Reg Atkinson

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Reg Atkinson
Mayor of Brandon, Manitoba
In office
Preceded by Rick Borotsik
Succeeded by Dave Burgess
Mayor of Hartney, Manitoba
In office
Preceded by Allan Lougheed
Succeeded by Leo Peloquin
Personal details
Born (1948-03-09) March 9, 1948 (age 69)
Hartney, Manitoba

Reginald C. Atkinson (born March 9, 1948)[1] is a businessman and politician in Manitoba, Canada. He was the Mayor of Brandon, Manitoba from 1997 to 2002, and campaigned for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 2003.

Early life and career[edit]

Atkinson was mayor of Hartney, Manitoba from 1981 to 1989, and owned a small farming implements business in this community before relocating to Brandon in 1994.[2] He was elected as Mayor of Brandon in a by-election on September 24, 1997 after the previous mayor, Rick Borotsik, was elected to the Canadian House of Commons. Atkinson was 49 years old.

Mayor of Brandon[edit]

Hog processing

In late 1999, the president of Maple Leaf Foods announced that Brandon had been selected out of 42 possible communities for construction of a $112 million hog processing plant. Atkinson welcomed the decision, saying that it could increase the city's population by 10,000 (to 50,000) in a short period of time. Maple Leaf selected Brandon, in part, because it was known to be one of the least expensive areas in Canada to raise hogs.[3]

Atkinson spoke against a proposed Clean Environment Commission review of the Maple Leaf project in 1998, describing it as a stalling tactic, and supported provincial Environment Minister Jim McCrae's conclusion that a formal review would not be necessary during the construction phase.[4] He also opposed a request from councillors in the nearby Long Plain First Nation for a federal environmental assessment.[5] Construction of the plant began in April 1998, and operations began in August 1999.[6]

Atkinson was easily re-elected in 1998, defeating two minor challengers who criticized aspects of the Maple Leaf deal.[7] The following year, he led council in approving a plan for the city to own and operate a wastewater treatment plant to serve the Maple Leaf facility.[8] The project ultimately cost $13.5 million (some of which was paid by the province), and was derided by critics as "corporate welfare".[9] The city administrator responded to this charge by arguing that most of the money went to improving Brandon's existing capacity for water and wastewater treatment.[10]

Other issues

Atkinson helped coordinate other projects for the city. Simplot opened a new Brandon facility in 1999, setting up a $230 million plant for liquid and granular fertilizers.[11] The Dutch firm Installatie Techniek Boxmeer set up a plant to manufacture livestock ventilation equipment in the same period.[12]

Aktinson rejected at least two proposals from aboriginal groups to construct a casino in Brandon. He opposes casinos on principle, arguing that they contribute to gambling addictions and provide few social benefits in return. He also opposes the separate taxation system for urban reserve lands, and believes that aboriginal Canadians should fall under the same tax apparatus as non-aboriginals.[13] Notwithstanding his views on casinos, Atkinson supported using Video Lottery Terminals to raise revenues, and rejected calls for a plebiscite on the issue.[14]

Atkinson was a prominent supporter of a plan to move the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from Winnipeg to the Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Brandon, and welcomed Defence Minister Art Eggleton's decision to approve the transfer in early 2001.[15]

Late in his term, Atkinson led council in approving a comprehensive by-law against indoor smoking, with no age limits or exemptions for bars.[16]


Atkinson promoted a "down-to-earth" and populist approach to politics. He wore a loud yellow shirt and happy face tie to an all-candidates debate in 1998, and was quoted as saying, "I don't use a lot of big words because I don't know them".[17] The journal Manitoba Business once described his political style as "gregarious".[2]

Retirement from municipal politics

Atkinson unexpectedly announced that he would not seek re-election in 2002.[18]

Atkinson is the current Reeve of the Rural Municipality of Cornwallis which surrounds Brandon on three sides.

Federal and provincial politics[edit]

Atkinson sought the Canadian Alliance nomination to contest Brandon—Souris in the 2000 federal election. He unexpectedly lost to Gary Nestibo.[19]

He campaigned for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 2003 as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Brandon West, and lost to New Democratic Party incumbent Scott Smith by a wide margin.[20]

Electoral record[edit]

Manitoba general election, 2003: Brandon West
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Scott Smith 5,210 61.02 +11.76 $20,721.62
     Progressive Conservative Reg Atkinson 2,982 34.93 −10.79 $15,828.88
Liberal Candace Sigurdson 346 4.05 −0.04 $2,086.52
Total valid votes 8,538 100.00
Rejected and declined ballots 28
Turnout 8,566 60.43 −12.70
Electors on the lists 14,174

1998 Brandon municipal election, Mayor of Brandonedit
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes Notes
(x)Reg Atkinson 7,752 78.28
Wayne Langlois 1,267 12.79
Dave Kattenburg 884 8.93
Total votes cast 9,903 100.00

113 of 121 polls reporting.

