Pharmacist fined for professional misconduct challenges incumbent in Old Kildonan race
Pharmacist Kaur Sidhu was fined in 2012 for diverting patients to his new business
One of three candidates running to represent Old Kildonan at city hall says he has a shot at unseating the incumbent despite being fined for professional misconduct as a pharmacist.
"Everybody makes mistakes in life," Kaur Sidhu said campaigning near Mandalay Drive Tuesday.
"[The mistakes] taught me. They made me a better person, a hardworking person and more law abiding."
Sidhu paid approximately $20,000 after he was found guilty of professional misconduct in 2012 by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association.
He contacted patients to notify them he was moving from Zellers, which was on the brink of closing at the time, to a new pharmacy, where he held a business interest. The pharmaceutical association found that to be improper use of patient information.
He also transferred patients' prescriptions to his new pharmacy, the association found.
"That's what I did. I didn't force nobody but I did tell the people about my new location," he said, adding the rules about contacting patients had been "unclear" to him at the time.
'I have the experience,' says Sharma
Sidhu has a record of some support in northwest Winnipeg.
In the 2016 provincial election, he ran for the Progressive Conservatives in The Maples, where he lost to New Democrat candidate Mohinder Saran by just 127 votes.
While she was first elected to Old Kildonan in 2010, Devi Sharma's hold on the ward is not exactly a tight grip. In 2014, she won the ward by only 212 votes.
"The local councillor, Devi Sharma's office, has been very inaccessible to people's issues and concerns," Sidhu said.
Sharma disputes that. She said her office logs every call and email and that she and her staff hold extended hours on evenings and weekends to meet constituents.
"I have the experience. I have eight years on city council — I definitely know how things work there," said Sharma, who has also served as city hall's Speaker since 2013.
Sharma told CBC she isn't taking this election for granted — nor does she take any election for granted.
"I work hard in anything that I'm involved in. I always have," she said Tuesday at her campaign office on McPhillips Street.
2 candidates don't live in ward
Sharma questions how her challengers, Sidhu and Brad Gross, could represent the ward as well as her when they don't live in Old Kildonan.
Sidhu told CBC on Tuesday he lives in The Maples. However, his registration forms show he lives in Inkster Gardens, which is located in the Point Douglas ward.
"I think it's difficult when you are out of the ward to know what the issues are here and be engaged with the citizens that live here," said Sharma.
Gross, a realtor, lives in St. Boniface but grew up in the Old Kildonan area.
In 2010 he ran for mayor of Winnipeg and in 2014 he ran for city council in St. Boniface, where he came in third of four candidates, with 961 votes compared to Matt Allard's 15,355.
Gross said when he ran for mayor, he learned how hard it is to unseat an incumbent. He attributes his loss in St. Boniface to the fact he does not speak French.
"I think I have a pretty good chance," Gross said of his run for council in Old Kildonan, the area he said he would move back to in a "heartbeat."
"I think there's enough people that are upset so they are going to vote properly," he said.
All three candidates acknowledge a major topic of concern for residents in the area is the planned western extension of Chief Peguis Trail — a new stretch of roadway that helps complete an interior ring road in Winnipeg.
Both Gross and Sidhu say residents want to see the project accelerated. Sidhu said the extension is vital for both residential development and greater economic growth in the northern part of the city.
He blames Sharma for not being a bigger champion of the project.
Sharma introduced a motion in 2013 to have the project sped up but said at this point, the city is waiting on a report by administration on the project, which is due in the spring. She also said funding is still needed from the province and the federal government.