13 candidates are vying for 6 available council seats 

The thirteen candidates running for six available seats on Winkler City Council participated in a forum last night, offering voters a chance to hear about their priorities and goals leading up to the October 26th municipal election. The event was hosted by the Winkler and District Chamber of Commerce. 

Doctor retention and recruitment, diversity, public transportation, and unity were some of the questions candidates were faced with by City of Winkler residents.

Below you will find the opening statements of each candidate, listed in the order they spoke to those in attendance at the PW Enns Centennial Concert Hall Monday evening. 


The first candidate to speak was Darryl Harder 

"Genuine, motivated and capable. Three characteristics of my campaign I define as someone who has an authentic interest in others and what they have to say, then taking those ideas or concerns and coming up with resolutions. 

If elected, these words will remain key to my success. So why me?  

With over 25 years of business, ownership and management experience, I've developed a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the challenges in owning or operating a business. From the start of an idea to the sale of a company, I've been part of it all. As a manager in human resources, I know how hard it is to hire and retain good employees. 

I recognize the need for affordable housing. As a landlord and president of two condo boards, it's provided insight into what brings people here and their needs in terms of space, cost or amenities. 

I commend the city and developers who worked together to address this issue, but the challenge will continue as our city grows. 

Having worked through the process of immigration, I know the challenges newcomers face from language barriers, culture shock, or simply understanding how things work and where to go for help. They need guidance. 

Add to that, the issue of public transportation. The concern which many of you have expressed. It's a local and regional need. 

As treasurer and director of a local nonprofit for at-risk kids, I understand how they function and hear the stories of what brings kids to their doors. 

Unstable or broken homes. Addictions. Run-ins with the law, to name a few. Help is needed to address that. 

Having raised two kids together with my wife, I know the fears kids face regarding their future and how unprepared they can feel due to lack of direction, education or life skills they require to prepare them as future leaders. 

You may ask how or why this is relevant and makes me the right choice, but it paints a picture of who I am. My leadership qualities, abilities, and most of all trust that you require in a City Councilor. 

A growing community is a thriving community and every decision in the process is important, and this is your first step in achieving that goal by voting. 

Being genuine, motivated, and capable is proven in my life experiences and I will use them if elected as Councilor, so thank you for your time and I look forward to your vote for me on October 26th.


Candidate Thomas Rempel was second to deliver his opening statement

“Thanks for the introduction and thanks to everyone here tonight taking the time to make your city a priority. I believe that Winkler is the best city in Canada. I believe what makes Winkler such a great city is that, like myself, the mayors and the councilors of the past have believed that the best policies are the ones informed by the objective standards of the Bible. 

Some would say that religion has no place in politics, but the truth is that's impossible. Everyone’s standard of what is good, moral and true are influenced by their religious philosophical view. 

I think we can all agree that when it comes to policy, we need to prioritize what is good, moral and true, and that doing that, benefits everyone. 

The benefit to telling you that is that you have an objective, unchanging standard. When it comes to challenging decisions, you won't have to wonder where I stand. 

Another thing that makes Winkler great, is opportunity. Whether you just arrived a week ago to start a new life, or you've spent your whole life growing up here, it's a place where anyone willing to put in the time and effort can truly make something of themselves. The rest of the community is not only happy to see them succeed but ready to help.  

As citizens, that means shopping locally, and as a councilman, it would mean giving them the resources they need and then getting out of the way and letting them do what they do best. 

Lastly, Winkler is a safe and stable place to live. 

That's true in large part because it's filled with safe and stable homes. The single best thing we can do for our city is to go home and love our family. Because there's no denying that when children are raised in a home with loving parents who never have to worry about a roof over their heads or food on the table, it means lower crime, higher grades, higher self-esteem and the list goes on. 

I recognize that while this is the ideal, it's not always possible. This is when the Community needs to work together to overcome these challenges by supporting programs like the Central Station, local churches, food banks and counselling services. It also means tackling the increased cost of living and making life more affordable for everyone.   

