Manitoba

Liberals would create safe places program to cut crime

The Manitoba Liberals promise to create a program that would give vulnerable people a safe place to go, 24 hours a day.

Point to Glasgow, Scotland, which went from being 'murder capital' to model for reducing crime

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont says a safe places program would reduce crime. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

The Manitoba Liberals promise to create a program that would give vulnerable people a safe place to go, 24 hours a day.

The party also will create a community initiative to reduce gang violence if they are elected next week, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont announced Tuesday.

The Liberals, who had four MLAs in the last legislative assembly, said they'd work with municipalities and community organizations to invest $5 million annually in safe spaces for the homeless, people experiencing domestic violence and young people who are at risk of being lured by gangs.

"If you have effective programs, you can divert them away from crime and some of it is just keeping them safe," Lamont said.

"Some of it is that you're keeping people safe from being preyed upon."

The party pointed to Glasgow, Scotland, which in 2005 was known as the "murder capital" of Europe, before a public health approach to crime prevention came into effect.

The homicide rate dropped 60 per cent over a decade and other crimes went down, too. Some researchers attributed the drop in serious crime to the fall in youth violence.

Notre Dame Liberal candidate, Donovan Martin, with former Winnipeg police chief, Devon Clunis, who endorsed Martin as a candidate Tuesday. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Lamont also promised to create a 24-hour line that people at risk could text. The line would send the texter information about the nearest safe space, such as a warming centre, for example.

Liberals say PCs let meth crisis spiral

The Liberals said the Progressive Conservative government has watched as the city's meth problem has spiralled out of control, overwhelming police.

The PCs have committed to creating 12 new treatment and waiting spaces for meth users if re-elected next week.

The NDP has promised to open a safe injection site for drug users and to fund a program developed by Main Street Project to address the meth crisis.

The New Democrats also have promised to fund a managed alcohol program that would prescribe a dose of alcohol to chronic alcoholics in a supervised setting to improve daily life and reduce costs to the health-care system.

Notre Dame Liberal candidate Donovan Martin said when he was growing up, there were a lot of after school programs that let kids play sports. 

"It kept us out of the streets," but now there aren't programs after school at many inner-city schools, he said.  

He now sees kids outside selling drugs and committing crimes, and yesterday knocked on a door of a resident who told him her garage was broken into by a teenager. 

"They found him sleeping in the doghouse inside the backyard and the significance of that is she had two big dogs and he was so high, he completely disregarded [them]. There was no regards to life, to safety — he didn't care."

A Salvation Army worker checks on a homeless man staying warm outside Winnipeg's city hall on a winter night in 2018. (Tanner Grywinski/CBC)

Former Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis endorsed Martin as a candidate Tuesday. He has known him for more than two decades and was Martin's mentor when he was a student at Gordon Bell High School. 

Tories promise $8M to fight crime

The Progressive Conservatives said they have already invested in many of the initiatives the Liberals promised Tuesday, including $100,000 for the West End 24-hour safe space operated by the Spence Neighbourhood Association.

PC campaign spokesperson Kevin Engstrom said the Tories will invest nearly $8 million to help police fight gangs and criminals and provide additional supports for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. 

"While the Liberals talk a good game, the PC Party has shown its commitment to making our streets safer for all Manitobans."

The NDP pointed out when it was in power it created the Lighthouse crime prevention program to provide supports for youth.

"Only the NDP can form a government that will make safe spaces for kids a reality," said Emily Coutts, an NDP campaign spokesperson.

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About the Author

​Austin Grabish landed his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. In 2019, he was on the ground in northern Manitoba covering the manhunt for B.C. fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, which attracted international attention. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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