Winnipeg mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis has unveiled her safety platform, which calls for more downtown foot patrols and support for agencies that work with at-risk children and youth.
“I’m here to talk about crime prevention made even more critical in the face of the news last night in regard to Helder Serpa,” Wasylycia-Leis said Monday, referring to Serpa, a man fatally stabbed by a stranger over the weekend.
“I see my approach as the dead opposite to Gord Steeves. This is not about bringing in units to round up the panhandlers and get them off the street and get them out of sight and mind,” she said.
Wasylycia-Leis said her strategy is a six-pronged approach that consists of:
- A pledge to make the City of Winnipeg a full partner in the Manitoba government's Block by Block crime prevention program.
- Doubling the number of foot patrols downtown.
- Funding four new crime analysts for the Winnipeg Police Service, with one of the positions to be dedicated to the Block by Block program.
- A commitment to work with Street Reach, an alliance of community agencies, on a strategy to ensure children who run away from home are found safe.
- A pledge to take Winnipeg's lead on the Safe Cities Initiatives, which was launched by the United Nations to stop violence against women and girls.
- Strategies related to housing and youth. Wasylycia-Leis said she will announce those strategies later in her campaign.
Wasylycia-Leis referred to the death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl whose body was found in the Red River on Aug. 17, in pledging her commitment to Street Reach.
While Wasylycia-Leis said her safety strategy is different from that of rival candidate Gord Steeves, both have the same goal.
Wasylycia-Leis has removed an embarrassing photo from her Twitter account after tweeting a snap of herself with Taras Sokolyk at a Ukrainian Independence event over the weekend.
A provincial inquiry found Sokolyk helped hatch a vote-splitting scheme in the 1995 provincial election.
The scheme moved money from the PC Party to a so-called independent candidate, with the aim to take votes from the NDP, Wasylycia-Leis' old party.
“I tweeted that picture of Taras Sokolyk, and, you might find this hard to believe, but I wasn't thinking about those many, many years ago and the vote-rigging scandal," she said. “I've pulled the tweet because I don't want to cause any more embarrassment to Taras Sokolyk. He made a mistake and he's paid for it.”
On Monday, both candidates stressed the need to make downtown Winnipeg a safer place, but Steeves said it needs to be done by “taking back our community.”
“We obviously will never have enough police officers on every street corner in Winnipeg, but what we have to do is make that initial commitment to take back our community and hold it,” said Steeves.
City Councillor and candidate Paula Havixbeck said there needs to be a middle ground, with a combination of social programs and collaboration with police.
Havixbeck said programs like the one that put offers in schools are showing progress.
“I will not rest until we are known as one of the safest cities in Canada. I think that this has to be paramount,” said Havixbeck.
Candidate Brian Bowman thinks the solution has to do with having more people spending time in the downtown area.
“Having a lot more people, living, playing and working downtown is the key,” said Bowman.
Robert Falcon Ouellette said any approach to crime and safety has to be multi-facted.
"Creating safer neighbourhoods in the long-term is about more than just good policing: it is about prevention," he said. "That is partly a matter of planning, economic development and family supports. We should be aiming for safer neighbourhoods with or without a heavy police presence."
Fielding endorses Steeves
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Steeves trumpeted an endorsement from a former city council colleague, Scott Fielding.
Fielding, who is the councillor for St. James-Brooklands, publicly threw his support behind Steeves's campaign on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, he praised Steeves's previous work as a city councillor and said his infrastructure renewal proposal is what the city needs.
- Gord Steeves pledges to freeze property taxes
- Steeves to sell Winnipeg police HQ if elected mayor
- Steeves flip-flops, wants rapid transit axed
- Steeves's pledge to sell city golf courses irks ski club
Nine people are in the running for the mayor's job in the Oct. 22 civic election. The latest candidate, Hazem Aslan, filed his papers at city hall on Friday.
Meanwhile, Fielding is hoping to enter provincial politics: he announced earlier this year that he's seeking the Progressive Conservative Party's nomination in the Kirkfield Park constituency.