Winnipeg mayoral candidate doubles down on controversial Canada Day remarks

Jenny Motkaluk. Global News / File

For the first time in Winnipeg’s municipal election campaign, outgoing mayor Brian Bowman has spoken out about a candidate.

That candidate, Jenny Motkaluk, is doubling down on her controversial remarks, telling 680 CJOB that Bowman’s comments are “the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Motkaluk, who finished second to Bowman in the 2018 mayoral race, has consistently derided what she calls Bowman’s “woke” policies during his time in office, and her recent scuffle with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) prompted the current mayor to speak out on social media.

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In recent years, Winnipeg’s Canada Day celebrations — particularly the large-scale party at The Forks — have been toned down, as a way to reflect on the impacts colonialism has on Indigenous people.

As part of her campaign, Motkaluk has repeatedly called for a return to more celebration on July 1, prompting the AMC to criticize her remarks earlier this month.

“The Canada that Jenny Motkaluk is celebrating was built off the suffering First Nations and should have never existed in the first place,” said Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean in a statement.

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“It is time to move forward in reconciliation and create new traditions to honour what this nation was meant to be. Canada is home for all of us, First Nations peoples and settlers alike. As a nation, we need to come together and agree that celebrating colonization and genocide is no longer part of the agenda.

“Reconciliation is the direction all politicians should walk towards, not away from.”

Motkaluk has taken issue with McLean’s “never should have existed in the first place” remark, prompting the mayor to tweet Wednesday that her stance on this issue is why “this candidate will once again lose”

Click to play video: 'Can Canada Day be ‘source of unity’ with reconciliation focus?'
Can Canada Day be ‘source of unity’ with reconciliation focus?

The candidate told 680 CJOB’s The Start that she can’t appreciate the criticism that her views may be setting back reconciliation efforts.

“The truth of the matter is this, you cannot be the mayor of a Canadian city if you do not stand up for the right of our country to exist,” she said.

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“(Bowman) has created a fractured society here in Winnipeg and that’s his legacy.”

Motkaluk said events like the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation already address the injustices of Canadian history, and Canada Day should remain something celebrated by all.

“This is not to diminish the mistakes of the past but it’s to look forward to our happy future.”

AMC told Global News it stands by its previous statement about Motkaluk’s comments.

““It is very important that anyone coming into the role of mayor for this city understands not only the meaning of reconciliation, but that truth will always come first and foremost,” McLean said.

Bowman had no further comment on the controversy.

Motkaluk, who received over 76,000 votes in her last mayoral run, has been sitting around fifth place in the 2022 campaign, according to recent polls.

Winnipeg votes for a new mayor, council, and school trustees on Oct. 26.

Click to play video: 'Jenny Motkaluk on masks and physical distancing'
Jenny Motkaluk on masks and physical distancing

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