Shaun Loney was cleaning a homeless shelter in Winnipeg last spring when he made the decision that he was going to run for mayor.
“I didn’t want to be 75 years old, looking back on my city and realizing I should have been standing up,” says Loney. “When people are struggling and there are solutions to problems, it’s incumbent upon us to make change happen.”
Loney, who was born in Emo and graduated Fort Frances High School in 1989, was the first to declare his intent to run after Mayor Brian Bowman announced he would not try for re-election.
In what many are calling a wide-open race to become Winnipeg’s 44th mayor, Loney says nine people have a legitimate shot at winning. The majority of candidates are known politicians, so Loney will look like an outsider.
Though not affiliated with any political party, Loney says he panders to both sides of the spectrum. He says those on the right will like his more affordable, effective practices, while those on the left will enjoy his social and environmental changes.
“We agree that our tax dollars need to be spent effectively,” says Loney. “We agree that solving problems is better than managing them.”
Loney says the media will have a tough time describing his campaign and fitting it into the normal political spectrum as Winnipeggers are used to.
“We’re thinking outside the box,” says Loney.
Self-titled as a social entrepreneur, Loney says he uses business to resolve social and environmental challenges.
“The way we need to go forward is focusing on common sense,” says Loney. “We need to look at things through a solutions perspective rather than an idealogical one.”
His platform plans on offering a solution to homelessness and focusing on employment opportunities for those who don’t have access to the labour market. Loney says he has experience in creating green jobs to help keep young people in Winnipeg. He also says he looks to improve the city’s relations with Indigenous people.
“I think we’re ready to turn the corner on what reconciliation looks like,” says Loney.
To him, it’s about addressing homelessness, creating jobs, and taking climate action. He says there are no other candidates offering the path that he is and says he thinks he provides a refreshing alternative for voters.
Winnipeg’s civic election is set to take place on October 26 — two days after Ontario’s municipal elections. Loney says there are many similarities between the campaign in Winnipeg and municipal campaigns in the Rainy River District.
He says electric vehicles and ground-source heat pumps are a great option for people living in the District. He says municipalities can help, but if they stand back, people will continue to have to pay high transportation and home-heating costs.
He encourages those running for councils around the District to look at his platform. He says it also carries relevancy given the high percentage of Indigenous people in the area.
“I’ve been astounded by how little I know about the Indigenous-settler relations in the District,” says Loney.
He and Rainy River First Nations Chief Jim Leonard co-authored Manidoo Ziibi — a collection of stories about how the relationship has been.
“I felt it was important that people like me be more educated about our shared history,” says Loney.
“I think when we understand how we can relate to each other better, there’ll be a better future for all families in the District.”
Leonard and Loney will be at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung on May 9 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. to host an exhibit based on the book. Entry to the event is free.