Former mayor Glen Murray to return to Winnipeg to work with software firm

Former mayor Glen Murray is moving back to Winnipeg after spending 14 years away, mostly in Toronto.

Ex-mayor endorses Brian Bowman's re-election run, pledges unrelenting support for reopening Portage and Main

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is returning to the city to work for a software company. Murray is endorsing Brian Bowman's re-election campaign. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Former mayor Glen Murray is moving back to Winnipeg after 14 years away, most of them in Toronto.

Murray, who served as Winnipeg's mayor from 1998 to 2004, capped off a speech in front of a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce audience on Wednesday morning by announcing he intends to return to the city and work for an Exchange District software company called Emerge Knowledge.

"I really want to come back. My friends are here. This has really been my city for a very long time. All of us who have been mayors and premiers usually end up in exile for a period time," the 60-year-old said following his speech at the Fort Garry Hotel.

"All of us are waiting for that day when there's an opportunity to come back."

Murray was a member of Winnipeg's city council for 15 years, serving first as a Fort Rouge ward councillor before winning two terms as mayor.

Ontario politics

He abbreviated his second term in 2004, when he chose to run for federal office in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia as a Liberal. His defeat at the hands of Steven Fletcher necessitated a move to Toronto.

He wound up in Ontario provincial politics, serving as Liberal MPP for Toronto Centre from 2010 until 2017 and holding five different cabinet positions under premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. 

Murray served seven years as a Liberal MPP in Ontario, holding five cabinet positions. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Earlier this year, former Caledon, Ont., mayor Marolyn Morrison told the Globe and Mail Murray pressured her to support a residential development near her town in 2013 but she refused. Murray was the Liberal infrastructure minister at the time.

The allegation led the Ontario NDP to ask the provincial integrity commissioner to investigate the meeting between Murray and the former Caledon mayor, the Globe reported.

Murray said he doesn't remember that meeting the way Morrison did.

"My recollection of that meeting is we had some disagreements but it was a pretty pleasant meeting," Murray said. "I had one meeting with her. It didn't stand out as memorable."

Portage and Main 'holding back investment'

After resigning from public office in 2017, Murray went to work for an Alberta think tank.

He says he'll now be working on business development for Emerge Knowledge, which develops software that helps government agencies track recycling and garbage-collection data.

Murray said as a Winnipegger, he will be "an unrelenting advocate" for reopening the Portage and Main intersection to pedestrians and urged the chamber audience to support incumbent mayoral candidate Brian Bowman's position on the intersection.

"It's holding back investment in this city," said Murray, referring the absence of development adjacent the intersection, including a surface parking lot on Main Street just north of the 201 Portage Ave. office tower.

Glen Murray, who served as Winnipeg's mayor from 1998 to 2004, says keeping the barriers up at Portage and Main is 'holding back investment in the city.' 0:51

Murray also said visitors to Winnipeg complain Portage and Main is "butt ugly" and doesn't allow them easy pedestrian access to Shaw Park, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, The Forks, the Exchange District and performing arts venues.

"There's destinations on either side of that intersection which weren't there before, so now you're getting a lot of people saying, 'What the heck?'" Murray said. 

Vote Open spokesperson Adam Dooley welcomed Murray's support for reopening the intersection.

"The barriers that we have at Portage and Main are depressing the economy," said Dooley, adding reopening the intersection would improve the city's tax base and benefit all taxpayers.

Bowman 'now showing some vision'

Murray also praised Bowman's work in office and endorsed the incumbent's re-election campaign.

"For someone to get elected with virtually, actually no political experience and get thrown into to having to fix what was broken is a lot of work, and I think he's now showing some vision," Murray said.

Bowman's campaign accepted the endorsement.

"I certainly appreciate the discussions I have had with Glen over the past number of years, and I am humbled that he sees my vision as the way forward for Winnipeg," the incumbent mayor said in a statement.

Murray insisted he has no interest in a political run of his own in Manitoba, at any level of government.

"I really, really, really like the idea of going out to the pub with my friends for a beer at the end of the day and going to a Jets game and not having to go out when you are mayor or a politician every single night of the week," he said.

Former mayor Glen Murray is moving back to Winnipeg, and he's already involved in politics. Just not in the way you might think. 2:10

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.