Over the past two years, I have seen a lot of fighting in the community. People fighting against people whom they think are making Winkler feel unsafe. People who feel they are fighting against the fact that they can't worship or work the way they want. 

Truthfully, I think we're all fighting for the same thing. 

The Winkler that brought you here from across the world...my goal is to help make Winkler that city again with all of your help. 

Thank you."


Incumbent, Michael Grenier, was next

I want to start by offering my thanks to outgoing Mayor Harder and Councilor Bueckert. 

Thank you for your friendship and service to our city and to your families for sharing you with us. 

“What can I say about this past term on City Council? 

It's been a privilege to serve as chairperson of Regional Connections and Winkler Fire Department boards, as treasurer for Winkler Arts and Culture, and representing our city on several other committees. 

I want to offer two highlights from this term. 

First, being able to be a part of Regional Connections Board, learning what I have through the stories of new residents. It has been an incredible experience hearing about the successes and struggles they share as they work, play and enjoy living in Winkler. 

Secondly, implementing an Asset Management Program. City staff have poured hours into ensuring we have accurate data on the conditions and lifespan of our streets, water, sewer and more. 

Having this plan in place takes away a lot of what ifs, giving Council clear direction and allowing common sense decisions to be made. 

Looking ahead to the upcoming term, we have a lot on our plate as a city. Drinking water, wastewater, recreation, levels of service, and improving accessibility. Tackling these issues will require a Council with experience and a willingness to work collaboratively towards the common goal of doing what is best for Winkler. 

As your city councilor, I've shown an ability to collaborate and to get things done. In closing, I'm hoping there's some Toronto Blue Jays fans out here this evening, so my analogy doesn't get totally lost. 

The Jays are a great ball team, some incredible young talent, and if you've watched a few games, you've seen a favourite of mine, a short, stocky guy named Alejandro Kirk. 

He's not glamorous or loud, but he gets the job done by being a top-notch team player and giving 100% to the role that he's assigned. 

I want to be the Alejandro Kirk of this City Council. 

I look forward to this opportunity to serve and find solutions. On October 26th, please vote for me Michael Grenier, your city Councilor.

Thank you."


Peter Froese said this

“Good evening to everyone in the audience, fellow candidates, and Mr. Moderator. 

Why should all of you vote for Peter Froese? I have the desire to serve the citizens of Winkler, not just because I think it's an amazing place to live, but because of what my family and I have experienced because of the opportunities we were given by the good citizens of Winkler in the 39 years that I was employed by the City.  

I was sixteen years an equipment operator, fifteen years a Foreman, eight years a Director of Works and Operations. I have been physically involved with and have had a hand in planning many of the projects that have made Winkler one of the fastest-growing communities, not just in Manitoba but in Canada. A lot of things have been done well by previous councils and staff to make this a safe place to live and a safe place to raise families. I want to make sure it stays that way. 

I believe I have the insight and experience to help the wonderful City of Winkler move forward. Agendas are misleading, platforms are very often disappointing, and no one can promise to lower the taxes while providing more and better services. But with fiscally responsible budgets and planning, we can continue to offer exceptional services and amenities to the citizens of Winkler. 

I will come to the table with a common-sense approach and a transparent attitude. The citizens of Winkler deserve no less. 

Now that I'm retired, I would like to give back a portion of what I have received. That's time. 

One more thing. If ever we start talking about making golf carts leave street legal, I will be in favour of it. 

On October 26th, please vote Peter Froese. Thank you.” 


Mark Bennett is also running for one of the six council seats

"I'm going to go a little bit off script here right now, share a story with everybody. 

The reason, Tara (Mark's wife) and I moved to Winkler was we were sitting in our house in our bedroom watching TV, and there were loud bangs outside...What it was was a coordinated effort from the Drug Task Force that was taking down two gang units that were in the apartment block across the back lane from us.  

