Mayoral candidate Rick Shone calls for firing of Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth
Rival candidate Shaun Loney pledges more jobs; Scott Gillingham pitches plan on construction spending
A Winnipeg mayoral candidate says one of his first acts if he's elected will be to fire police Chief Danny Smyth, although the mayor does not have that power.
"It's never a good feeling to stand and call one person out and one leadership position out, but going forward as a new mayor, there's no way that I could see that we could continue on with the current leadership," Rick Shone said Thursday, standing in front of the Winnipeg police headquarters on Graham Avenue.
Problems with morale among police officers, rising violent crime and falling public trust in police are all reasons Shone cited for the city to replace Smyth as chief.
Shone acknowledged the mayor does not have the authority to unilaterally hire or fire the police chief. The Winnipeg Police Board has that power, with five to seven members of that board appointed by city council.
Shone said he would sit on the police board until he delivered on that promise and a replacement for Smyth took over.
Smyth's contract expires at the end of November 2023.
WATCH | Winnipeg mayoral candidate calls for firing of police chief:
As an example of why he feels the chief should lose his job, Shone pointed to the Winnipeg Police Association blaming Smyth for morale problems among officers following the suicide of a Winnipeg police constable last year.
Shone also criticized comments by the chief earlier this summer, after a string of violent incidents at The Forks, when Smyth said "this is not new."
The mayoral candidate compared the situation to a losing sports team.
"We can work with the team and change the players and try to inspire them and motivate them as much as we can, but at some point, we all know that it comes time where we have to change the captain," Shone said.
"We have to change the leadership and in this case, it's much more serious than a sports team, and this is one of the top-paid positions in the city."
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service said it won't comment on political announcements from civic election candidates.
Loney pledges more jobs
Winnipeg mayoral candidate Shaun Loney, meanwhile, pledged Thursday to expand the number of social enterprises in the city — businesses that create some form of public benefit, such as hiring people who have had difficulty finding a job.
Loney, the founder of five social enterprises, said if he's elected mayor next month, he'd change city procurement practices to prioritize these community-minded businesses when the city chooses suppliers and services.
He set a target of creating 1,000 new jobs in Winnipeg for people with disabilities, criminal records or other barriers to getting a job.
"A lot of employers are desperate for workers right now," said Loney, standing in front of a North End building renovated by Purpose Construction, one of the social enterprises he founded.
Loney was joined at his announcement by David Newman, a former provincial Progressive Conservative cabinet minister. Earlier this week, former NDP cabinet minister Tim Sale spoke at a Loney pledge to create more housing.
Both Sale and Newman endorsed Loney for mayor, with Newman calling Loney "the least imperfect mayor since Bill Norrie."
Norrie served as mayor from 1979 to 1992.
Gillingham promises better construction
Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham, who has been making infrastructure announcements all week, pledged Thursday to keep construction spending under control by pre-tendering road work up to three years ahead of actual construction.
This move would reduce some of the uncertainty surrounding labour costs, the St. James councillor said in a statement.
Gillingham also promised to revamp city construction contracts so they resemble those across Canada, and said he would ensure Winnipeg uses more recycled materials.
Gillingham, Loney and Shone are among 15 people running for mayor.
Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Vincent Gabriele, Kevin Klein, Jenny Motkaluk, Glen Murray, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Jessica Peebles, Govind Thawani, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock have also registered mayoral campaigns.
The deadline to register is Sept. 20. Candidates must also complete a nomination process from Sept. 14 to 20 in order to appear on the election day ballot on Oct. 26.
With files from Bartley Kives