April 27, 2021
Winnipeg Joins the Race for the 81st Worldcon in 2023
This afternoon, the Winnipeg in 2023 Committee announced its intention to bid for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention. The bid filed the papers required by the World Science Fiction Society Constitution with the DisCon III committee announcing its intent to invite the Worldcon to return to Winnipeg for the first time since 1994.
The Winnipeg in 2023 committee is bidding to host the Worldcon at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for the dates of August 24-28, 2023. The RBC Convention Centre has doubled in size since it hosted the 52nd Worldcon in 1994, and is now Canada’s 4th largest convention centre.
The bid committee boasts 23 experienced convention organizers, with former Worldcon and World Fantasy Convention chairs and enthusiastic local convention runners. The committee is headed by Terry Fong, an experienced Worldcon convention organizer, and includes John Mansfield, the chair of the last Worldcon in Winnipeg, as a senior advisor.
The Winnipeg in 2023 bid is a committee of Cansmof, a Canadian not-for-profit corporation that specializes in running and sponsoring fannish events in Canada. The bid is endorsed by WINSFA Inc., which oversees KeyCon, an annual science fiction convention that has been held in Winnipeg since 1984 over the Victoria Day weekend each year. Although the 2020 and 2021 events are virtual for safety reasons, the 2022 KeyCon is planning an in person event again. More information about KeyCon is available at Keycon.org.
This bid was developed with the support of Tourism Winnipeg. The last Worldcon in Winnipeg generated an estimated Canadian $9M in economic activity and drew nearly 4000 attendees from around the World. The last Canadian Worldcon in Montreal in 2009 had similar numbers. The Winnipeg bid is competing with Chengdu, Sichuan, China and Memphis, Tennessee, USA for the honour of hosting the Worldcon in 2023.
More information about Winnipeg’s bid to host the 2023 Worldcon is available from the committee’s website, winnipegin2023.ca. Direct queries for additional information to info@WinnipegIn2023.ca.
The chair may be directly contacted at chair@WinnipegIn2023.ca.
Our Social Media presence
Facebook: Winnipeg in 23
Copies of our submissions to Site Selection can be downloaded from our website.
With this filing, the decision of DisCon III to ignore the WSFS Constitution and declare that the original deadline for filing bids to be on the ballot for the 2023 Worldcon Site Selection stands even though the convention was postponed from August to December is no longer academic. There's a real case before DC3, and I do hope that DC3 reconsiders their initial decision, not just because I'm a director of Winnipeg's parent non-profit corporation, but more importantly for the reason I cited in my original post about their decision: If a Worldcon ignores a clear directive in the WSFS rules, and for that matter one that is relatively easy to obey and is not ambiguous, what is to stop them from ignoring any rule?
As I noted above, I'm a director of CanSMOF, Winnipeg's parent non-profit corporation. When the CanSMOF board of directors began discussing how they were being approached by Canadian sites interested in hosting Worldcon, I was in a touchy situation, for multiple reasons. Not only am I the Parliamentarian of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting, but I'd also already agreed to run Memphis' WSFS division should they win. I was obliged to navigate a minefield of conflicts of interest.
I had already said that I intended to recuse myself from the head table of the Business Meeting during the relevant portion of the Site Selection Business Meeting at DisCon III. Given my rather loudly-stated opinion about DC3's decision plus the obvious fact that I was potentially personally interested in the result, it seemed best to recuse myself. This despite the fact that Parliamentarian isn't a "line" position. Furthermore, despite what most people seem to commonly assume, the Parliamentarian doesn't make "rulings." What the Parliamentarian does is give "advice." Only the Chair of the meeting can make rulings. The Chair can accept the Parliamentarian's advice, but is not required to do so. Nevertheless, if the announcement of 2023 Worldcon Site Selection balloting turns out to be anything but the usual pro forma reading of the numbers, any advice I might render regarding any substantive issue could certainly be considered tainted, so it's better that I leave the head table and sit with the general membership rather than risk any show of organizational bias on this matter.
