Susan Thompson Building a 'declaration of respect for all women'
City honours former mayor with permanent edifice
Former Winnipeg mayor Susan Thompson now has a permanent place at city hall.
Winnipeg renamed its administration building Thursday morning after Thompson, who served as mayor from 1992 to 1998 and remains the only woman to hold the city's highest honour.
"This is one of the most incredible honours of my life. There are not enough words that I can express to say my deep appreciation for this honour," Thompson said during a renaming ceremony in the courtyard at city hall.
"The statement you have now made by naming such a significant building after a woman is a declaration of recognition and respect for all women."
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To illustrate her point, Thompson singled out several former public servants in the courtyard audience who were the first women to serve in the roles: former Winnipeg chief administrative officer Gail Stephens, former city auditor Carol Bellringer and former community services director Ursula Stelman.
Thompson said few women served as Winnipeg department directors when she was first elected mayor and expressed pride that gender parity was achieved in the upper echelons of the public service during her time in office. That parity no longer exists, she remarked, urging officials to "get cracking."
Current Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman praised Thompson for her accomplishments during her time in office, including the 1998 change in governance that reduced the power of the public service and created the so-called strong mayor model.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, in a rare appearance at city hall, also honoured Thompson for the philanthropic work she conducted after she left public office.
Thompson was also praised for her leadership during crises, including the flood of the century in 1997 and the loss of the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96.
The return of the NHL in 2011 was a satisfying moment, she said.
"I spent 18 months of my life trying to save them, so as I said to [NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman when he walked out the door when we lost the Jets, I went, 'We'll be back.' So, sweet moment."