Steeves has duty to address wife's racist comment, Oullette says
Mayoral candidates addresses Lorrie Steeves 'drunken native' comments
Winnipeg mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette made a plea on Monday for people to change the way Winnipeg works.
"We live in a divided city, one split by colour and economic potential, and that must be addressed for the sake of children who inherit the city in 20 to 30 years," he said in the courtyard of city hall.
He made the remarks partially in response to a derogatory post made on Facebook by the wife of rival candidate Gord Steeves.
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Lorrie Steeves wrote in 2010 that she was tired of "drunken native guys" harassing her downtown. The comments came to light Friday afternoon and spread rapidly on social media and into the mainstream media.
Ouellette said he understands there are people afraid to walk downtown. When he walks downtown and sees some down-on-their-luck people at Portage and Main, he said he sees brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers and knows he could have been one of them.
He said he faced a challenging youth and had his own issues but also had mentors and others who helped save his life.
Ouellette, a director of aboriginal programs at the University of Manitoba, said he feels sorry for Gord and Lorrie Steeves. Gord has been a politician for a long time and should know better, he said, adding Gord must have some responsibility for the people who surround him.
Ouellette also commented on Steeves' silence about the incident, saying if you want to be mayor of Winnipeg you have to forthright and come forward on difficult issues.
"At the end of the day, the mayor of this city must represent everyone, each and every one of us," he said.
Steeves' campaign issued a notice on Sunday saying he would hold a news conference Tuesday, "at a time and place to be announced."
Mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis weighs in
Mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis also said she's disappointed with Lorrie Steeves’ comments.
She said if her husband made similar comments she would have dealt with it differently than Gord Steeves has.
“I would feel necessary to get out in front of it and say, 'I in no way accept or tolerate those kinds of comments,’” said Wasylycia-Leis. “I would not want to be held responsible for that, but I would be very embarrassed.”
She said Lorrie Steeves’ comments coupled with a recent announcement by Gord Steeves about introducing new measures to get intoxicated people off of Winnipeg streets are not what the city needs.
"I would hope that he would clarify, as quickly as possible, where he stands on these issues. It is hurtful to our community and to the city to wait this long," said Wasylycia-Leis.
Candidate Brian Bowman called her words deeply offensive, while Mike Vogiatzakis said the post was inappropriate and disgusting.
Vogiatzakis also called on Gord Steeves to speak on the matter.
Damon Johnston calls on Steeves to bow out of race
On Monday, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg's Damon Johnston also responded to Lorrie Steeves comments.
He said he emailed Steeves Monday morning asking him to resign his candidacy.
"Here's a person who seems highly educated, is a professional and is a spouse of someone seeking office in our country. You would think she'd know those kind of comments would hurt," said Johnston. "If individuals in your family are in the political arena, those kinds of statements are not acceptable in any way and they could be seriously damaging to his career."
Johnston also said he also contacted Lorrie Steeves employer to say she should be disciplined.
“If a member of my family, my wife, made those kind of statements publicly, yes I would definitely withdraw my candidacy,” he said. “She apologized, but I see that mainly as damage control.”