Russ Wyatt is a politician in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He has represented Transcona on the Winnipeg City Council since 2002, and is currently a member of the city's executive policy committee. His father, Reg Wyatt, was a councillor from 1983 to 1986.
|Secretary of strategic infrastructure renewal (Winnipeg)|
|Assumed office |
|Preceded by||position created|
|Downtown development committee chair (Winnipeg)|
|Preceded by||Franco Magnifico|
|Succeeded by||Mike Pagtakhan|
|Winnipeg City Councillor for Transcona|
|Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Shirley Timm-Rudolph|
|Occupation||city councillor, management consultant|
Early life and career
Wyatt studied Political Science at the University of Winnipeg and worked for the Wyatt Insurance Group, a family company, before entering public life. In the 1990s, he was an assistant to Transcona councillor Rick Boychuk and chairman of the East Kildonan-Transcona residents advisory group.
In 1993, Wyatt recommended that the City of Winnipeg introduce "park-and-ride" areas to improve public transportation. During the 1997 federal election, he argued that renewed debates over national unity were drawing attention away from pressing issues such as job creation, and credited the New Democratic Party as the only political party willing to discuss the economy. He led a petition drive against bus fare increases in 1998.
Wyatt planned to run for city council in the 1998 municipal election with an endorsement from the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, but withdrew just before the nomination deadline. He led a citizen's campaign to preserve Transcona's health centre in 2000, and criticized the provincial government of Gary Doer when it chose to move the centre.
At the time of the 2002 municipal election, Wyatt was the director of communications for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
Wyatt was elected to city council for Transcona in the 2002 municipal election, at age 32. He was no longer affiliated with the NDP by this time, and ran without a party endorsement. He called for improved municipal infrastructure, and an increased police presence in his ward. After the election, he was appointed to the city's protection and community services committee.
Wyatt soon developed a reputation as a hard-working councillor and a vocal defender of his ward's interests. He also emerged as a prominent opponent of Mayor Glen Murray, with whom he frequently clashed at council meetings. Some accused Wyatt of grandstanding, and of acting in an undiplomatic manner toward other councillors.
- Police services
Wyatt opposed Winnipeg's 2002 police restructuring plan, in part because his ward was slated to lose its station to the St. Boniface area. Following unsuccessful attempts to block the plan on council, he launched a billboard campaign that called for Transconans to protest Murray's handling of the issue. Murray described this move as "very unprofessional", adding that it was based on the flawed assumption that he was personally driving the policy. Council approved the restructuring plan in July 2003.
- Other issues
Wyatt remained a vocal supporter of public transportation, and endorsed rapid transit services for Winnipeg in 2002. He opposed Mayor Murray's plans to introduce a sales tax, on the grounds that it would unfairly target the city's working and middle classes. He also proposed a "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights" in 2004, arguing that it could be used to give citizens a direct vote on new taxes and major capital investments.
Wyatt indicated his support for urban reserves in June 2003, as a means of alleviating poverty among aboriginal communities in Winnipeg. In the same year, he argued that Winnipeg had fallen behind in its efforts to hire greater numbers of women and visible minorities, and called for a department-by-department investigation into the existing state of employment equity programs. He also opposed the possibility of private companies overseeing Winnipeg's trash services, arguing that municipal employees were more reliable.
- 2004 mayoral election
Glen Murray resigned as Mayor of Winnipeg in mid-2004 to run for the House of Commons of Canada. Wyatt considered running for mayor in the by-election that followed, but eventually chose to endorse Garth Steek. He said that he was impressed with Steek's "law and order" focus, and particularly his pledge to crack down on the Hells Angels biker gang. He later became disillusioned with the campaign, however, and suggested that Steek was actually trying to ensure the election of rival candidate Sam Katz by attacking Katz's more serious opponents and otherwise keeping a low profile. Katz won the election, while Steek finished a distant fifth.
Katz administration (first term)
- Rapid Transit Review Task Force
Wyatt sought to improve his relationship with Mayor Katz after the election. He supported Katz's decision to shelve a rapid transit bus line in September 2004, and was appointed chair of the city's Rapid Transit Review Task Force the following month. After several months of public consultation, the force called for Winnipeg to re-establish a rapid transit plan with a more citywide focus.
