Free fruit for Daniel McIntyre voters sours some candidates
Harvey Smith's rivals accuse him of buying votes with produce
Some candidates in Winnipeg's Daniel McIntyre ward say incumbent Harvey Smith is buying people's votes by offering free apples, oranges and bananas.
Smith has given away fruit to about 2,000 seniors in the ward, which he has represented since 1998.
"Last election, one of my opponents gave out candy. We're not giving out candy. Fruit is a lot more wholesome than candy, and we continue to do it because people appreciate it," Smith told CBC News.
Lynn Shapiro says she received three pieces of fruit and a pin from Smith late last month, as did others in the 55-plus residential building where she lives.
Shapiro said Smith's offering will not buy her vote, but at least it's healthier than the coffee, donuts and slab cakes — as well as the pens, flyers and other campaign materials — that other candidates have brought over.
"It was a good touch rather than wasted on paper and stuff that's just going to go into the recycling," she said.
Shapiro also said Smith knows his constituents.
"Many people [in his ward] have low incomes," she said. "Fresh fruit might taste real good towards the end of the month."
Officials with the city clerk's office told CBC News it's illegal if a candidate promises to give out fruit with the promise of votes in return, but free fruit is fair.
Sends wrong message?
But Keith Bellamy, one of the five people challenging Smith in Daniel McIntyre, says there's something rotten about giving free produce to potential voters.
Bellamy added that fruit may be a luxury for some in Daniel McIntyre who have low incomes.
"We know that poverty is an issue. We know that there are issues around making your meals week to week to week," Bellamy said.
"Leaving food behind for people is both generous and admirable, but it might be more generous and admirable if it wasn't happening during the election."
Other candidates weigh in
John Cardoso and Godwin Smith also denounced Smith's tactic, calling it unfair and a form of buying votes.
"Of course it's not fair," said Cardoso. "I can't afford it, and I wouldn't use that tactic even if I could."
Another candidate, Cindy Gilroy, said she sometimes gives out chocolate at seniors' homes.
"I don't think there's bribery in fruit," she said with a laugh.
Also running in Daniel McIntyre is Dave Donaldson, who said he'd rather spend his campaign time focusing on issues in the ward.
"I'm not paying attention to Harvey Smith and what he's trying to do," Donaldson said.
"I have no concern or problem with what Harvey wants to do to win votes."
With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh