'I'm just Brian': Mayor-elect calls himself a real Winnipegger

Mayor-elect Brian Bowman promises to work hard and earn the confidence of Winnipeggers.
Mayor-elect Brian Bowman promises to work hard and earn the confidence of Winnipeggers. 1:54

Mayor-elect Brian Bowman promises to work hard and earn the confidence of Winnipeggers.

On Thursday, the morning after he was swept into office in a landslide victory, riding so-called Bowmentum and beating his closest rival, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, by more than 50,000 votes, Bowman said he's staying humble.

"I'm just Brian," he repeated a few times to CBC Information Radio host Marcy Markusa. "I feel very much like I'm a a real Winnipegger. I don't take myself too seriously."

Brian Bowman speaks with CBC Radio on Thursday morning at a Salisbury House Restaurant in St. Vital. (Donna Carreiro/CBC)
He said he's ready to represent all Winnipeggers, despite how people have tried to pigeonhole his political leanings.

"It's funny because during the campaign some people were saying I'm a hard-core right winger, and other people saying I'm a left winger. You know, I'm just Brian and what Winnipeggers aspire to do I'm right there with them," he said.

In the immediate wake of the win, he said he took "a lot of selfies" and made a lot of thank-yous to "a volunteer team that hit it out of the park."

Once he is sworn in, along with the rest of the council on Nov. 4, Bowman said it will be time to focus on the job.

"And the first thing is we need to get down to is the business of selecting the new CAO," he said.

Phil Sheegl, the former City of Winnipeg official who was a key figure in numerous land deals — including the controversial fire hall land swap — quit in October 2013.

Bowman has promised to repair the broken trust the public has with its civic officials.

"If there's one thing I want Winnipeggers to see right out of the gate, it's the shift in culture at city hall to one of much greater openness and transparency," he said.

"We've got a lot of work to do to restore Winnipegger's trust and confidence in city hall and I"m ready to get to work on that."

Message to the NDP?

Bowman's win should send a message to Broadway and the halls of the Manitoba legislative building, particularly Premier Greg Selinger, said political analyst Chris Adams.

He noted that Wasylycia-Leis's campaign was heavily backed by the NDP, with hundreds of volunteers working to get out the vote. And yet, it didn't work.

"Last night's victory for Brian Bowman is problematic for the provincial NDP, not because they can't work with Brian Bowman but the fact that the opposition was able to make Judy a branded — if I could use that term — old NDP," he said.

It's a point that Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister agreed with, saying the election results show "a message of dissatisfaction with the current NDP government" in the province.

"The implication was clear with Judy's campaign. She did not distance herself — nor could she — from her NDP background and her close connections to the provincial NDP. I think the message was at least in part that that was not helpful to her," Pallister told reporters.

"But I would also would say on the positive side, offering real alternative views that inspire Manitobans was something that the Bowman campaign did a good job of," he added.

 "Now the challenge, of course, is delivering on those positive views and making them a reality, and that is a challenge for anyone who runs an inspirational campaign as Brian did."

Selinger, who was scheduled to meet with Bowman on Thursday afternoon, pointed out that infrastructure had been identified as a key issue in the civic election — something that he says his government is working on improving, in partnership with the city.

"We know that some people felt jolted by the raising of the PST by one point, and I take responsibility for that. We also know that people were really looking for more investments in infrastructure, and that was a major theme in this election," Selinger told reporters.

 "So we're in a position where we could work more closely with the city to be able to advance that infrastructure agenda and provide good jobs for young people in Manitoba, and I'm looking forward to that opportunity."

Selinger suggested that reporters ask Wasylycia-Leis if she believes the NDP backing hurt her campaign.

Adams said the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives should take note on how Bowman played to the centre to win.