So, having a one-year-old half a house away from that didn't seem like a great idea. So, I said, 'Hun, could you tell me about Winkler again? Cause I think I think I'm kind of interested now.' And she told me a story of a place where it was diverse. There was tons of opportunity. People were accepted, but of course, challenges.   

And as we go through tonight, you'll hear things like infrastructure a lot. Well, what does infrastructure mean to folks? 

Well, right now there are 1000 open jobs in Winkler. Any HR manager, anybody in staffing in the room knows it's really hard to find and keep people. So how do we staff those jobs? 

What's been happening is companies are having to increase the rates of pay for people, which means that the and the rates of their products and services are also increased. 

This is an issue. 

We also have an influx of immigration. 

As Vern mentioned, I'm part of the Pembina Valley Local Immigration Partnership Committee and what I'm seeing is an influx of people who are willing to work, wanting to work. But how can they come to work at a business when they don't speak the language? 

Are businesses willing to include interpreters? 

How do we ensure that safe work is being done? 

So, tonight I hope that we get to get to the bottom of a lot of these issues. 

We have open dialogue and really looking forward to the questions. "


Greg Unrau is also hoping for a spot on the council

"I am Greg Unrau. I was born and raised in Winkler, and I currently work at Solutions IT as a Corporate Account Manager, 

"I would most certainly not fit into the mold of conventional candidate for positions such as this, but I will bring a very unique perspective. 

My family has been a part of the core community here for generations and my grandparents were a large part of building this city into what it is today. I would love the opportunity to become part of building this community up to the next level as we still have so much more than we can accomplish. 

I've experienced many different stages in my life that have prepared me for representing the wide variety and diverse population that now resides in this community. I've experienced homelessness and despair while living on the streets, and some may wish to look upon that as a shortcoming. But I learned a great deal about the world from that perspective, and it provided me with insight that most candidates likely won't have. 

On the flip side of that equation, I've also achieved great success in the world of retail and management over the years and have become one of the top performers in my field. 

I've acquired many skills over the years that have been responsible for the operation of large companies with oversight of budgets to similar to the size of the city of Winkler. I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and I do not take it lightly, as the decisions that we make here reflect the money that is contributed by the hardworking people of this community. All of you. 

I greatly enjoy serving on the Winkler Chamber of Commerce board, and running for Council is a way that I feel I can give back even more to the Community that I grew up in. But I also wish to give a voice to the people in our midst that sometimes feel marginalized because they don't have money or influence. This should not happen. 

I recognize that my vote on Council would represent one of seven, but I have spent the majority of my life creating win-win situations through business transactions and this would be a great benefit when working for the public interest. 

I'm interested in fostering unity in our city. I think that Winkler's population, at its core, is full of good people with traditional values, despite the fact that we don't always see eye to eye on everything. 

I would like for us to work together as a whole in order to ensure that we maintain the high standards that were set by our former leaders that have worked so hard to get us where we are at this time. 

They have served us well and it is now time for some new and fresh ideas to take us into the future. 

Thank you."


Randy Rietze is also seeking a seat on October 26th.

"I've lived here all my life, born and raised. I have a passion for Winkler. I am proud to say when people ask, I live in the city of Winkler. As our sign outside the city says, ‘Yes Winkler.’ 

I graduated myself from GVC, got into business with my father after schooling. After a while with him, I started my own businesses. I've been involved in various local charity groups in the community. As mentioned, I'm chairman of the Heritage Society, involved in church work. 

People that come to this city look at Winkler and kind of envy us. Winker is a city that is very aggressive in business, in agriculture, industry, shopping and entertainment. It's the perfect city to raise your family in. We have a great school system here. 

There are excellent jobs available, as mentioned. It’s a good place to start a business. And when the time comes, a place to retire. 

Winkler has lots to offer people. I also strongly believe in a faith, faith-based community with strong family values. 

