Indigenous mom responds to Steeves: Got change? You got my vote

I may vote in this election because I want change. Not the kind in your pocket. You can save that for your kid’s piggy bank.

Gord Steeves breaks silence to defend wife, tries to explain racist comments

Gord Steeves and his wife, Lorrie, have been under a heated spotlight about racist comments she made on Facebook. (CBC)

Full disclosure: I have never, not once in 20+ years, voted for a Winnipeg Mayor.

I’ve come close a few times but my X has yet to mark a box.

I can’t get past the feeling that the mayoral race in this prairie burg is less about who the best person is to lead and more about who has the most influential friends.

It’s kind of like voting for prom king and queen. I didn’t vote in that pretty horse race either.

But I may vote in this election because I want change. Not the kind in your pocket. You can save that for your kid’s piggy bank.

Not the change that poor, poor Lorrie Steeves was repeatedly and (allegedly) abusively asked for by the “drunken natives” she says litter our downtown skywalks.

Nor am I interested in the apparently bottomless pit of the so-called generous taxpayer money that Mrs. Steeves donates to keep our “sorry asses on welfare.” Keep it.

I don’t want that kind of change.

Let’s face it, that same old privileged and pampered opinion is a dime a dozen around these parts.

Just read the endless list of ugly comments following the story about Lorrie Steeves’ racist rant on Facebook that recently came to light, casting a long shadow on her husband’s mayoral campaign.

Still, it would be four days before Gord Steeves addressed the controversy.

Finally facing the media for the first time Tuesday, Steeves, a seasoned politician and lawyer who should know better, first tried to avoid it. 

Head down, he dove into a campaign announcement before the throng demanded answers.

“My wife was scared, and she was very angry,” he repeated over and over, trying to justify her 2010 post.

Steeves said the racist remark was sparked after she says she was accosted by aggressive panhandlers on two occasions, including once with her children.

He assured media that his wife is not a racist and that she made the comments out of fear.

Then, Steeves dismissed it, “She has apologized.”

Right. So why did she make the racial reference at all? If those panhandlers were Ukrainian or Chinese would she point that out? Why take out that giant brush and paint us all scary savage red?

Because that’s what racism does. It only sees what it wants to see. It’s ugly. It’s mean. It is angry and breathes fear like air.

Even though all panhandlers are not native and not all natives are not panhandlers or on welfare Lorrie Steeves chose to racially profile. She chose those words. She chose to share them with the public. She did not explain or amend them until she was caught.

The only reason she apologized at all is because her husband is running for mayor.

Before you mutter, “Oh, well he didn’t say it,” think about this: Would you marry someone with those opinions if you didn’t feel the same way? Kind of makes you wonder what they talk about over dinner. Cleaning up the downtown of drunks and drug addicts, as per a certain campaign promise maybe?

That’s the other thing about racism, it always reveals itself. 

Four years or four days, it eventually comes out. No matter how deep your pockets. No matter what words you spin. No matter how many apologies you pile on top.

And Mr. and Mrs. Steeves, your racism is showing.

Because I never want my children on the receiving end of your hatred, I will stand up and say no. I will take part in your system to fight against it.

I will vote. My choice for mayor is simple math.

Got change? You can buy my vote.

Rosanna Deerchild lives in Winnipeg. She is an indigenous mother, broadcaster and writer — but not a panhandler.


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