ELECTION 2018

Gloucester-Southgate candidates focus on crime

The candidates for Gloucester-Southgate focused on fighting crime in the south Ottawa community during a Wednesday night debate.

4 candidates challenging longtime incumbent Diane Deans

From left to right, Diane Deans, Alek Golijanin, Sam Soucy and Robert Swaita are running to represent Gloucester-Southgate on Ottawa city council. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The candidates for Gloucester-Southgate focused on fighting crime in the south Ottawa community during a Wednesday night debate, where one candidate said there needs to be a focus on youth of Arab descent. 

Robert Swaita, who said his father immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the 1950s, said he was best positioned to address crime related to the community.

"I know I mentioned that there is a lot of Arab youth that are involved in crime. I know it's sensitive, but we need to address the issue on how the issue is," Swaita told CBC News after the debate.

"What we need is people who understand how they've grown up and how they feel. And for me, having a background of Arab descent but born in this country, I feel that I can reach out to them in ways that other people cannot."

Incumbent Diane Deans said she has fought to increase policing resources and create youth programs for people of all backgrounds.

"It is not in the community's interest to negatively stereotype any ethnic group. My commitment is to work with every group and every young person that needs help to lift them up," Deans said.

Deans was first elected to represent the area in 1994 in the pre-amalgamation City of Ottawa and is now seeking her seventh consecutive term.

Swaita, a restaurant owner and businessman in the area, is one of her four challengers. Alek Golijanin, who has worked in the field of international development, and Sam Soucy, who has background working on Parliament Hill, also attended the debate hosted by the Hunt Club Park Community Association.

Perry Sabourin did not attend.

The candidates at the debate generally agreed that Ottawa police needed to return to the community policing model, that youth programs were needed to keep young people from entering a life of crime and there needed to be more community engagement on the issue.

Gloucester-Southgate and neighbouring Alta Vista ward have been trying to deal with gun violence in and around Walkley Road.

You can read CBC reporter Matthew Kupfer's Twitter coverage of the debate below.