11 mayoral races to watch in 2014

Four provinces hold municipal elections over the next four weeks. Here's a look at a few of the interesting mayoral races. Manitobans vote today.

Municipal elections taking place this fall in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, and P.E.I.

Rob Ford of Toronto, far left, and Hazel McCallion of Mississauga, at the podium, two of Canada's most well-known mayors, will be leaving their mayor's office after elections on Oct. 27. Over the next four weeks, municipal elections take place across four provinces. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Voters in Manitoba go to the polls today to elect their municipal politicians for the next four years. Over the next four weeks, electors in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia will also head to the polling booths to choose new mayors and councillors.

Two big cities – Toronto and Mississauga – stand out more for who is not running this time (Rob Ford and the ageless  Hazel McCallion) rather than the actual candidates. In other cities, accusations of wrongdoing and, in some cases, sheer eloquence, are making the races interesting.

Here's election day in the four provinces:

  • Manitoba: Oct. 22
  • Ontario: Oct. 27
  • P.E.I.: Nov. 3
  • B.C.: Nov. 15

And here's 11 races to watch:

1. Winnipeg

With Sam Katz stepping down after 10 years as Winnipeg's mayor, former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis looked like she would be next to occupy the mayor's office.

However, the latest poll shows her two points behind lawyer Brian Bowman. In a previously published poll by the same media groups, Bowman trailed by 18 points.

Wasylycia-Leis, a Manitoba cabinet minister in the 1980s, was a federal MP from 2004 until 2010, when she lost to Katz in the mayor's race.

Mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette, "called Winnipeg a city divided by race, an image that became shorthand for a host of issues such as poverty and missing and murdered women that emerged unexpectedly as key issues in the race," writes Mary Agnes Welch in the Winnipeg Free Press. (Alana Cole/CBC)

The third-place candidate, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, is also attracting attention. A weekend profile in the Winnipeg Free Press is headlined "The most interesting man in the game."

For Ouellette, a Cree from Alberta who moved to Winnipeg just four years ago, his "charm and eloquence have impressed many at forums and debates, and his policy ideas have put him in league with the front-runners. But it's arguably his personal backstory — his stint in the military, his summer spent homeless and living in a tent, his five kids and his three advanced degrees — that have catapulted him beyond fringe status," writes Mary Agnes Welch in the Free Press.

2. Toronto

In a Vladimir Putin (Dmitry Medvedev)-style switcheroo, controversial Mayor Rob Ford pulled out of the race for mayor after being diagnosed with cancer and is standing for his old job on city council, while his brother Doug, the city councillor, is running for mayor.

Doug is one of 65 mayoral candidates, but there are only two other candidates considered serious contenders: Olivia Chow, wife of the late NDP leader Jack Layton and a former NDP MP herself; and John Tory, a former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

This is Tory's second try for the mayor's office, and this time the polls have him with a significant lead.

3. Mississauga

After 36 years in office, 93-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion is not seeking re-election. But she may be decisive in determining who will replace her. After initially saying she would remain neutral, McCallion came out in support of candidate Bonnie Crombie, a former Liberal MP.

Until then, Crombie had been narrowly trailing Steve Mahoney, also a former Liberal MP, but in a poll released last week, Crombie had a 25-point lead.

Mahoney, meanwhile, is "getting most of the city's A-list political endorsements," the Toronto Star reported Monday.

The Star says Crombie and Mahoney have "almost identical platforms," except for a small difference on transportation.

4. Billings township, Ont.

Another long-serving mayor, Billings township's Austin Hunt, is seeking re-election. Billings, population 506, is on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.

Hunt is Canada's longest serving municipal politician in Canada, according to The Manitoulin Expositor, an island newspaper.

Hunt was born in 1925, worked for future prime minister Lester Pearson when he was the local MP and then ran for council when the sitting councillor, his uncle, died halfway through his one-year term. That was 1953 and Hunt's been serving ever since, about half the time as mayor.

