In a surprise move, a long-serving member of city council has stepped down.
Effective immediately, Jim McCrae has resigned his position as councillor for Meadows Ward. He'll be pursuing a professional opportunity in Winnipeg that he says will leave him unable to fulfill the duties of a Brandon city councillor.
McCrae's career as a Brandon city councillor includes two different wards and dates back to the early
1980s. Between 1986–99, he was also an MLA for Brandon West for the Progressive Conservative party. McCrae was a cabinet minister for many of those years, including stints as the Attorney-General, the Health Minister, the Environment Minister and House Leader.
Jim McCrae — timeline
Born in Vacouver on Sept. 19, 1948, Jim McCrae was educated at Vincent Massey High School in Brandon and the Bryan College of Court Reporting in Los Angeles, Calif.
He served as a court reporter for a number of years, and was a Hansard reporter for the Canadian House of Commons from 1975 to 1982.
In 1983, McCrae was elected as alderman for Victoria Ward in Brandon.
In 1986, as a Progressive Conservative, he defeated NDP candidate Arnold Grambo by 1,409 votes in Brandon West, joining the opposition.
In 1988, the government fell. McCrae was re-elected over the Liberal candidate John Worley by 1,421 votes, with NDP falling to third place.
In the PC minority government, McCrae was appointed as Attorney-General, as well as Ministry of Justice. In 1990, he was given the addional responsibilities of being Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, and Minister of Cooperative Development, with responsibility for Constitutional Affairs and the Liquor Control Act.
He was re-elected in 1990, defeating NDP candidate (and future mayor) Shari Decter Hirst. He was kept in the Justice portfolio and against given responsibility for Constitutional Affairs and the Liquor Control Act, as well as Corrections and most of the Corrections Act.
In 1993, a cabinet shuffle named McCrae the Health Minster.
He was again re-elected in 1995. Another cabinet shuffle in 1997 made him the Minister of the Environment and Gvoernment House Leader, with additional responsibility for MPIC.
In a final cabinet shuffle, in 1999, McCrae was named Minister of Education and Training.
In the 1999 election, McCrae was defeated by NDP candidate Scott Smith by 352 votes. He then became a realtor.
McCrae ran for mayor in 2002, in the race to succeed Reg Atkinson, but lost to Dave Burgess. He did not seek re-election to the provincial legislature in 2003.
In 2006, McCrae was re-elected Brandon City Council after a 20-year hiatus, defeating Gladden Smith and Leo Boivin in the race for Meadows Ward.
He was acclaimed in 2010. It was the first time in 27 years that he hadn't had to contest an election.
City manager Scott Hildebrand said that McCrae’s experience, wisdom and calm approach will be greatly missed.
"Jim has always been somebody who I could go to for advice and leadership since I began my role with the City, and he’s never let me down in that regard," Hildebrand said. "His passion for his role as a councillor and his commitment to the residents of Brandon is admirable. I wish Jim all the best with this new opportunity."
In a statement, McCrae said that he would always look fondly upon his time on city council.
"The part I will remember most and best is the spirit of teamwork for the benefit of our city," he said. "I really appreciate the sincere commitment to our city that I have witnessed in each and every colleague around the council table and I am leaving confident that we have built a bright future for Brandon."
McCrae served as deputy mayor for the first year after the 2010 election, which Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said was extemely valuable.
"I can’t thank him enough," Decter Hirst said. "Not only did he have wise advice for me from his previous years on Council, but he had a way of giving that wise advice so that it sunk in.
McCrae’s departure leaves an empty seat on Brandon City Council and a municipal byelection will be held to fill the seat. The city says that preliminary planning is already underway by the City Clerk’s Office to determine a byelection date and work through other details.
In the meantime, University Ward Councillor Jeff Harwood has agreed to look after any issues or concerns
from Meadows Ward residents. Harwood can be reached by telephone at 204-727–2270 or via email