Stupid questions for smart candidates: 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race edition

It's time to subject the two most popular Winnipeg mayoral candidates to a series of pop-culture and lifestyle questions — not to test their knowledge, but as a means of revealing their personalities.

It's not what they answer, it's how they answer questions about pop culture and their personal lives

Mayoral candidates Brian Bowman and Jenny Motkaluk subjected themselves to questions about pop culture and their personal lives. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

By many accounts, the 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race has been a little wacky.

Candidate Ed Ackerman has drawn doodles at debates and proposed to pay Winnipeggers to visit the North End. Candidate Don Woodstock has toted a football as a prop and promised to prevent senior city bureaucrats from sleeping with their underlings.

Candidate Venkat Machiraju was arrested for the alleged violation of a protection order. Candidate Doug Wilson has not made a policy pledge since May. 

Candidate Umar Hayat has endeared himself to voters mostly by smiling and waving. Candidate Tim Diack has built a campaign almost entirely on a pledge to deal with crime.

Brian Bowman, who's running for re-election, and challenger Jenny Motkaluk have mounted more conventional, serious campaigns. Their policy pledges have been reported for months.

Now, it's time to subject the two most popular candidates to a series of pop-culture and lifestyle questions — not to test their knowledge, but as a means of revealing their personalities.

Brian Bowman and Jenny Motkaluk answer pop culture, personal questions. 5:17

How they answer is more important than what they answer.

Should city councillors be allowed to play Fortnite?

Brian Bowman: Yes on their personal devices, but not on city-purchased [devices].

Jenny Motkaluk: Is that a game? I don't know what Fortnite is. If it's a game, I'm going to go with yes and they should be allowed to play.

How do you train a demogorgon?

Bowman: How do you? Pass.

Motkaluk: Is that like a dragon? Because there's a movie like that. [My daughter] Emily and I really enjoy it. If it's like training a puppy, then you reward the good behaviour and I think that that's true in training puppies and encouraging citizens to engage in the behaviour that we want.

Brian Bowman says councillors can play the video game Fortnite on their own devices. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Is it in fact better to call Saul?

Bowman: Saul or Sel? 

Motkaluk: That lawyer, from the show Breaking Bad? You know what, I binge-watched that a year or two ago and I really enjoyed it. Is it better or worse to call Saul? Sometimes it's better to just be on board.

Would you let Cardi B come to your Halloween party?

Bowman: No, because I don't know who Cardi B is.

Motkaluk: Cardi B is not somebody that I know but that said, usually when I have parties I'm pretty inclusive and I like to get to know new people. 

What was your first concert?

Bowman: David Bowie at the old stadium. Georgia Satellites were there. I think Duran Duran opened for them. It was the Glass Spider [tour]. It was OK.

Motkaluk: My first concert was at the Winnipeg concert hall when I was little. Tammy Wynette came to town and my dad took all of us. It's amazing, I remember it so distinctly. She had this beautiful dress and at one point in the show she came off the stage and she was actually walking up the aisle. That was a really, really beautiful experience for me.

Jenny Motkaluk isn't sure who recording artist Cardi B is, but she's welcome to come over for Halloween. (Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press)

How did you feel when Thanos snapped his fingers?

Bowman: I was pretty sad. I'm convinced Dr. Strange, they're going to be able to reverse it and go back in time, but I was pretty bummed out at the time.

Motkaluk: I probably felt the same as I do right now, which is to say it didn't impact me much.

What was the last movie you didn't finish and why?

Bowman: It was the latest Thor movie and it was bedtime for the kids. I'm planning to watch the second half in the next week or two.

Motkaluk: The last one that I turned on on Netflix. I can't even remember what it is right now because it's been so busy over the course of the campaign. I like romcoms. I like light stuff. My husband and I conflict all the time; we rarely watch movies and TV together.

What was the last book you read?

Bowman: I'm reading Rick Hansen's book right now.

Motkaluk: I re-read Master and Commander, the tales of Lucky Jack Aubrey. They're these wonderful stories about the British navy in the days of the sailing ships. There was this sea captain called Lucky Jack. He's a hero and I sometimes look forward to finding him in my bed at night. 

Bowman, a lawyer by trade, may be more likely to call Point Douglas community activist Sel Burrows than TV's Saul Goodman, above. (Ursula Coyote/AMC/Associated Press)

What was the last play you saw?

Bowman: It would have been MTC last year. I can't remember the name.

Motkaluk: I saw one at the MTC recently. Was it Fiddler? There was the Christmas concert at school.

What's your idea of comfort food?

Bowman: Spaghetti.

Motkaluk: I'm Eastern European, Ukrainian background, and so my idea of comfort food is pretty basic cooking, right? Perogies, gravy, cabbage rolls, turkey.

Name three pizza toppings you won't order and why.

Bowman: Mushrooms, because they're a fungus. I'm not a fan of mushrooms. Let's see … banana peppers. And heavy cheese, 'cause I'm lactose intolerant.

