Rick Borotsik

Rick Borotsik

Rick Borotsik (born September 8, 1950) is a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served as Mayor of Brandon from 1989 to 1997, was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1997 to 2004, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 2007. Borotsik is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

Early life and career

Borotsik was born to a Ukrainian family in Brandon, was raised in that city, and graduated from Brandon University in 1971. [For Borotsik's background, see Jack Cahill, "Canada's heartland struggles to be heard", "Toronto Star", 23 March 1991, D1.] He was elected to the Brandon City Council in 1977 and served for three terms before standing down in 1985. [Bill Redekop, "The right stuff", "Winnipeg Free Press", 28 July 1996, B1; [http://www.rickborotsik.ca/about.htm "Rick Borotsik - Our Best Voice", Rick Borotsik campaign website] , 2007, accessed 8 October 2007.]

He joined the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 1978. Borotsik sought the provincial PC party's nomination for Brandon West in the buildup to the 1986 provincial election, but lost to Jim McCrae. [Paul Samyn, "Just say 'aahh'", "Winnipeg Free Press", 14 April 1996, B1.]

Borotsik was an employee of the shopping-centre firm Bramalea Inc. during the 1980s. He was transferred from Brandon to Calgary in 1985, and again to the firm's head office in Toronto one year later. He remained the city for three years, and became director of 32 centres. Finding it difficult to adjust to life in Toronto, he returned to Brandon in 1989. He ran for mayor in that year's municipal election, and won an upset victory over four-term incumbent Ken Burgess. [Bill Redekop, "The right stuff", "Winnipeg Free Press", 28 July 1996, B1.]

Mayor of Brandon

A colourful and bombastic figure, Borotsik was elected mayor on a platform of aggressive municipal development and soon became known for his efforts to promote the city. He brought the Canada Games and the World Curling Championships to Brandon, and presided over a period of significant agribusiness expansion. [Bill Redekop, "Brandon fertilizer plant to triple in Simplot plan", "Winnipeg Free Press", A1; Scott Taylor, "Manitoba's sport capital is Brandon", "Winnipeg Free Press", 11 August 1997, D3.] He was also given credit for saving the city's airport. [Bill Redekop, "The right stuff", "Winnipeg Free Press", 28 July 1996, B1.]

He supported the introduction of Video Lottery Terminals into Brandon, and pressured the provincial government to turn over VLT revenues to the municipalities. He also called for a casino to be set up in the city, and endorsed unrestricted Sunday shopping. [Peter Moon, "Manitoba leads way in legalized gambling", "Globe and Mail", 11 May 1992, A7; Randy Turner, ""Rural Manitoba wants its cut", "Winnipeg Free Press", 16 March 1993; Arlene Billinkoff, "Middle ground vanishes" [editorial] , "Winnipeg Free Press", 23 November 1993. Brandon voted 6-4 against Sunday shopping in early 1994, to Borotsik's disappointment. See Randy Turner, "Brandon rejects retail Sunday", "Winnipeg Free Press", 9 February 1994. Brandon voters later approved Sunday shopping in a referendum. See Bud Robertson, "Brandon says yes to Sunday shopping", "Winnipeg Free Press", 27 October 1995, A2.] In 1992, he supported the Charlottetown Accord on constitutional reform. ["Mayors across Canada support accord" [press release] , "Canada NewsWire", 21 October 1992.]

Member of Parliament

;First term (1997-2000)

Borotsik sought and won the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada's nomination for Brandon-Souris in the 1997 federal election. The party had been reduced to only two seats in the previous election, and was trying to rebuild its support base. Borotsik was a strong supporter of party leader Jean Charest, and was considered a star candidate. He indicated that he opposed the ideology of the rival, right-wing Reform Party of Canada, which he described as a "flash-in-the-pan regional party" with no national perspective. [Bill Redekop, "The right stuff", "Winnipeg Free Press", 28 July 1996, B1.] He was narrowly elected over both a Reform candidate and Liberal incumbent Glen McKinnon.

The Liberals under Jean Chrétien were re-elected to a second consecutive majority government in the 1997 election, while the Progressive Conservatives won twenty seats for a fifth-place finish. Borotsik was his party's only elected representative from western Canada. He served critic for agriculture, the Canadian Wheat Board and western economic diversification, and had unofficial duties for the western provinces. [Paul Samyn, "Manitoba MPs a rainbow", "Winnipeg Free Press", 22 September 1997, A8.]

