Former mayor Glen Murray leads race to become Winnipeg's next mayor, Probe poll suggests

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is far and away the leading candidate to become the city's next mayor, a Probe Research poll suggests.

Murray the choice of 44% of respondents to July poll; Gillingham had 16% and Ouellette had 13%

A smiling man in a suit looks toward the camera, as photographers walk alongside him.
Glen Murray, here at his campaign launch in June, is the preferred choice of 44 per cent of decided Winnipeg voters, a Probe Research poll suggests. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is far and away the leading candidate to become the city's next mayor, a Probe Research survey suggests.

Murray, who served as Winnipeg's mayor from 1998 to 2004, is the preferred mayoral candidate of 44 per cent of decided voters who responded to the online Probe poll of 622 Winnipeg adults, done from July 14 to 25.

Murray had a sizable lead on the 11 other registered candidates, none of whom garnered more than 20 per cent support from decided voters in the Probe survey.

"The former mayor is in a strong position entering the next phase of the campaign. He benefits from a strong lead and the view his significant political experience matters," Probe Research said in the survey document.

Murray served one full term and part of a second term as mayor of Winnipeg before he resigned to run for federal office. He also served as an Ontario Liberal member of the Provincial Parliament and cabinet minister.

Murray said he's not taking his large lead for granted.

"I'm doing 10 or 12 events on weekends, seven to 12 during weekdays. We want to be the hardest working campaign," Murray said Thursday at The Forks.

Two-term St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham ranked second in the poll, attracting 16 per cent of decided voters who responded.

Former Winnipeg Centre Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette is running third, with 13 per cent.

"The current St. James councillor and the former Winnipeg Centre Liberal MP are the next leading contenders — but both have a long way to go before posing a significant threat to Murray's bid to become mayor again," Probe said.

No other candidate cracked double digits.

Business consultant Jenny Motkaluk, who got 38 per cent of the popular vote in the 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race, is running fourth, with eight per cent support, the Probe poll suggests.

Probe said Motkaluk "has key pockets of support but is dealing with strong negative views about her after she made comments criticizing The Forks for its Canada Day celebration plans."

Entrepreneur and author Shaun Loney, who was the first candidate to declare his intention to run in the race, is running fifth, with six per cent.

"Loney is seen as having good ideas, but suffers from a significant lack of name recognition — and may be losing support to Murray and (to a lesser extent) Ouellette," Probe said.

Former Manitoba Liberal Party leader and lawyer Rana Bokhari is in sixth place, with four per cent.

"Bokhari's accessible voter pool is relatively small," Probe said, adding that is "surprising given her tenure as the former provincial Liberal leader."

Rick Shone, who owns The Wilderness Supply, was supported by three per cent of respondents to the poll.

Security company owner Don Woodstock, food-delivery driver Jessica Peebles and 2018 mayoral-race registrant Desmond Thomas got two per cent each. 

Grocery worker Chris Clacio and engineer Idris Adelakun attracted one per cent each.

Murray lead substantial, not insurmountable

Probe Research partner Mary Agnes Welch said Murray's lead over all other candidates is substantial three months before the civic election. She also described the former mayor's support as very broad.

"Right now, he has support among critical pools of voters. Women, older people — who vote! — and sort of those southern suburbs of Winnipeg. He already has inroads in those really critical voting blocs," Welch said outside Probe's downtown Winnipeg office.

She also noted Murray's lead is not insurmountable. In the 2014 Winnipeg mayoral race, former NDP MLA and MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis had a large lead over the summer but wound up losing to Brian Bowman on election day.

Gillingham said he is not concerned about Murray's lead right now.

"Three months out is a long way to go before election day," he said outside city hall. "Mr. Murray has name recognition. We understand that  He was advertising while the poll was being conducted."

St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham is second in the Probe poll, with 16 per cent support. (CBC)

Probe Research also asked survey respondents how likely they were to vote for registered candidates and potential candidates. Murray remained the most popular candidate, albeit with a smaller lead over Gillingham and Ouellette. 

Sixty-seven per cent of survey respondents said they would definitely or possibly vote for Murray, compared to 51 per cent for Gillingham and and 50 per cent for Ouellette.

Murray and Gillingham have been active during the campaign, with each making several public policy announcements. Ouellette has not held any news briefings since he registered in May.

"I know you're kind of wondering why I'm not running around a little bit more," Ouellette said Thurday in an interview at Riel House National Historic Site in St. Vital. 

"We're going out to a few events, and we're spending  time working with the team, but we're also just enjoying the summer. The campaign is going to be a very long one. There are still 92 days until the election."

Of the registered candidates, Motkaluk garnered the most negative sentiment, with 43 per cent of respondents saying they definitely would not vote for her.

The Probe poll also found Murray was the candidate of choice for NDP and Liberal voters who participated in the poll, while Gillingham was the preferred candidate for Progressive Conservatives.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette is running third, with 13 per cent, despite holding no news briefings since his registration in May. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Probe Research did its survey using a representative sample of respondents compiled from the Winnipeg firm's own panel and supplemented with respondents from a national panel.

As an online panel, no margin of error can be ascribed to the sample. Probe said a random and representative non-convenience sample of 622 adults would have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Winnipeg's election is slated for Oct. 26.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

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.


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