Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Brian Bowman: Old School Chamber of Commerce conservative
|Brian Bowman (far right), with Tracy Bowman, |
"honoured" to have the endorsement of old school
Conservative politician Gary Filmon (second from the left, with
wife Janice Filmon).
Image Source: Twitter
Way back in May 14 of this year I was at the launch of Brian Bowman's campaign. It was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which the mayoral hopeful once chaired. A crowd of 300 packed into the Gallery, many young urban professionals, members of the local twittersphere, and folks from the marketing industry. Perhaps the "next generation leadership" lawyer Bowman keeps talking about, which is also a fairly privileged subset of said generation.
This well attired set gave heavy cheers to Brian Bowman. The first round, while intense, was not great enough for the gentleman introducing him - Dave Angus, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce - who demanded an even louder round of applause (which the audience more than complied with).
Entering the stage with cheers and neon lights flashing, Bowman went on to give his speech. In it, he delivered lame zingers like "Is City Hall ready for Winnipeg at one million people? It's not even ready for winter!" (approximation of quote based on memory) which the crowd more than ate up, with one person seated behind me particularly lapping up Bowman's punchlines. The rock star treatment Bowman was given at the launch, both in terms of stage management and the way the crowd lapped him up, was very unnerving. It revealed, however, that the mayoral contender's candidacy would be slickly marketed.
A similar unnerving glibness has remained throughout his campaign. Bowman would attack Judy Wasylycia-Leis as a "career politician" while later praising her public service. The lawyer would also bemoan the awfulness of "old school politics" and lament negativity, while running a campaign with it's fair share of punches and attacks.
|Brian Bowman campaigning for a provincial|
Image Source: Twitter
This critique of partisan partiality is in spite of Bowman's own ties to the provincial Conservatives - having campaigned for a Conservative MLA and receiving endorsements from many prominent current and retired CON pols - including ex-Premier Gary Filmon. There was even interest in having Brian run for PC leader in the past.
Bowman has made ambitious proposals, such as building all Bus Rapid Transit lines by 2031, shifting from property taxes to a four percent municipal sales tax, and building a fenced in dog park in downtown Winnipeg. Many of the big picture and even urbanist ideas the lawyer is running on parallel the BOLD campaign of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. This should not be surprising as the mayoral contender has deep ties to the Chamber.
Brian Bowman was chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce when it launched its BOLD initiative. While the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce opposed the PST increase they did support granting municipalities the power to raise infrastructure levies - something the 4% Bowman Sales Tax would do (if he could get the province to approve it).
Within the closing period of this campaign, "next generation of leadership" politician Bowman revealed what he really is: an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, quite like the other supposed political "outsider" Sam Katz who was first elected in 2004. The Chamber conservative is committed to cutting public city worker pension benefits, but specifically for new workers - i.e. often young workers. The candidate espousing "next generation leadership" revealed just what it'll be like: class war against the weak and powerless.
In a new, Bowman age there would be a tale of two youths in Winnipeg. The privileged set, laughing at his jokes and enjoying his fight to beautify the downtown and the underprivileged set losing their benefits and facing the consequences of his very old school, reactionary class warfare against the new public workers of Winnipeg. Given Bowman's usage of Judy's political experience as an insult perhaps it should not be too surprising that the private sector lawyer does not seem to deeply respect the public service.
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