Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Robert Ashley Steen (born August 12, 1933 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; died May 10, 1979) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1966 to 1969, and later served as Mayor of Winnipeg from 1977 to 1979.
Steen was educated at the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Law School, and worked as a barrister and solicitor. He was an advisor to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs in 1961, and to the provincial Minister of Education in 1965.
He was elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1966 provincial election, winning a relatively easy victory in the Winnipeg riding of St. Matthews . For the next three years, he served as a backbench supporter of the governments of Dufferin Roblin and Walter Weir.
The Progressive Conservatives were defeated by the New Democratic Party in the 1969 provincial election, and Steen lost his seat to NDP candidate Wally Johannson by almost 800 votes. He tried to return to the legislature in the 1973 provincial election, but finished third against Liberal leader Izzy Asper in the riding of Wolseley.
He had much greater success in municipal politics. Steen was elected to the Winnipeg City Council in the elections of 1971 and 1974. Originally aligned with the right-wing Independent Citizens Electoral Committee , Steen later broke away from this group and emerged as an independent centrist.
In 1977, Winnipeg mayor Stephen Juba announced his retirement after twenty years in office. He made this announcement in the most dramatic manner possible, waiting until almost the last moment before declaring that he would not file nomination papers (many believe he did this to prevent Bernie Wolfe from organizing a campaign to succeed him).
Steen, who had entered the race as a long-shot candidate, suddenly found himself supported by Juba's north-end support base. Although not a left-wing candidate, he was seen by many on the left as more palatable than Bill Norrie, the candidate of the ICEC. The results were extremely close, with Steen defeating Norrie by 69,818 votes to 67,999.
Steen had developed a reputation as a master dealmaker during his time in council, but had difficulty managing his responsibilities as mayor. A poor media performer, he was often considered as lacking in determination, and accomplished little of significance while in office. He died of a heart attack in early 1979, and Norrie easily won the by-election that followed.
The National Film Board of Canada later issued a documentary film entitled "The New Mayor", covering Steen's rise to power.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details