Lillian Thomas

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Lillian Thomas
Deputy Mayor of Winnipeg
In office
Preceded byJae Eadie
Succeeded byDan Vandal
Secretary of Urban Aboriginal Opportunities (Winnipeg)
In office
Preceded byposition created
Succeeded byMike Pagtakhan[1]
Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs (Winnipeg)
In office
Preceded byJae Eadie
Succeeded byposition eliminated
Member of Winnipeg's Executive Policy Committee
In office
Winnipeg City Councillor for Elmwood-East Kildonan
In office
Preceded byward created
Succeeded byThomas Steen
Winnipeg City Councillor for Elmwood
In office
Preceded byAlf Skowron
Succeeded byward eliminated
Personal details
BornPort Arthur, Ontario, Canada

Lillian Thomas (born 1949) was a city councillor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada from 1989 until her retirement in 2010. She served on the council initially for Elmwood, and later for its successor ward of Elmwood-East Kildonan.

Early life[edit]

Thomas was born in Port Arthur, which is now part of Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Lakehead University, and a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Manitoba. She is married to Len Dalman (1978), and they have a son, David (1985).

Thomas is a long-time member of the New Democratic Party.[2]

City councillor[edit]

Norrie and Thompson administrations (1989–1998)

Thomas was first elected to Winnipeg City Council in the 1989 municipal election, defeating veteran councillor Alf Skowron in the Elmwood ward. She was a member of the centre-left Winnipeg into the '90s (WIN) coalition that also included future mayor Glen Murray. In 1991, she served on a committee that recommended against the spraying malathion to combat the city's mosquito population.[3]

Re-elected in 1992, Thomas soon emerged as an opponent of new mayor Susan Thompson, who succeeded five-term incumbent Bill Norrie. Thomas was appointed to both the Planning and Community Services Committee and the Protection, Parks and Culture Committee in 1993, when the left and right wings of council formed a temporary alliance to overturn Thompson's planned appointments.[4]

Thomas opposed plans to build a new arena for the Winnipeg Jets hockey team in the mid-1990s.[5] She also criticized municipal expenditures on the Charleswood Bridge, and called for the project's funding to be redirected toward infrastructure renewal.[6] She supported Sunday shopping with some restrictions,[7] and endorsed a 1994 proposal to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of civic employees.[8]

Thomas was re-elected in 1995 over a strong challenge from former councillor Ray Brunka. Along with Glen Murray and Dan Vandal, she was one of only three WIN members returned to the new council. After the election, she was appointed to the Winnipeg Art Gallery board of governors, the Zoological Society of Manitoba and the medical advisory committee. In 1996, she opposed Mayor Thompson's proposed roll-back of municipal wages.[9] Thomas was almost relieved of her three board positions in late 1996, as the result of a controversial process that many believe was politically motivated. She retained her positions with the Art Gallery board and medical advisory committee following a lengthy debate, but was removed from the Zoological Society.[10] In 1997, she opposed businessman Sam Katz's proposal to construct a new baseball park in Winnipeg.[11]

Thomas sought to become deputy speaker of the Winnipeg City Council in late 1997, but lost to John Prystanski.[12]

The WIN organization dissolved after the 1995 campaign.[13] Thomas received an endorsement from the New Democratic Party in the 1998 election, and was re-elected under its banner over another challenge from Ray Brunka.[14] While seeking re-election, she highlighted her success in adding a social equity component to the City of Winnipeg Act, in order to add a social dimension to urban planning.[15]

Murray administration

Thomas's ally Glen Murray was elected as Mayor of Winnipeg in 1998, and subsequently appointed Thomas to his Executive Policy Committee as Deputy Mayor.[16] Over the next five years, she often represented the mayor at official events such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies and luncheons.[17] She also served on the Fiscal Issues Committee.[18]

Thomas called for the number of city councillors to be increased in this period, arguing that Winnipeg is too large to be governed by only fifteen representatives.[19] She opposed term limits for councillors, and described anti-mosquito fogging as a "necessary evil".[20] She also endorsed the principle of rent controls, after school trustee Mario Santos proposed their abolition.[21]

In July 2001, Thomas announced a two million dollar investment in inner-city development with funding from the federal, provincial and municipal governments.[22] Two months later, she was appointed to a provincial panel charged with charting the future of the Winnipeg region.[23]

Thomas was re-elected in the 2002 municipal election, and retained her status as Deputy Mayor and her position on the Fiscal Issues Committee.[24] She was a prominent supporter of Glen Murray's "new deal" plan for Winnipeg, and endorsed a full smoking ban in the city's public indoor spaces.[25] She relinquished her responsibilities as Deputy Mayor in a November 2003 cabinet shuffle, and was appointed to oversee relations with the provincial government. Murray indicated that he made this appointment because Thomas was trusted by members of Gary Doer's administration.[26]