With growth in this community, we also do get the bad things like crime, and therefore I support a strong police department and a solid fire department service. 

I also support the healthcare system, doctors and nurses. We have to aggressively go after more doctors for our community. We need to attract more of them here. 

I think our doctors and nurses have been kind of mistreated over the last number of years and I think we owe them a bit of an apology. 

Support for the local water program, as mentioned, is also on the agenda. 

And basically, the bottom line is my plan would be to use common sense in all the decisions that I would make. 

I plan to be visible in the community, talking to the people and hearing their concerns, work with council, make the right decisions to further the goals of the community. 

Please vote for me on October 26th.  

This is my third time running for council. I’m also a third-generation candidate. My father and grandfather were both on council."


Don Friesen said the following

“Good evening. 

I searched the definition of a politician online and that was depressing. 

This is part of what I read. 

Many critics attacked politicians for being out of touch with the public. Areas of friction include how to speak, which is being described as overly formal, an attempt to obscure, or mislead. The popular image of a politician, unfortunately, is clueless, selfish, rude, dishonest, incompetent and corrupt.  

Wow! Who on Earth wants that title? Not me. 

As I sit here hoping to be elected to City Council, some people say that means I want to be a politician, but I'm far from wanting that title. 

My commitment to you is that I want to serve. That's it. Plain and simple. 

We live in a great community. 

We have a relatively safe city thanks to the very committed police service. We need to keep maintaining it at an affordable level. 

A great hospital and medical facilities with dedicated doctors, nurses and staff who need to keep working on recruiting more medical staff. 

A great business economy with tons of jobs. We need to keep working, attracting the right people into our community while still not overwhelming our schools and housing. 

A great social net in place to help the struggling people in our community and we need to keep trying to provide affordable housing for the young and old. 

Some great rec facilities which we need to keep updating and adding for future demands. 

A great fire department with very committed people working and volunteering there, and blessed with lots of places to worship. 

We take these things for granted, but there are lots of communities out there are very envious of us. 

I was elected to Winkler City Council for two terms, serving from 2010 to 2018, and I've gained lots of experience and knowledge during those two terms. 

After selling, our real estate company I had the opportunity to be part of the management team at Décor Cabinets for four years. There I gained experience of working in a large corporation I did not run in the 2018 election to focus on my new role at the Décor. 

I'm a proud father of a gifted daughter with the passion to serve overseas, and an awesome son and daughter-in-law who are now partners at Choice Realty. And my newest title is Grandpa. 

Since I have the time and with the support of my wife and family, I like to get back into helping with our great city again. 

I'll commit to trying to keep my finger on the pulse of public opinions to determine whether Council is properly representing the wishes of the taxpayer. 

I like thinking outside the box and I'm passionate about this community. 

If elected, I want to maintain the core values that this great city is being built on while adapting to the needs of future generations. 

Thank you."


Incumbent, Don Fehr, offered these opening comments

As you know, this is an extremely important event, an election that will affect the future of our great city. As an 8-year veteran on council, the last two years all of us have experienced, have been extremely challenging with the extra workload of keeping our community safe and unified. 

I feel blessed having the opportunity to work through this and see the resilience our people are known for. Positive attitudes in uncertain times is hard. However, it builds a strong character for the future. 

What are we as leaders of the community facing today and what are we doing about it? 

Well, affordable housing is quite a buzzword. 

I'm involved in local and regional planning that works with and provides support to our local developers. 

We have a shared vision for the needs of our community, whether it be multi-family, single-family or commercial. We as a city have also taken over Manitoba Housing in Winkler which supports low-income families. And as you know, affordable housing cannot happen without expanding infrastructure, which is the buzzword now, but that is true. 

As you all know by now, our water and wastewater projects need to happen quickly. 

Having the background on these projects, I will continue to advocate for a cost-effective plan that will provide our city's needs for the future. 

