A Few Minutes With...Daryl Bonar

It's been nearly a month since his 3rd-place finish during the election, but mayoral candidate Daryl Bonar has no plans on giving up on his political future.


"I ACTUALLY, genuinely thought I could win," Daryl Bonar said after coming in third during the recent election that had the 32-year-old real estate investor running for Edmonton's Mayor. "I was under no illusions. I knew I was a long shot, but I was in it to win it."

Insistent on not fading into the murkiness that rarely eludes electorals after their exhaustive campaigns, Bonar has not exactly thrown in the towel when it comes to his political hopes. But rather than running for the Mayor's job next time, Bonar is considering a seat in City Council three years from now.

Bonar, a former mixed martial arts fighter and Canadian Forces communications officer, has also been encouraged to run for both provincial and federal parties. And why not? Entering a race as a "young & inexperienced" underdog, Bonar still gained over 20,000 votes on October 18, enough for a respectable third. It's also more than double the combined votes for 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th place mayoral candidates.

Had Bonar come out victorious--and in a way, he did--many of his views, both short term and long term, for our city contradicted incumbent Stephen Mandel's, and we'd have seen a major shift in direction. Bonar was not able to conjure up enough support to officially present his ideas to council. Ideas that would effect all current local debates, from LRT expansion and crime rates to the City Centre Airport closure and the proposed downtown arena complex.

I Heart really dropped the ball with our interview with the Vancouver native and father of two, who agreed to answer some of our questions before the October election. For that I apologize, but because Bonar remains a potential candidate for future elections, and had a sizable impact on the municipal vote, we're gonna share his responses with you, nearly a month after Mandel was re-elected as Edmonton's Mayor.

I'd like to thank Mr. Bonar for his time, and hope him all the best in his plans for the future, whether they be political or not. Now, lets spend a few minutes with Daryl Bonar.

Part I:

-You spent two tours in Bosnia as part of the Canadian Forces. Tell us about your experience there. "Bosnia was my first foray outside North America. I quickly realized that the news can only show or tell a very small portion of a story. My first tour may have been the single most eye-opening experience of my life. I witnessed the after effects of a viscous war. The stigmas and scars left on the country and its people were very evident. I began to appreciate Canada and our blessings here in a whole new light.

I grew up in social housing, living in extreme poverty, but my upbringing was a holiday compared to the life that many Bosnians were now facing. Every soldier takes something different away from their experiences. The first six-month tour overseas may have been a period in my life where I experienced the most personal growth. Among the many lessons I learned and carry forward is that I take nothing for granted...and I mean nothing...not my warm shower, not my warm bed, not even my toilet. As well, I have seen what great displays of compassion and teamwork can do to overcome adversity of any type. In short, like many soldiers, I can't say enough about my experiences in the Forces."

-What's the most beneficial thing you learned from your time in mixed martial arts? "A lot has been made about my mixed martial arts experience in this campaign and perhaps not for the right reasons. As a competitive martial artist I experienced a great deal of personal growth through constantly testing myself physically and mentally. Training was grueling but very rewarding. The competitions were emotionally demanding.

Being on national television several times in front of thousands of hollering people was something else. The competitions were some of the greatest tests of strength, speed, endurance and mental fortitude that I have ever been involved in. There are no excuses for defeat as it is not a team sport and as such there is a lot on the line emotionally. The comraderie amongst the athletes was special. These individuals by and large are some of the most humble and gracious people you will ever meet."

-When and why did you end up in Edmonton? "I was posted to the 3rd Batallion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in August 1999 here in Edmonton. I made Edmonton my permanent home, buying property, getting married and raising my family here."

-What is one thing about Edmonton that you think stands out from other Canadian cities? "Many things stand out when talking about Edmonton, but [there is] one I believe stands out above all other. In Edmonton we have this special blue collar entrepreneurial spirit that is second to none. In this city hard work and innovation genuinely pays off. It is common here in Edmonton to have a small business grow to a mid-size business and then grow to a large business. Edmonton has allowed many people to prosper and fulfill their dreams, mine included."