In 2004, Thomas encouraged Manitoba New Democratic Party members to maintain their policy of endorsing Winnipeg council and school board candidates. Delegates overwhelmingly approved the policy at the party's convention.[27]

Katz administration

Glen Murray resigned as mayor in mid-2004 to run for the House of Commons of Canada. Thomas supported Dan Vandal's bid to become his successor in the by-election that followed.[28] The winning candidate was Sam Katz, whose platform Thomas had criticized.[29] After the election, she opposed Katz's decision to shelve the implementation of a rapid transit plan for Winnipeg.[30] She nevertheless retained her position in Katz's executive committee, and in October 2004 was shuffled to the position of Secretary for Urban Aboriginal Opportunities.[31]

Thomas opposed Katz's plan to privatize municipal garbage collection in 2005, arguing that it would encourage private monopolies and drive prices upward in the long run.[32] She also spoke against the mayor's plan to build condominiums in Assiniboine Park.[33] She was dropped from the city's executive in October 2005.

Thomas subsequently charged that Katz was stalling the creation of urban aboriginal reserves, and took the unusual step of releasing her report on the subject before it was submitted to committee.[34] She later opposed the establishment of an Olywest pork production plant in Winnipeg's east end, and pressured the city to remove its financial incentives for the project.[35] The project was canceled in 2007.

Re-elected without difficulty in 2006, she soon emerged as one of Mayor Katz's most prominent critics on the new council.[36] In early 2007, she spoke against Katz's plans to close the Kelvin Community Centre in her ward.[37] She later voted against a private-public partnership for Winnipeg's Disraeli Bridge and Freeway, and endorsed Jim Maloway's proposal to expand the bridge from four to six lanes.[38]

Thomas opposed plans for Winnipeg to spend $7 million to subsidize a Canada Inns private water park, expressing concern that low-income residents would not be able to afford access to the site.[39] In March 2009, she supported an unsuccessful motion by councillor Dan Vandal that would have banned corporate and union donations in municipal elections.[40]

In September 2010, Thomas announced she would retire rather than seek reelection in the following month's municipal elections.[41] She was succeeded on the council by Thomas Steen.

Federal politics[edit]

Thomas endorsed Bill Blaikie's bid for the federal New Democratic Party leadership in 2002. When Blaikie announced his retirement in 2007, she announced that she would consider seeking the party nomination for Elmwood—Transcona in the 2008 federal election.[42] She eventually decided to stay in municipal politics.

Electoral record[edit]

2006 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood-East Kildonan Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
(x)Lillian Thomas 4,945 57.65
David J. Danyluk 1,657 19.32
Wally Roth 1,585 18.48
Isaiah Oyeleru 390 4.55
Total valid votes 8,577 100.00

2002 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood-East Kildonan Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
(x)Lillian Thomas 5,971 50.25
Greg Bozyk 2,432 20.47
Ray Brunka 1,931 16.25
Bryan McLeod 1,548 13.03
Total valid votes 11,882 100.00

1998 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
(x)Lillian Thomas 5,725 54.34
Ray Brunka 3,907 37.08
Ed Pilbeam 904 8.58
Total valid votes 10,536 100.00

1995 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
(x)Lillian Thomas 4,005 37.77
Ray Brunka 3,127 29.49
Henry McDonald 1,742 16.43
Ed Mullis 745 7.02
Stefan Sigurdson 535 5.04
Michael Keating 451 4.25
Total valid votes 10,605 100.00

1992 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
(x)Lillian Thomas 6,708 57.99
Patrice McGrath 3,090 26.71
John Kubi 1,770 15.30
Total valid votes 11,568 100.00

1989 Winnipeg municipal election, Councillor, Elmwood Wardedit
Candidate Total votes % of total votes
Lillian Thomas 2,333 48.97
(x)Alf Skowron 1,954 41.02
Mark Miller 477 10.01
Total valid votes 4,764 100.00

49 out of 51 polls reporting.

All electoral results from 1995 onward are provided by the City of Winnipeg. Results from 1989 and 1992 are taken from the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper.