Community organizations, I strongly support the dedicated efforts like Central Station, Gateway Resources, Winkler Senior Center, Genesis house, Winkler Food Cupboard and many other services that they provide and it fills the need for the people that fall in that gap. 

Transportation has been a big issue. We must have affordable costs to the user, cost-effective for the city, and provide a level of service people can count on. 

I have a plan that could fill that need. 

Healthcare, population, as we know, is aging and with support... 

*Candidate ran out of time*


The following opening statement was from candidate, Don Cruickshank

"Thank you, Mr. Moderator. 

Mr. Moderator has highlighted some of the areas that I've served, and I believe you'll come to the conclusion that you can trust me to serve well and with integrity. 

My life is about service. I'm running because Winkler is a great place that we've chosen to call home, and I think many others should call this their home. 

However, Winkler faces some serious challenges, including housing that’s affordable, and affordable housing. Transportation, employment, vacancy issues, recreational activities families can do together, additional options in post-secondary schooling and lack of childcare options, and increased care for seniors and marginalized citizens. 

All of these issues were issues for Winkler in 2018 when the Winkler Vital Science Community Survey came out, and yet they remain issues today. We need to find some solutions. 

I believe my Masters's degree in leadership and management will help solve these issues by bringing a new perspective, collaborative problem-solving strategies and asking challenging questions. 

We need to make a serious push on maximizing land value by ensuring multi-family dwellings are built for first time homebuyers. 

We also need to ensure more affordable housing is built in the areas where families are not hindered by transportation. 

Speaking with Central Station, I learned that there's a $60,000 feasibility study scheduled that will explore some type of public transportation. 

This is critical as we know all future developments will be occurring in Northlands West and East, along with Southlands Western and East, which are all by city limits. 

My wife is a professional. In fact, she's the CFO for Eden Health Care Services. 

All healthcare and professional services, as well as retail and restaurants are struggling to find employees. There are currently 800 to 1000 vacant jobs in Winkler, and this hurts Winkler because businesses can't grow. 

We must promote quality of life as you would go a long way in recruiting young professionals looking for a rewarding career and a great place to raise their families. 

Could additional options in post-secondary study encourage local residents to develop their careers right here in Winkler? 

Could introducing tax incentives for private daycares encourage more private daycares to open? 

I think so.  

On October 26th, I'm asking for your vote so that I can be part of the team that finally brings solutions to the issues facing Winkler that we've identified but not yet solved. 

My name is Don Cruickshank, and I'm here to serve."


Incumbent, Marvin Plett, said the following

“Thank you, Mr. Moderator, fellow citizens. 

Giving back to my community has always been an integral part of my decision-making process. 

Whether as an MCC volunteer, with youth in Winnipeg's core area, or choosing teaching as a career, or joining the volunteer Winkler Ambulance and Fire Department, I ran for council in order to actively collaborate with our team to bring about positive change for you, my fellow citizens. 

I believe that my experience and demonstrated caring and commitment bring a valuable contribution to counsel making many positive changes in our city walkways, Discovery Nature Sanctuary, skate park, business incentives, and supporting downtown senior living, the CW Wiebe Medical Center that has grown from about half a dozen physicians to almost 50 physicians. 

I am pleased that we work well with our neighbouring municipalities. From recreation, the SWAMP landfill, health care...We are stronger and better together. 

Some achievements in this council term include a youth counsellor, Highway 32 update, Meridian Exhibition Center with a walking track, a fieldhouse and an ice surface.

And I am very pleased that council has continued to support Central station, the beautiful and practical new facility to support families and individuals with a variety of needs. 

A few of the major things looking forward are housing. And I'm actively involved, currently in discussions with Manitoba and Central Health to bring more services, specialized tests and procedures like cataract services to our area that would mean fewer Winnipeg trips for you.  

I have supported efforts to bring transit service to our city and hope we can make that happen this term. 

Assuring adequate supply of drinking and efficient wastewater treatment. I am pleased to say that we've always been able to keep our taxes at the lowest one of the laws in the province because that's important for us as residents.  

