Downtown Winnipeg issues take centre stage at Manitoba election debate

Winnipeg's downtown core was front and centre at a debate Monday evening featuring four of the province's political parties.

Public event was hosted by Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari, left, Green Party Leader James Beddome, Progressive Conservative candidate Heather Stefanson and NDP Leader Greg Selinger participate in a debate hosted by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ on Monday evening. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Winnipeg's downtown core was front and centre at a debate Monday evening featuring four of the province's political parties.

About 150 people gathered at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to hear Green Party Leader James Beddome, Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari, NDP Leader Greg Selinger and Progressive Conservative candidate Heather Stefanson talk about their parties' platforms on key downtown issues.

Topics that were discussed included active transportation, affordable housing options, and what each of the parties would do to address homelessness.

"Downtown was put up front and centre when it comes to that issues that our members care about — issues of housing, transportation, safety, inclusion," said Jason Syvixay of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, which organized the event.

He added that there was "great discussion about aboriginal inclusion and how do we involve the aboriginal community in our programs and services."

Syvixay said it was nice to host an election debate so early in the campaign, as doing so brings downtown issues to the forefront in advance of the April 19 vote.

"I think ideas that percolated today were fantastic," he said.

"Hearing from the buzz from people in the audience today, it seems like there's a lot of new issues that have emerged that will continue to drive the election forward."

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