  1. ^ Pagtakhan was styled as Secretary of Aboriginal Opportunities.
  2. ^ Nick Martin, "Can WIN broaden its base? ...", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 June 1995.
  3. ^ Val Werier, "Ban mosquito fogging forever" [editorial], Winnipeg Free Press.
  4. ^ Dan Lett, "Alliance approves postings: Civic factions unite to bypass mayor", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1993.
  5. ^ Nick Martin, "Arena-boosting kitty trimmed", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 October 1994. See also Dan Lett, "WIN airs budget with bigger tax hike", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 February 1994.
  6. ^ Nick Martin, "Bridge over troubled body", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 September 1994.
  7. ^ "Sunday decision resented", Winnipeg Free Press, 31 March 1993.
  8. ^ Dan Lett, "Same-sex debate stews", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1994.
  9. ^ Aldo Santin, "Wage rollback abandoned", 21 March 1996, A1.
  10. ^ Also Santin, 'Gang' hands out civic plums, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 November 1996, A4.
  11. ^ Kelly Taylor, "City puts ball park on first with vote", Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 1997, D3. She had previously criticized Mayor Thompson's decision to merge the city's fire and ambulance departments, on the grounds that it was undertaken without due consultation. See Aldo Santin, "Merger expert's hiring draws fire", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 February 1997, A5 and "Council gives blessing to fire-ambulance merger", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 July 1998, A7.. Thomas was one of two councillors to vote against the merger, along with Harry Lazarenko.
  12. ^ "Thompson announces new city team", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 1997, A5.
  13. ^ Aldo Santin, "WIN exiting city scene", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 October 1996, A16.
  14. ^ Linda Quattrin, "10 New Democrats run under banner", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 1998, A3. Thomas was also endorsed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. See Bill Redekop, "Civic union puts out political wish list", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 1998, A3.
  15. ^ Glen MacKenzie, "Crime an issue in hot battle in Elmwood", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 October 1998, A5.
  16. ^ Kim Guttormson, "Murray drafts balanced team", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1998, A3.
  17. ^ Patti Edgar, "Key signatures", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 March 2004, H1.
  18. ^ David O'Brien, "Who wants to spend like a millionaire?", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 December 1999, A1.
  19. ^ Keith McArthur, "Overhaul begins on city political map", Winnipeg Free Press, 31 May 1999, A3.
  20. ^ David O'Brien, "EPC rejects term limits for council", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 October 2000, A14 [term limits]; David O'Brien, "No need to fear fogging, city says", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 June 1999 [fogging].
  21. ^ Nick Martin, "Santos urges gov't to lift rent controls", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 January 2001, A7.
  22. ^ David O'Brien, "Three levels of government provide $2 million", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 July 2001, A6.
  23. ^ Bill Redekop, "U of M professor to lead panel on capital region", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 September 2001, A20.
  24. ^ Leah Hendry, "Mayor keeps inner-circle team intact", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 2002, A3; Mary Agnes Welch, "Rookies win plum positions on city council", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 November 2002, A6.
  25. ^ Leah Hendry, "'All-out' butt ban is near: mayor", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 January 2003, A1; Mary Agnes Welch, "Tide hasn't turned against plan: Murray", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 October 2003, A3.
  26. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Is this Winnipeg's next mayor?", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 2003, D1.
  27. ^ Nick Martin, "Endorsements to remain", Winnipeg Free Press, 8 March 2004, A5.
  28. ^ Patti Edgar, "Ex-councillors trash garbage fees", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 May 2004, B1.
  29. ^ "Mayor Katz moves in", Winnipeg Free Press, 3 July 2004, B1.
  30. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Bus ride enlightens mayor", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 September 2004, B1.
  31. ^ "Who got what", 20 October 2004, A8.
  32. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Trash talk angers union", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 May 2005, B1.
  33. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Katz facing battle to get condos in park", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 September 2005, A1.
  34. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Stalling of urban reserve alleged", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 November 2005, B1.
  35. ^ Bartley Kives, "Backing out on OlyWest bad idea, council told", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 2006, B1.
  36. ^ Mary Agnes Welch, "Thomas leads verbal charge", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 December 2006, B2.
  37. ^ Bartley Kives, "Community centre doomed", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 January 2007, B1.
  38. ^ Bartley Kives, "Mayor blasts MLA on Disraeli plan", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 May 2008, B2.
  39. ^ Bartley Kives, "Water park plan all wet: councillors", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 July 2008, B1; Bartley Kives, "We'll decide on Point Douglas in August: Katz", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 July 2008. B1.
  40. ^ Bartley Kives, "IKEA project gets council's OK", Winnipeg Free Press, 26 March 2009, B1.
  41. ^ "Lillian Thomas reflects on 20-year career". The Herald. Canstar Community Newspapers. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  42. ^ "Thomas considers running for NDP nomination in Elmwood-Transcona", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 March 2007, Web Extra.

External links[edit]