Mayoral hopeful Gord Steeves railed against fellow candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis Wednesday afternoon criticizing her campaign manager Peter Dalla-Vicenza for his affiliation with the provincial NDP party.
"Will Judy join me in telling Greg Selinger and the NDP directly and without ambiguity that his policies on debt are damaging our city, and he needs to stop piling debt onto the backs of our citizens?” Steeves said at a press event.
Steeves said provincial debt is “one of the biggest risks” for Winnipeggers and called the connection between former NDP MLA Wasylycia-Leis “undeniable.”
He did not say how he thought Wasylycia-Leis’ former political background would influence her leadership of the city, but called on her to “define her views on current and future debt in this city and she needs to clarify her relationship with this government."
As for Wasylycia-Leis’ campaign manager, Dalla-Vicenza, he is on unpaid leave from his job with the province while he works on Wasylycia-Leis’ campaign.
"I don't believe that's a legal conflict of interest, but I believe it shows poor judgement," Steeves said.
He suggested the dynamic could create undue influence in the mayor’s office by the provincial government.
Steeves has identified himself as a right-leaning candidate who has members of the Conservatives working on his campaign.
The Wasylycia-Leis camp responded with a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying, “Judy has and will always stand up for the city's interest when dealing with any level of government. However, she rejects the approach that Gord Steeves follows. He would rather score short-term points with public tantrums than work for a better deal.”
When asked if Steeves worried his harsh criticism of the province might impair his ability to negotiate with the NDP, which has two years left in its mandate, Steeves said he doesn’t care if they aren’t willing to work with him, “so be it.”
" I am not going to stray away from telling this government, every single citizen that lives in this city and anybody else that wants to listen, that one of the single biggest risks to our economy and our community is the debt this provincial government is piling on to them," he said.
The province’s debt problem is outside the City of Winnipeg’s jurisdiction and the next mayor will have no ability to address it.
Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 22.