The task force later removed Katz's preferred option of a downtown light-rail system, following a second round of consultations. This created a rift between Katz and Wyatt, and by the summer of 2005 Wyatt had returned to his previous role as a critic of the administration. The task force ultimately recommended a bus transit corridor. When the final report was submitted, Wyatt expressed concern that Katz's inner circle would cherry-pick its least expensive recommendations and simply ignore the rest. By 2008, he accused Winnipeg Transit of watering down the report beyond all recognition, and described the task force's work as a waste of public money.
Wyatt was one of the earliest critics of the OlyWest hog processing plant, which was proposed for the Transcona and St. Boniface areas of Winnipeg in 2005. When provincial cabinet minister Rosann Wowchuk announced the project, Wyatt objected on the grounds that it could obstruct transit, and bring foul odours and water contamination to the area.
- Other issues
Wyatt opposed the provincial government's plan to construct the Waverley West suburb in 2005, arguing that it would incur significant infrastructural costs. He voted against Sam Katz's anti-panhandling bylaw later in the same year. Wyatt supported malathion spraying to target the city's mosquito population, and supported an unsuccessful motion to introduce term limits in March 2006.
- 2006 election
Wyatt was re-elected in the 2006 municipal election with 85.2% of the vote in his ward. He was endorsed by the Winnipeg Labour Council, and by an "OlyOpp group" of businesses opposing the OlyWest project. He described his victory as a message for Gary Doer's NDP government, and warned that Doer's support for OlyWest would hurt him in the next provincial campaign.
Katz administration (second term)
- Executive Policy Committee
After the 2006 election, Mayor Katz surprised many political observers by appointing Wyatt to the municipal cabinet (officially known as the executive policy committee) as downtown committee chair. Some described this as a savvy move on Katz's part, in that it would shift Wyatt's opposition from the council chamber to the political backrooms. Wyatt was also named chair of a municipal Red Tape Commission in February 2007, and was appointed to the municipal Housing Commission the following month.
Wyatt has openly disagreed with Katz on several issues. He was the only cabinet member to oppose the creation of an Assiniboine Park Conservancy in June 2007, arguing that he could not support more private-sector control of the city's parklands. In September 2007, he broke with the mayor and voted in favour of a proposed commission into police conduct. He later criticized Winnipeg's decision to ban pesticides, describing it as part of a "national fad". He was strongly critical of Katz's decision to close the Disraeli Freeway for sixteen months in 2008, and to permit Canadian Pacific Railway queue-ups in the Transcona area. On one occasion, Wyatt argued that Katz was undermining Transcona's interests with these decisions, and accused him of supporting only "personal business friends or residents in places like South Tuxedo", an upscale south Winnipeg neighbourhood. Katz did not publicly reprimand Wyatt for these remarks, and kept him as a member of the municipal cabinet.
Wyatt called for a single agency to manage Winnipeg's downtown development in February 2008, arguing that existing responsibilities were divided among too many organizations. He has also supported calls for a municipal integrity commissioner, with ombudsman powers over all municipal governments in Manitoba.
Mayor Katz shuffled his municipal cabinet in October 2008, and gave Wyatt a new position as secretary of infrastructure renewal. Bill Clement, who chairs Winnipeg's public works and infrastructure renewal committee, expressed concern that Wyatt's new responsibilities would overlap with his own. Katz rejected this suggestion. One of Wyatt's first acts in his new position was to order a review of Winnipeg's unfunded infrastructure projects, which was issued in January 2009.
Following Katz's shuffle, Wyatt proposed the introduction of a 1% municipal sales tax to target road and bridge repairs. The provincial government was skeptical of the idea, and the Association of Manitoba Municipalities subsequently voted against pursuing the option.
In November 2008, Wyatt tabled a motion to have Winnipeg's chief administrative officer devise with a strategy for reducing environmentally damaging plastic bags. The motion was passed by a vote of 7-0 by the executive policy committee. Wyatt later supported a proposal by Jim Maloway to expand Winnipeg's Disraeli Bridge from four lanes to six.
At a December 2008 meeting of the Executive Policy Committee, Wyatt and fellow councillor Mike Pagtakhan unexpectedly voted against a $476.1 million public works plan on the grounds that it did not provide sufficient resources for bicycle and pedestrian trails. Both councillors later tried, without success, to have expenditures for these trails added to the budget at a regular meeting of council.
