Canadian Press