Motkaluk: Anchovies, olives and onions, because I don't like those things.

Bowman was bummed out by what Josh Brolin's Thanos, above, was able to accomplish in the latest Avengers movie. Hey, at least Thanos got things done. (Marvel Studios)

Who should play centre alongside Patrik Laine?

Bowman: I like Little. I'd to see Scheifele and him one day, together. I know they're playing around with it.

Motkaluk: That should be my nephew Tommy. He actually got to skate with the Jets a couple of weeks ago and it was such an exciting day for our whole family.

Why haven't the Bombers won a Grey Cup since 1990?

Bowman: If I had the answer to that, they'd win. They're going to win. I honestly couldn't tell you. I'm not sure. It's far, far too long, as you know.

Motkaluk: They have to throw and catch a little bit better than they do. You can not win the football game if you don't catch the football in the end zone. So if I was coach of the Bombers, my recommendation to them would be doing a much better job of completing their passes. 

What are your pets and what are their names?

Bowman: Indiana is our dog and we have fish, as well. My son is in the process of naming them. One of them was named Rocky. One is Clubber Lang. 

Motkaluk: I don't have a pet anymore, but I used to have this dog named Jack. He was a brown and white dog with floppy ears, who liked to swim. He was my post-divorce dog in Vancouver and he came home to Winnipeg with me in 2007. For a long time, Jack and I were just a team.  

Bowman would like to see Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, above, on a line with centre Mark Scheifele. Motkaluk would prefer to see her nephew Tommy on that line. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

What is the assessed value of your home?

Bowman: Probably around $300,000.

Motkaluk: Something like $600,000-ish, $650,000.

How many cars do you own and what are they?

Bowman: We have two. We have a minivan and we have a truck — a Honda Ridgeline, Honda Odyssey.

Motkaluk: I have a mom mobile. It is a Subaru Forester with a hatchback and there's lots of room for all the gear. [Her husband Trevor] has a Cadillac. It's actually a nine-year-old Cadillac. I've been begging him to replace it for the last two years.

What charity has received the most of your money and why?

Bowman: United Way. I've helped out with the United Way over many years and I've seen the impact they make in the community, especially over the last four years with a number of the agencies they benefit from. Ka Ni Kanichihk is an organization I helped out with and I know they receive money from the United Way.

Motkaluk: This year the charity that is receiving our largest contribution is the Santa Claus Parade. I can't believe we've never transformed the Santa Claus Parade into a national spectacle and if I'm the mayor of Winnipeg, we're going to do just that. 

Brian Bowman opened Winnipeg's downtown dog park with his doodle, Indiana, right, lower to the ground. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

What did you do on your first date with your spouse?

Bowman: I had her at my house. I cooked for her and we watched When Harry Met Sally. She hadn't seen it yet. It was a long time ago. I had to kick my parents out, because I was still living at home. I mean it was back when I was in undergrad.

Motkaluk: I met him at a cocktail party. There were a lot of people there. The next day I got an email from someone, saying how nice it had been to meet me and asking if I'd like to have dinner on Saturday night. I had no idea who this note was from. My little sister Molly was living with me at the time in my yellow house on Scotia Street. I said, "I don't know what to do," and Molly reminded me that I have a rule, which is that I always accept a first date. And the reason you always accept a first date is there are only two outcomes: you either have a really good time or you have a really good story. Both of those have a lot of value. So I accepted the date and Trevor came and picked me up and he took me to dinner [at 529 Wellington].

Where did you go the last time you took a holiday outside the country?

Bowman: Probably Fargo. I think it was this year, for the run. We go most years to do the run.

Motkaluk: Last year, we did a cruise in northern Europe. We visited St. Petersburg and a bunch of Baltic countries. One of my two really great experiences from that was being able to bring [her daughter] Emily to visit some of our extended family in St. Petersburg. And the second thing which was great and I really highly recommend to everybody was a real sauna in Finland. We went to one where the cold tub was actually the Baltic Sea.

Jenny Motkaluk shares a moment with her dog, Jack, in 2006. (Submitted by Jenny Motkaluk)

What was the last thing that really made you laugh?

Bowman: Probably this morning, around the kitchen table. I made porridge for [the kids] and they were being really silly with their voices.

Motkaluk: Last night's debate. It cracked me right up. I find Mr. Hayat very entertaining. There was a moment during the debate where he was pacing a lot and luckily he was standing in front of me.

Say one nice thing about Brian Bowman/Jenny Motkaluk as a human being, not a politician.

Bowman: I've only met her a couple of times, but I really mean it, it's not an easy thing to put your name on a ballot.

Motkaluk: I have a lot of nice things to say about Brian Bowman, so I do want to be clear about that. Just because I don't think he's a good mayor doesn't mean that I don't think he's a great guy. I know him. Trevor's known him for 20 years. Winnipeg's a small town. We know each other here, right? He's super good-looking. He's much more handsome than I am. He has a great smile and he's done a great job at his ceremonial role.

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.