In February 2009, Wyatt was appointed as co-chair of a new mayor's environmental advisory committee. He later proposed that Winnipeg replace its diesel-powered buses with electric trolley cars, in a bid to save money and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fall of OlyWest
The provincial government's support for the OlyWest hog processing plant diminished after December 2006, when two of the three companies supporting the project withdrew and the third was informed that it would need to submit a new proposal. Progressive Conservative Party leader Hugh McFadyen and Liberal leader Jon Gerrard called for the project to be abandoned, while New Democratic Party Premier Gary Doer was initially non-committal. During the 2007 provincial election, Wyatt wrote a guest editorial column in the Winnipeg Free Press calling on Doer to declare that the project would not be continued. Doer withdrew his support for OlyWest a few days later, and Wyatt wrote a follow-up letter commending the premier's decision.
- 2010 election
Russ Wyatt was re-elected in the 2010 Municipal Election defeating Vlad Kowalyk 9503 to 1885.
When running for re-election in 2006, Wyatt described himself as progressive on social issues and more conservative on fiscal issues. In 2007, he indicated that both the New Democratic Party and Liberal Party were courting him to run for federal office.
|Candidate||Total votes||% of total votes||Notes|
|Total valid votes||9,246||100.00|
|Candidate||Total votes||% of total votes||Notes|
|Total valid votes||11,788||100.00|
- "Transcona", Winnipeg Votes 2006, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, accessed 8 February 2008; "Seeking city hall seats", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 July 1998.
- Bill Redekop, "Factory boss set for tall-grass fight", Winnipeg Free Press, 10 August 1993.
- Bill Redekop, "City agrees to study park-and-ride idea", Winnipeg Free Press, 29 July 1993. "Park-and-ride" areas are for drivers who choose to park their cars before taking public transportation.
- Russ Wyatt, letter, 2 June 1997, A11.
- Kim Guttormson, "City budget plan secretive, too rushed, councillors told", Winnipeg Free Press, 28 February 1998, A4.
- Linda Quattrin, "10 New Democrats run under banner", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 1998, A3.
- "Wyatt departs race; leaves two to vie for Transcona seat", Winnipeg Free Press, 3 October 1998, A8.
- "Transcona fights to keep health centre", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 November 2000, A6; David Kuxhaus, "Health-care centre move opponents 'betrayed'", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 December 2000, A14.
- Nick Martin, "Pining for police", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 October 2002, A6.
- "Winnipeg Coun. Russ Wyatt charged with sexual assault | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
- "Candidates endorsed", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 September 2002, A2; Nick Martin, "Pining for police", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 October 2002, A6.
- Carol Sanders, "Transcona win sends message: new councillor", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 October 2002, A10.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Rookies win plum positions on city council", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 November 2002, A6.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Wyatt's abandonment of hell-raising style sign of his ambitions?", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 December 2004, B3.; Mary Agnes Welch, "Transcona tired of being abused", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 2003, B1.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Shouting match erupts between mayor, councillor", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 July 2003, A3.
- Leah Hendry, "Police stations at risk", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 December 2002, A1; Leah Hendry, "Police station plan 'alienates' Transcona", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 2003, A6; Mary Agnes Welch, "Councillor threatens to 'fight' city hall", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 June 2003, B3.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Councillor targets police station plans", Winnipeg Free Press, 19 July 2003, A7.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "New police stations win council approval", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 July 2003, A3.
- Leah Hendry, "Higher fares for bus riders get council OK", Winnipeg Free Press, 12 December 2002, A12.
- Daniel Lett, "'Get off the fence,' Tory chief tells Doer", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 September 2003, A6.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Committee rejects bill of rights for city taxpayers", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 2004, B3.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Urban reserves to tackle poverty?", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 June 2003, A1.
- Patti Edgar, "City slighting employment equity: Wyatt", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 May 2004, B2.
- "Privatized garbage pickup debated", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 2004, A5.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Eight could run for mayor's crown", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 May 2004, B1; Mary Agnes Welch, "Election battles begin brewing", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 May 2004, B2; "Hockey, law and order take the podium", Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 2004, A1.
- Patti Edgar, "Steek denies campaign winding down", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 June 2004, A1; Patti Edgar, "Mihychuk says Katz team made her unsolicited offer", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 June 2004, B3.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Wyatt's abandonment of hell-raising style sign of his ambitions?", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 December 2004, B3.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "City transit boss quits", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 September 2004, A1.
- "Who got what", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 October 2004, A8.
- Leah Janzen, "$312-M transit vision unveiled", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 May 2005, A1; Mary Agnes Welch, "The path of least resistance", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 May 2005, B5.