I made it very clear to the CanSMOF board that I would abstain on any question before it regarding the selection of a potential site (there were multiple possibilities) and on the question of whether or not the corporation should create a 2023 Worldcon Bid Committee at all (the go/no-go decision). My previously-accepted offer from Memphis would make any vote other than an abstention from me potentially tainted. However, with that in mind, the Board did ask me questions about WSFS rules and I did my best to answer those questions as honestly and impartially as I could. With my potential biases out in the open from the start, I figured everyone could evaluate my advice in that light.
Speaking theoretically, there are probably only about six cities in Canada that have the facilities to host a Worldcon. Two of them are in the east (Toronto and Montréal), and they're both within 800 km of DC, which makes them ineligible to file (even as a write-in bid) under WSFS Constitution Section 4.7. (I've not looked at Ottawa or Quebec City's facilities; if they have enough, then there might be eight potential sites rather than six. Also, any city I name includes anything in that city's general area.) There's little point in bidding for a site that's ineligible in all but the most highly-unlikely scenarios — even more unlikely than the combination of circumstances that crashed the site selection at the 2011 Westercon, because Westercon's rules are subtly different from Worldcon's, and anyway, it seems unlikely to me that the existing bids would drive away so many supporters that None of the Above would win.
There are two plausible sites in western Canada (Vancouver and Calgary), but they have a somewhat less obvious political flaw, in that they're less than 800 km from Seattle, which is bidding for 2025, The 2025 Worldcon will be selected at the 2023 Worldcon. A Worldcon selected for one of those cities would automatically disqualify Seattle's bid. Bidding is hard enough without borrowing trouble by creating a group (Seattle's supporters) that automatically would be biased against voting for you.
That leaves only two significant sites: Edmonton and Winnipeg. CanSMOF selected Winnipeg's proposal, but I'm sure that Edmonton (and Calgary, and Vancouver) would make good places for a Worldcon someday.
Given my involvement with the Memphis committee, I was asked to open communication with them on Winnipeg's behalf. I had a nice conversation with Cliff Dunn, co-chair of Memphis, and I found myself somewhat unexpectedly in a group conversation with Winnipeg's bid chair (Terry Fong) and one vice chair (Linda Ross-Mansfield) and Memphis' co-chair, Kate Secor. This happened a few days before the Winnipeg bid was officially filed and the press release issued. (There were a few days of delay while the final version of the Tourism Winnipeg package was prepared and signed off by the appropriate person.) The bid was filed with DisCon III several hours before the bid issued the public announcement.
Winnipeg also asked me to run their WSFS division should they win. In order to (in my opinion) give equally fair (or unfair, depending on your point of view) advice to both bids, I am an "official double agent" as a member of both bid committees under the title "WSFS Advisor."
How will I vote? That's between me and my ballot. I wouldn't have agreed to be on either committee if I didn't think either of them could put on a good Worldcon. However, I will say that the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg is one of the best Worldcons I've ever attended, and I would rank it ahead of the one I co-chaired. Incidentally, while the quality isn't that great (it's a VHS-to-digital transfer), here's a video of the 1994 Hugo Awards Ceremony, during which I make a brief appearance (skip to 1:26 to see my five seconds of fame) as the stand-in to accept a Hugo Award for a finalist who apparently never got the letter asking them to designate someone if they weren't attending.
I would, however, encourage anyone who picks either Memphis or Winnipeg as their first choice pick the other one as their second choice. Worldcons are selected by the same preferential-ballot ranked-choice system that the Hugo Awards use. In a multi-way race, members' second preferences could easily make the difference. If no site gets a majority of first-place votes, the lowest-ranked candidate is eliminated (usually this means eliminating the votes for ineligible write-in bids and None of the Above) and their votes redistributed to their next preference, with the process repeating until a candidate polls a majority.
In 1990, in a race between San Francisco, Zagreb and Phoenix on the ballot plus Hawaii as a filed and legitimate write-in bid, San Francisco eventually won, but not until Phoenix was eliminated: most of their votes redistributed to San Francisco, giving us (I was on the bid committee) the 1993 Worldcon. Your lower preferences may be vital, so consider them carefully when you cast your ballot.