In the 2006 Winnipeg Election, Scott Fielding challenged fellow Conservative Jae Eadie. Fielding argued that Eadie had been in office too long. Fielding supporters gathered in the middle of Portage Avenue during rush hour waving signs stating Jae Eadie’s 26 consecutive years in office were too long.
In early 2011, Fielding rushed a proposal through City Hall naming a park after Jae Eadie in recognition of his 26 years on City Council. There was no mention of Jae staying too long.
Although Fielding did not run in the 2014 City Election, he successfully ran in the Kirkfield Park Riding in the 2016 Provincial Election. Slightly less than half of Kirkfield Park corresponds with the area represented by both Eadie and Fielding at City Hall.
In 1998 and 2006, Mynarski resident Ross Eadie (no relation to Jae) ran in the neighboring Old Kildonan ward. Some political observers wondered if he was avoiding running against long time Mynarski Councillor Harry Lazarenko. By 2010, Ross Eadie seemed ready to challenge Lazarenko.
After suffering a serious medical set back, Lazarenko decided not to contest the 2010 Election. However, he did not endorse Ross Eadie.
As the 2014 Election Campaign approached, Ross Eadie led the campaign to honor Harry Lazarenko. After strong opposition, a plan to rename Machray Park after Lazarenko was scrapped.
The park continues to be named after Robert Machray, a prominent Anglican Bishop. On June 26, 2014, Council unanimously passed Ross Eadie’s motion to rename the Redwood Bridge after Lazarenko. The ceremony took place less than three weeks before the 2014 Election.
Cindy Gilroy needed two elections to defeat West End legend Harvey Smith. Smith narrowly won the 2010 Election.
On August 8, 2014, CBC did an article on the Daniel Mac race. Gilroy was quoted as saying, “I do not think that he can work with other Councillors.” Gilroy won. Smith died in March 2017.
Cindy Gilroy is now championing a campaign to name the West End Library in memory of Harvey Smith. The Gilroy motion states that it is important to honor Harvey’s numerous and lasting contributions, with the Library representing one of these contributions. The proposal is currently proceeding through City Hall Committees.
These former Councillors deserve these honors. However, we should question recent political opponents leading the campaigns for theses namings, especially in election years.
The sudden praising of recent political rivals increases public cynicism of the political system. Is there really a need for a confident politician to loudly praise the accomplishments of a recent political rival in order to win future elections?
There is a middle ground to properly balance the recent political rivalry with the desire to remember the former Councillors. Cindy Gilroy, Ross Eadie and Scott Fielding could have quietly supported these namings after letting other Councillors move and second these proposals.
Should we delay any future namings until after the 2018 Election?
Disclosure: In 2006, I ran against Scott Fielding and Jae Eadie.