- Patti Edgar, "Light-rail plan derailed", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 2005, B1.
- Bartley Kives, "The bus stops here", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 June 2008, B1.
- Patti Edgar, "Rapid transit years away", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 October 2005, B1.
- Bartley Kives, "Transit task force a $200,000 'waste'", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 May 2008, A5.
- Nick Ternette, "Light rail better than buses" [letter], Winnipeg Free Press, 30 May 2008, A12.
- Leah Janzen, "Hog plant to bring 1,100 jobs", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 November 2005, B1; Helen Fallding, "Councillor says postpone hog plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 19 November 2005, B2.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Waverley West rainy-day funds touted", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 January 2005, B1.
- Patti Edgar, "Panhandlers be warned", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 2005, B1.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Looming infestation swats city's 'greener' approach", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 July 2005, A1.
- Bartley Kives, "Council nixes vote on term limits", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 March 2006, B1. Wyatt also supported a similar motion in 2007. See Bartley Kives, "Veteran councillors terminate plan for term limits", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 November 2007, A4.
- Bartley Kives, "8 council candidates get labour's backing", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 June 2006, B3; Bartley Kives, "Cerilli gets OlyOpp vote", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 September 2006, B1.
- "Transcona", Winnipeg Free Press, 26 October 2006, B9.
- Mary Agnes Welch, "Vocal critic gets a promotion", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 November 2006, B1.
- "Katz gives one-time critic Wyatt red-tape job", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 February 2007, Web Extra; "Katz names appointees to housing committee", Winnipeg Free Press, 8 March 2007, Web Extra. In April 2007, he recommended removing licences for home-based businesses. See Bartley Kives, "City 'cash grab' could be history", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 2007, B2.
- Bartley Kives, "Save the park...and the riverbank...and our bridges...", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 2007, B2.
- Bartley Kives, "Police service 'isn't working': Katz", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 September 2007, A5.
- Bartley Kives, "Pesticide ban passes -- with a bit of tweaking", Winnipeg Free Press, 8 May 2008, B3.
- Bartley Kives, "Katz's council allies become critics Disraeli Freeway, CPR issues spark rare attacks from two staunch supporters", Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 2008, B1.
- Bartley Kives, "Who's driving this thing?", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 February 2008, B2.
- Bartley Kives, "Letter to Katz in question in tax dispute - He said he wasn't involved in firm", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 September 2008, A3.
- "Katz shuffles council executive to seize 'renaissance", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 October 2008, A1.
- Bartley Kives, "Job overlap for councillors?", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 November 2008, A3.
- Bartley Kives, "$2.1 billion Cost of infrastructure improvements planned by the city over the next six years", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 2009, B1.
- Bartley Kives, "NDP rebuffs call for sales tax levy by municipalities", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 November 2008, B3; Mary Agnes Welch, "Municipalities drop bid for share of tax - infrastructure funding", Winnipeg Free Press, 26 November 2008, A5. As of 2008, Wyatt is Winnipeg's representative on the AMM board. See Bartley Kives and Mary Agnes Welch, "Why Manitoba municipalities are insisting on new sales tax", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 November 2008, A4.
- Joel Paraskevas, "Control of plastic bags back on councillors' plate", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 November 2008, A3.
- Bartley Kives, "Strip off lawns sought for freeway", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 March 2009, B2.
- Joe Paraskevas, "Bike paths split civic committee", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 December 2008, B3.
- Joe Paraskevas, "Council refuses to budge on funds for bicycle paths", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 2008, B1.
- Bartley Kives, "Environment panel that quit is replaced", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 2009, B2.
- Bartley Kives, "Councillor pushes trolley buses - Wyatt wants city to study feasibility", Winnipeg Free Press, 28 April 2009, B3.
- Russ Wyatt, "Doer hoping voters forget OlyWest, pigs", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 2007, B10.
- Russ Wyatt, "Re: Doer puts nail in OlyWest's coffin, May 9" [letter], Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 2007, A14.
- Bartley Kives, "Transcona candidates flare nostrils over hog plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 October 2006, B2. Veteran social activist Nick Ternette once described him as a right-wing populist, although others have disagreed with this assessment. See Nick Ternette, "As the world turns at city hall", Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 2006, A11.
- Bartley Kives, "Hair-raising tales come out of city hall", Winnipeg Free Press, 26 April 2007, B3.