Charest resigned as party leader in 1998, despite requests from Borotsik and other MPs that he remain in the position. [Edison Stewart, "Tory MPs want leader to stay", "Winnipeg Free Press", 4 March 1998, A6.] Borotsik was subsequently chosen as national caucus chairman, ["Canada's harried Tories pick temporary leader", "Reuters News", 1 April 1998. Borotsik was initially considered as a prominent candidate to replace Charest as interim leader, but this position went to Elsie Wayne instead. See Paul Samyn, "Brandon's former mayor willing to steer the Tory ship", "Winnipeg Free Press", 26 March 1998, A1.] and endorsed Joe Clark's successful bid to succeed Charest as leader. [Graham Fraser, "Clark launches bid for a comeback", "Globe and Mail", 26 June 1998, A4.] Borotsik was also an opponent of the United Alternative, a Reform-sponsored drive for a new political party that resulted in the creation of the Canadian Alliance. ["Reform party destined to follow Socreds into obscurity: Tory MP", "Winnipeg Free Press", 4 November 1998, A7; Joel-Denis Bellavance and Graeme Hamilton, "Brison vacating seat, not Tory party: 'This is not a funeral'", "National Post", 25 July 2000, A6.]

Borotsik opposed the Canadian gun registry, which he described as unworkable. [Rosemary Spiers, "Gun lobby off mark over gun registration", "Toronto Star", 24 September 1998, A23.] He endorsed a 1998 bill that reversed Louis Riel's conviction for treason, and recognized him as a Father of Confederation. [Graham Fraser, "MPs unite to reverse Riel's conviction", "Globe and Mail", 15 May 1998, A11.] Later, he broke with his party's official position to support the Chrétien government's Clarity Bill. [Paul Samyn, "Chrétien repays Clark for attacks", "Winnipeg Free Press", 25 November 2000, A19.] There was speculation that Borotsik would seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba in 2000, but he declined. [Kim Guttormson, "Ex-premier not gone yet, not forgotten by contenders either", "Winnipeg Free Press", 26 September 1999, A1.]

;Second term (2000-04)

Borotsik was narrowly re-elected in the 2000 federal election over a candidate of the Canadian Alliance, as the Liberals won a third consecutive majority government nationally. The Progressive Conservatives fell to twelve seats and remained the fifth-largest party in parliament, but avoided the loss of official party status that some had feared. Borotsik was subsequently named as party whip and Critic for Agriculture, Indian Affairs and the Canadian Wheat Board. ["Tory Leader Joe Clark announces caucus critics for Commons return", "Canadian Press", 16 January 2001, 14:56.]

Borotsik took part in preliminary discussions between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance in early 2001. [Sheldon Alberts and Joel-Denis Bellavance, "Tory-Alliance chat my idea, Day says", "National Post", 1 March 2001, A6.] He said that a "mutual compromise" would have to be reached before the next election, in order to prevent the Liberals from remaining in power. [Bruce Cheadle, "Unite-the-right talk belies grassroots ties to Alliance, Tory party brands", "Canadian Press", 25 March 2001, 14:17.] No agreements were reached, and Borotsik later called for disgruntled Canadian Alliance members to rejoin the Progressive Conservative Party. [Bruce Cheadle, "Conservatives invite disgruntled Alliance supporters back into Tory fold", "Canadian Press", 24 April 2001, 16:50.]

Clark resigned as Progressive Conservative leader in mid-2002. There were rumours that Borotsik would run to succeed him, but he declined and endorsed fellow westerner Jim Prentice. [Brian Laghi, "Lord's charismatic vision woos Tory party faithful", "Globe and Mail", 24 August 2002, A1; Paul Samyn, "Borotsik rejects leadership call", "Winnipeg Free Press", 24 August 2002, B1; Bill Curry and Sheldon Alberts, "MP calls on party to join with Tories: Toews backing Prentice", "National Post", 8 March 2003, A12.] Prentice was defeated by Peter MacKay on the final ballot of the party's 2003 leadership convention; Borotsik resigned as party whip, but remained Agriculture Critic. [Allison Lawlor, "MacKay backs free trade", "Globe and Mail", 2 June 2003.]