"It wasn't planned, it just happened," Hunt told CBC News. He faces two challengers for the mayor's job.

5. Brampton,Ont.

Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell is in third place in the latest poll. Last month, Brampton's integrity commissioner reported that the mayor had been "knowingly over-spending on her business travel on multiple occasions." (CBC)

Susan Fennell, Brampton's mayor since 2000, is seeking her fifth term. But she is running a distant third in the latest poll, behind former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Linda Jeffrey and sitting councillor John Sanderson.

In August, a forensic audit alleged Fennell’s office had racked up a total of $130,000 in recent years in expenses that violated city policy. Then in September, Brampton's integrity commissioner reported that the mayor had been "knowingly over-spending on her business travel on multiple occasions."

6. Woolwich, Ont.

In Woolwich, in Ontario's Waterloo Region, first-term mayor Todd Cowan is seeking re-election during an ongoing Ontario Provincial Police investigation into allegations Cowan double-billed for a little over $3,000 in expenses on 15 occasions.

Cowan faces three challengers.

7. Waterloo, Ont.

In Waterloo, Mayor Brenda Halloran is not running and the race is said to be a three-way battle between former TV weatherman Dave MacDonald, former BlackBerry executive Dave Jaworsky and defence lawyer Erika Traub.

Businessman Rami Said is also in the race.

MacDonald, "a local celebrity for decades," according to the Waterloo Record, was on the air at CTV Kitchener for 42 years. He wants to stop light rail transit plans for the area, which the other candidates support.

8. Elliot Lake, Ont.

This race will be watched to see what ballot box impact the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in 2012 and its aftermath have had.

Collapsed rubble is seen at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapsed. An inquiry report on the collapse released last week is critical of the mayor and city council. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The Elliot Lake commission released its inquiry report last week and it's critical of the mayor and city council, and city building inspectors, among others. The report says they ignored public complaints and warnings about the leaks and falling concrete, illegally shut the public out of meetings and failed to enforce their own bylaws.

"The institutional and legal relationship between organizations meant to advance the public good operated to disenfranchise the city’s electorate and may have led to tolerating unacceptable conditions at the mall. Secrecy and confidentiality often trumped candour, transparency and openness," wrote commissioner Justice Paul Belanger.

Mayor Rick Hamilton is seeking a third term in office. Among his opponents are two current city councillors, Al Collett and Tom Farquhar.

9. Summerside, P.E.I.

Basil Stewart, Summerside's mayor since 1985, may be facing his first significant challenge in a long time from businessman Bill Martin, owner of the Water Street Bakery and Deli. If he wins again, Stewart, a former policeman, says it will be his last term as mayor.

10. Surrey, B.C.

While there's something of a trend elsewhere in Canada of former MPs running for mayor, in Surrey, Mayor Dianne Watts plans to be a Conservative candidate for MP in 2015.

In what CBC News is calling "one of the hottest civic election races in B.C.," six candidates are vying to replace her as mayor of B.C.'s second largest city. They include Doug McCallum, who Watts defeated in 2005. The candidate from the party Watts founded, Surrey First, is councillor Linda Hepner. Barinder Rasode, a councillor who used to be with Surrey First, is also running for mayor.

One polling company reported Monday that Hepner led McCallum 40 per cent to 33 per cent. Last week a different polling company, with a larger sample size, reported that McCallum was in the lead, 40 to 32 per cent.

11. Burnaby, B.C.

The Burnaby mayoral race received national attention last week when the City of Burnaby website posted candidate Sylvia Gung's profile, in which she says she wants to ban the "bridal kiss and walking hand in hand" in public because they "hurt public decorum and lead to further violence."

This is the second time Gung has run against Derek Corrigan, the mayor since 2002. In 2010 she finished last, with 850 votes. In her profile Gung says she also wants to ban the election campaign.