Former Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra executive director Trudy Schroeder is expected to take up the NDP baton at a Fort Whyte riding byelection nomination meeting Wednesday night.
"This is a good time for me to run," said the 62-year-old recently. "I’ve always been totally fascinated by public policy and government.
"In a byelection, people can send a message to the legislature. I think even people who have voted Conservative for many years can send a message and say: we can do better."
NDP Leader Wab Kinew sang the praises for Schroeder, who was with the WSO for 13 years before parting ways this year. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival from 1999 to 2008.
"Trudy is an excellent candidate for Fort Whyte," said Kinew.
"Not only has she lived in the community for decades, she’s deeply in touch with the needs of families who live there — be that seniors in need of better health care, families looking for good opportunities for their kids, or hard-working professionals who want respect from their government."
The Fort Whyte seat is currently vacant, following the retirement of former Tory premier Brian Pallister, who held the riding from 2012 to 2021.
The date of the byelection has yet to be declared. Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers player Willard Reaves will carry the Liberal banner; the PCs have yet to name a candidate.
Since its creation in a boundary redrawing in 1999, the Tories have won all general elections (six) and byelections (two) in its history.
During her career, Schroeder has embraced New Democratic values of equal opportunity and celebrating community while balancing the books, Kinew said.
"To Trudy, access to the arts is an important ingredient for a successful province, alongside a resilient health-care system, supported schools and good jobs for all Manitobans. I know that, if elected, she will fight hard to make life easier and more affordable for Fort Whyte families."
Schroeder, who is married and has two daughters, said her father, a teacher, was a "firm NDP supporter." When she was 18, in 1977, she was asked to give the nomination speech for then-premier Ed Schreyer.
"I let my dad do it because he was Ed Schreyer’s roommate at university," she said. "Maybe it was inevitable for me to run."
Schroeder was born in Winnipeg and lived in Clover Plains before her family moved into the city.
While in high school, she took music lessons from the WSO’s clarinet player and later studied voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
She credits her volunteer time with Canada World Youth and its exchange term in Senegal, while still a teen, as being "transformative."
"In a byelection, people can send a message to the legislature. I think even people who have voted Conservative for many years can send a message and say: we can do better." –Trudy Schroeder
During her time at the WSO — Schroeder is the longest serving executive director in its seven-decade history — she helped its annual budget double to $11 million (from $5.7 million) and its endowment fund triple to $11.1 million (from $3.3 million).
Schroeder hopes to bring that money sense to government.
"We need a thriving business sector here — they create jobs," she said. "And the voluntary sector is important, too. That’s where we create the community we want to live in."
Schroeder attended the University of Winnipeg and Laval University in Quebec City, where she graduated with a bachelor of music in 1983.
She later received a certificate in arts administration from the University of Ottawa in 1995, a masters of business administration from the University of Manitoba in 2004, and received executive education at Harvard Business School in 2011.
Schroeder has served as chairwoman of Orchestras Canada and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, as well as volunteered on numerous boards, including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Canadian Mennonite University, Concordia Hospital, Concordia Hospital Foundation, and Canadian Conference of the Arts.
Schroeder received the Mayor’s Award for Volunteerism in 2010, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee award in 2013, and was inducted into the Order of Manitoba in 2019.
"Democracy only works if we have different concerns and perspectives," she said. "This could be an opportunity for my neighbours. It is not a traditional NDP riding, but I like to vote for the best candidate.
"And I’ve surprised people before."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.