Brandon, Manitoba municipal by-election, September 24, 1997, Mayor of Brandonedit
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
Reg Atkinson elected not listed
Dan Munroe about 200 votes behind not listed
Scott Smith about 400 votes behind not listed
Geoff Borden not listed
three other candidates not listed not listed

Atkinson was elected mayor of Hartney in either 1980 or 1981, and re-elected in 1983 and 1986.

All provincial election information is taken from Elections Manitoba. The 1998 mayoral results are taken from the Winnipeg Free Press, 29 October 1998, A13. The final results did not significantly change Atkinson's margin of victory.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "His Honour, Mr. Business", Manitoba Business, 1 March 1999, p. 14.
  3. ^ Casey Mahood, "Maple Leaf to build $112-million hog plant", Globe and Mail, 3 December 1997, B3; Bill Redekop, "Brandon boom begins", Winnipeg Free Press, 3 December 1997, A1. Brandon's population had increased to 43,000 by 2001. See "Maple Leaf plant sparks growth spurt in Brandon", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 October 2001, A11.
  4. ^ Bud Robertson, "Review could delay hog plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 1998, A9; Helen Fallding, "Hog plant allowed to skip hearing", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 September 1998, A1.
  5. ^ Helen Fallding, "Band wants feds to halt hog plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 July 1998, A8.
  6. ^ Bud Robertson, "McCain breaks ground on massive Brandon plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 April 1998, B6; Helen Fallding, "New economic era begins when first hog butchered", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 August 1999, A1.
  7. ^ Helen Fallding, "Brandonites fork over big, fat mandate to pro pork-plant mayor", Winnipeg Free Press, 29 October 1998, A12.
  8. ^ Helen Fallding, "Brandon council votes to keep waste plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 February 1999, A3.
  9. ^ "His Honour, Mr. Business", Manitoba Business, 1 March 1999, p. 14. See "Waste water treatment plant announced for Brandon", M2 Presswire, 14 May 1999.
  10. ^ Helen Fallding, "Give Schneider's 'well-run' city", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 December 1999, A9.
  11. ^ Geoff Kirbyson, "Simplot enjoys growth spurt", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 September 1999, B9. See also Helen Fallding, "Simplot plays ball with Brandon", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 January 2000, A8.
  12. ^ Geoff Kirbyson, "Brandon chosen as site for $1-million plant", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 September 1998, B6.; "Maple Leaf plant attracts Dutch manufacturer", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 1999, p. 3.
  13. ^ Helen Fallding, "Minnedosa Monte Carlo of the Prairies?", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 November 1998, A4; Helen Fallding, "Brandon mayor gives first nation cold shoulder", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 January 2000, A2. Atkinson was once quoted as saying, "It will be a frosty day in July before I sign the papers to allow a casino in Brandon. It will just be a vacuum cleaner that will suck people's money right out of their pockets." See Daniel Lett, "Casino plans luck out for 5 first nations", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 2000, A3.
  14. ^ Bud Robertson, "Few eager to hold VLT vote", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 July 1998, A4.
  15. ^ Helen Fallding, "Task force to help new residents", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 April 2001, B2.
  16. ^ Leah Hendry, "No public smoking indoors, period!", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 April 2002, A12; "Brandon passes what is being called toughest smoking ban in North America", Canadian Press, 28 May 2002, 20:12.
  17. ^ Helen Fallding, "Brandon mayoral hopefuls mark territory", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 October 1998, A3.
  18. ^ "Atkinson won't run again", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 August 2002, A10. This article indicates that Atkinson's relationship with Rick Borotsik, whom he replaced as mayor, was very poor.
  19. ^ "Nestibo gets nod", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 October 2000, A3; Helen Fallding, "Alliance stars faltering", Winnipeg Free Press, 26 October 2000, A1.
  20. ^ Mike McIntyre, "NDP scores historic victory in Brandon", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 2003, B2.