POLITICS

Andy Wells, Ex-St. John’s Mayor, Launches Mayoral Bid At Tim Hortons

"It’s one of the most interesting places in this city."

08/08/2017 14:48 EDT | Updated 08/08/2017 16:24 EDT
Peter Jones / Reuters
Tim Hortons employees prepare coffee before the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on May 8, 2014.

Andy Wells' foray back into politics started with buying supporters a round of Tim Hortons coffee.

The famously foul-mouthed former St. John's mayor announced his decision to return to municipal politics Tuesday, days after accusing city council of collecting exorbitant salaries.

Instead of splurging for a lectern or other splashy branding common to politicking election candidates, Wells sat at a table and praised the chain's Churchill Square location as the perfect setting.

In the same breath, he also cracked a joke about his long-anticipated announcement to the delight of supporters flanked around him with their free coffees.

"It's one of the most interesting places in this city so I thought, where else would be a better place to announce that I'm not going to run for mayor — actually, I'm going to run for mayor."

He laid out his platform as one that would confront a "taxation crisis" and rise in electricity prices. He also pledged to roll back tax rates to 2015 levels.

Tim Hortons has served as an apt backdrop for photo-ops for politicians keen to connect to Canadians.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper and his successor Justin Trudeau both performed the unofficial political rite during the 2015 election campaign.

Chris Wattie / Reuters
Justin Trudeau speaks during a campaign stop at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Napanee, Ont. on Oct. 12, 2015.

Mark Blinch / Reuters
Stephen Harper hands out coffee at a Tim Horton's restaurant in Fredericton, N.B. on Oct. 16, 2015.

Wells was first elected to council in the late '70s and served as the city's mayor for more than a decade between 1997 and 2008.

Williams calls Wells an 'ignorant pig'

He carved a reputation for speaking his mind during his tenure, never shying from opportunities to tell fellow council members that they're stupid and to shut up.

Wells' abrasive tact nurtured an adverse relationship with former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams.

In an interview amid a 1994 labour dispute gripping the province, Williams told CBC News that Wells deserved "a good shit knocking." When asked why by a reporter, Williams said it was because Wells was "an ignorant pig."

Not everyone is jazzed about Wells' brand of rancour potentially returning to the mayor's office again.

Great Big Sea member Bob Hallett told CBC News last year he would be "horrified" if Wells made a foray back into municipal politics.

"I think what we really need is some new voices and some new blood and some new ideas. Not yesterday's man and yesterday's ideas."

St. John's voters head to the polls on Sept. 26.

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