During this period, Borotsik surprised some political observers by declaring his support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. He also endorsed the principles of public health care and employment insurance, and became associated with the Red Tory wing of his party. [Brian Laghi, Kim Lunman and Campbell Clark, "Liberals could lose same-sex free vote", "Globe and Mail", 14 August 2003, A1; Bill Curry and Sean Gordon, "Senior Tories vow to vote against deal: But most on side, MP says", "National Post", 17 October 2003, A4.]

MacKay and Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper announced plans to merge their parties in late 2003. Borotsik strongly opposed this decision, and said that he would not be a candidate for the merged party if Stephen Harper was chosen as its leader. [Campbell Clark, "MacKay faces criticism", "Globe and Mail", 16 October 2003, A1; Brian Laghi, "Tory MP says no to running for Harper", "Globe and Mail", 19 November 2003, A5.] He openly considered joining the Liberals once the merger was finalized, and was on hand to provide "moral support" for Progressive Conservative MP Scott Brison when he announced his own defection to the Liberal Party. [Mark Kennedy, "Brison defection called 'vindictive': MacKay critical of MP's decision to join Martin Liberals", "National Post", 11 December 2003, A6.]

Borotsik ultimately chose to sit with the merged Conservative Party of Canada until the next election, but made no secret of his opposition to Stephen Harper and the new party's social conservatism. He turned down an offer to become Agriculture Critic, and did not stand in the 2004 campaign. [Paul Samyn, "Borotsik turns down job as chief agriculture critic", "Winnipeg Free Press", 22 January 2004, A5.] Just before election day, he publicly endorsed the Liberals. [John Kernaghan, "Tory trio backs Grit hopeful for Haldimand-Norfolk", "Hamilton Spectator", 15 June 2004, A8.] Borotsik supported Belinda Stronach's decision to leave the Conservatives for the Liberals in 2005, and indicated that he would consider running for either the Liberal Party of Canada or the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba at some time in the future. [John Cotter, "Western Canadians weigh in on Belinda Stronach's jump to Liberals", "Canadian Press", 17 May 2005, 22:17.]

Member of Provincial Parliament

Stuart Murray announced his resignation as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba in 2005. Some considered Borotsik as a possible replacement, but he quickly ruled himself out as a candidate. [Mia Rabson, "Murray not in House, likely stepping down today", "Winnipeg Free Press", 8 November 2005, B3.] In June 2006, however, he announced that he would run for the party in the next provincial campaign. [Martin Cash, "Borotsik to run for Conservatives", "Winnipeg Free Press", 8 June 2006, A7.]

He was narrowly elected in the 2007 election, defeating New Democratic Party cabinet minister Scott Smith by 56 votes in Brandon West. Borotsik provoked some controversy when he announced that he favoured an end to Manitoba's tuition freeze; the party's official policy was to keep the freeze in place. [Mia Rabson, "Tory university plank shouted down", "Winnipeg Free Press", 17 May 2007, A11.]

The New Democratic Party was re-elected to a third consecutive majority government in the 2007 election, and Borotsik entered the legislature as a member of the Official Opposition. ["The swing's the thing", "Winnipeg Free Press", 22 May 2007, A4.] In September 2007, he was appointed to the high-profile position of Finance Critic. [Mary Agnes Welch, "Tories revamp chorus of critics", "Winnipeg Free Press", 8 September 2007, A8.] Later in the year, he described Manitoba's increasing debt as an economic danger signal. [Mary Agnes Welch, "Province questions StatsCan's debt figures", "Winnipeg Free Press", 12 December 2007, A6.]

Table of offices held

"Note: It is not clear from reports in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper if Borotsik's ward designation changed in 1980 or 1983. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, this article assumes that the change took place in 1980. Lynne Little was elected to represent Brandon's fourth ward in the 1986 municipal election, and is listed as Borotsik's successor accordingly. It is not clear if another person represented the ward from 1985 to 1986."

Electoral record

Note: Reports in the "Winnipeg Free Press" newspaper do not indicate if Borotsik was elected in Ward Three or Ward Four in the 1980 election. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, this article assumes the former.

External links

* [http://www.rickborotsik.ca/ Rick Borotsik's official website]


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