Point Douglas beat cop who previously ran for mayor joins St. James council race

A Point Douglas police officer who finished third in Winnipeg's 2018 mayoral race is running for a city council seat this year.

Tim Diack says he wants to make Winnipeg Transit safer and make police more efficient

A man in a suit stands at a podium, in front of a TV screen with a graphic reading "2018 mayoral debate."
Tim Diack is shown during CBC's Winnipeg mayoral debate in October 2018. He came in third in that race, and is running this year for the St. James council seat. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

A Point Douglas police officer who finished third in Winnipeg's last mayoral race is running for a city council seat this year.

Tim Diack, a beat officer who finished behind Brian Bowman and Jenny Motkaluk in the 2018 mayoral campaign, registered Friday to run for council in St. James.

There is no incumbent running in St. James this year because Coun. Scott Gillingham is running for mayor.

Diack, who attracted five per cent of the popular vote in the 2018 mayoral race, joins a crowded contest in St. James.

Four other candidates have a head start: former St. Charles councillor Shawn Dobson, cycling advocate Daevid Ramey, Art City artistic director Eddie Ayoub and retired businessperson Kelly Ryback, who has been campaigning in St. James since the spring.

Diack said improving safety on Winnipeg Transit and making the Winnipeg Police Service more efficient would be two of his top priorities.

"I've got a level of anger and frustration with the state of our city because I'm a cop and I've been one for 35 years," he said in an interview Friday, after he signed his paperwork at city hall. 

Diack said Winnipeggers should not be afraid to take the bus downtown and police should not be taking weeks to follow up on suspects in violent crime cases.

"I want us to start fixing a lot of these problems — not the big, huge grandiose ones, but the ones that we can fix as a team and city council, and we're long overdue for that kind of effort," he said.

Police chief needs councillors with 'common sense'

Diack said he is not concerned with anti-police sentiment that rose in prominence in 2020, when Winnipeg police officers shot and killed three Indigenous people within two weeks, and protests against police violence occurred in dozens of North American cities following the murder of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis.

He said some of the voices that initially called for police to be defunded have refined their objectives after some U.S. cities had uneven experiences with redirecting or reducing funding.

The problem in Winnipeg is the way police resources are deployed, he insisted, coupled with growing despair within the police service and the community.

"They say we're overpoliced. They say we're racist. They say we're draconian, for what that's worth, and nothing is further from the truth," Diack said.

"I wouldn't be jumping into this race if I didn't see [Winnipeg police Chief] Danny Smyth get lambasted by everyone for being deflated.

"I've known him for 35 years. He needs help. He needs some people on city council with some experience, some common sense, and some ability to call out other people who are, you know, not working for the benefit of the city."

Diack said some candidates for mayor are proposing impractical solutions. He criticized Glen Murray in particular for promising to ground the city's police helicopter.

"Stop making reckless comments, because the people who are impacted the most by some of them have no voice," Diack said of Murray.

"If you have a child that goes missing down by the river and the helicopter spots it, I know the guys in that unit, and part of their mandate as tactical flight officers is they're going to jump in that river right then and there and save that child."

Murray's campaign said in a statement it stands by the candidate's contention drones can replace helicopters at a lower cost.

Diack also said the police should provide media outlets with access to police radio signals, which are currently encrypted, so reporters have a better picture of police operations.

St. James is one of only seven council races that are competitive right now. As of Friday, there is only one candidate running for council in eight of 15 of Winnipeg's wards, though there will be a race in Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood once CJOB host Hal Anderson follows through on his promise to register in the city's westernmost ward.

The deadline to register and file nominations for council and mayoral races is Sept. 20. The municipal election is on Oct. 26.