-What do you think are the biggest obstacles our city is facing in moving forward? "I believe the way we conduct business in this city needs to change. Over the past four months on the campaign trail I have talked to Union leaders, Student Associations, Business Associations, and Community League Associations, to name just a few types of organizations. The consensus across the spectrum is that City Hall and City Council do not listen or there is no forum for our community leaders to be heard. Various municipal issues come and go, but we must do a better job of seeking and accepting advice from our community builders and leaders."

-You often speak about what you call the "pebble" analogy. Could you explain what this is? "The pebble analogy refers to paying attention to the small details. A pebble can be anything. For example, a negative pebble would be tossing a cigarette butt out your car window and a positive pebble is someone who takes the time to pick up a piece of trash that they didn't drop. The concept is to put more pebbles in the positive pile than the negative. By slowly adding pebbles to the good pile you will end up with something grand and beautiful before long."

-What are some of the "pebbles" you'd like to propose for a more positive and beautiful Edmonton? "The pebble approach can be applied to almost all problems here in Edmonton and the city's administration has no effect on how these pebbles are placed. One example is the concept of total City revitalization where we can pay attention to the 'pebbles' of dead grass space in our downtown core, and the lack of street performing areas for our talented local artists. If we address these pebbles and others we will have a vibrant, lush city in short order."

Part II:

-What made you decide you wanted to run for Mayor? "I saw something wrong and I decided to step up. I have never been one to sit on the sidelines when I see something that needs to be corrected. I am very proud of my resume and am confident that I have the skill sets and leadership to take this city to new heights. Not one current [pre-Oct. 18] City Councillor decided to step up to the plate and I am diametrically opposed to several of the stances our current Mayor is taking on many pivotal issues.

Make no mistake about it, our city is at a crossroads considering the several large scale decisions we are facing and I wanted to present myself as a viable alternative to the incumbent. After four and a half months on the campaign trail I believe we have shown our campaign to be very credible and a real alternative to the other two major candidates who are backed by large corporations and vested interests."

-What do you say in response to locals who tag you as "young and inexperienced"? "I would like to kindly remind all the naysayers that William Griesbach was 28 when he became the Mayor of Edmonton. He, like me, was an Army lieutenant around the time of his tenure as Mayor. What some people would view as a negative I view as a positive. Now more than ever Edmonton needs a fresh prospective on politics. It is hard to be fresh and innovative when you have made a career living inside the political machine. I may lack political experience but I have a strong resume that demonstrates leadership and commitment throughout my twelve years in the Forces, in my community, and in the economic playing field. I am steadfast in my belief that I will bring a passion and energy this City has not seen in its history."

-Do you think any of your experiences in mixed martial arts or the Canadian Forces may have come into play when making decisions about our city and its citizens? "The intestinal fortitude and discipline required for both has been a driving force for me in this campaign. I have already been faced with several tough and pivotal decisions in the past few months. There are many principles that I carry forward from my career in the CF. The one I hold dear to me and that I attribute much of my success in life to is 'Seek and Accept Advice.' To be a good leader you have to know how to follow as well."

-What is your stance on the whole downtown arena complex? "I am opposed to a tax payer-funded arena. I do support the notion of having a new arena built downtown. It would be foolish to turn away an investor who is pledging a $200 million investment in the area. There are other financial models that can be entertained, which will attract private investors to fund arena construction."

-What would you like to see happen with the City Centre Airport? "It is my hope that we keep the ECCA and honour our lease agreements. I see potential at the 'Muni' beyond general aviation. I am confident that with the right leadership the Muni can become Aerospace West or even Aerospace North taking the title away from Montreal. Aviation is an industry with many sectors such as research & development, manufacturing, and education. This industry is pivotal in diversifying our local economy and has massive potential to create hundreds, if not thousands of high-paying jobs."

Part III (Quick Q's):

-Favourite movie? "Terminator 2. I think it was Arnie's best movie."

-Motto you live by? "The smart man learns from his own mistakes, the wise man learns from others."

-Last CD you bought? "A Queen compilation."

-Best concert you've attended? "Been to some great ones at New City here in town."

-Favourite beer? "Depends on my craving at that moment but it's usually a Heineken or a Corona."

-Any tattoos? "No way, I hate needles."

-Last book you read? "'In Case of Fire' by Spencer Beach, an Edmontonian."

-Favourite TV show? "I don't have much time to watch TV, but when I do I enjoy watching the 'Backyardigans' on Treehouse with my kids."

Thanks, Daryl.

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