I pledge to continue using my experience and care to make Winkler a place where you can dream, build and live. “


Incumbent, Andrew Froese, was the second last to deliver his opening statement

"Thank you, Mr. Moderator, honoured guests and fellow candidates. Thank you for being here today. 

I want to first say thank you to Karina Bueckert for serving the last four years. She did a great job.  

And also thank you to Martin Harder on his upcoming mayoral retirement. Thank you for all you've done for the city, for these for your many years of dedicated service. 

As you heard about me already, many people have been asking me, why run a third term? And the people close to me know that I was considering not running. And I reply to them that that recreation, that recreational grant money that was just announced was my tipping point. 

I've been very involved in the water treatment plant, wastewater treatment plant, and recreation. 

As many of you know, my civil engineering background and my passion for recreation have been two of the committees that I have enjoyed the most, and I would love to continue on that. 

I came here without a speech, just like I wasn't sure on council I wasn't sure what to say here tonight and one thing that I do want to say tonight is it's pretty glaringly obvious to me that council is about teamwork. And playing in sports gave me that opportunity as well. Teamwork is key to any successful team. In any sport, and also in work.  

At Load King, we can't do things if one department doesn't help another. We can't do things if everybody on the shop floor, all 400 of them, bring forward their ideas. 

If you think that the seven guys up here that are going to be on council have all the ideas, you're going to be wrong. We don't have all the ideas. We rely on all the groups that are in this city, Central Station, our medical community, our sports community, our arts centre, and our food cupboard. All these places, immigration partnerships, everyone has a say and has a voice. 

And committee work is where that teamwork happens. We take ideas, we discuss them and we work with our community. And I hope that whoever you vote for here, is willing to do that. 

I'm not perfect, but I can guarantee you one thing. I will always try my best, and anyone who's worked with me before knows that of me. And I would appreciate your vote on October 26.  

Thank you."


Dustin Brown said the following in his opening statement Monday evening

"Good evening everyone. 

Thanks for taking the time to come listen to us candidates and taking interest in the future of our city. 

We are fortunate to live in a community that is thriving in so many ways. 

Our Protective Services are top-notch and are envied by many other communities. You see new houses going up in different areas. New businesses are seeing the potential here and opening up shop. Small businesses also continue to succeed and do well, with data showing half of the businesses in Winkler have one to four employees. 

It's important we continue to support them as a City Council and as a day-to-day shopper. 

There's so much good we can see just by looking around our city. However, there is still a lot of work to do on capital projects that are in the works that need to be seen through to the end. Things like upgrading the water treatment plant, planning our land development to find the right mix of zoning, and continuing the planning process for our wastewater treatment plant, just to name a few. 

Several things that have recently been announced include federal funding was approved for a major renovation to the Centennial Arena. A plan was completed to implement an Asset Management System, which will help track the many assets that the city has. 

This spring a new three-storey Medical Center was announced to be built, as well as an expansion to the Boundary Trails Health Centre.  

It'll be exciting to see how the City of Winkler can play a part in helping this all come together. 

Affordable housing with the help of Central Station from what I have heard has worked very well and should continue to grow and be supported by the city. 

We also have a lot of relationships that need to be continually built and some repaired after a rough couple of years. This includes locally, provincially and nationally. 

These are the things I feel are important for the city to complete as we plan for future growth and I would love to help plan, prepare and see through to the end. 

For myself, running for City Council, I've been presenting 3 platform attributes that I believe I can bring to the table. 

Able, accountable and trustworthy. 

To be able, we must have the skills, dedication and willingness to take on a task and complete it. 

To be accountable, we must be responsible as a member of Council and be able to justify our actions in our decisions.

And finally, to be trustworthy, we must be honest and truthful while carrying out our duties. 

These are simple definitions, yet attributes I feel are important. 

As I run for City Council on October 26th, I ask for your vote and your support.

Thank you."