Monday 19 September 2011

The leaders go downtown. (Most of them).

Two blocks down from where two people got shot half a day earlier, the Provincial leadership candidates got together for a debate on downtown issues. Most of then anyhow. Greg Selinger sent one of his ministers, just as he did with the Bipole debate earlier.

Moderated by Dan Lett and Richard Cloutier, the panelists were the familiar Hugh McFadyen and Dr. Jon Gerrard. Gord Mackintosh sat in for Selinger. The Green Party's James Beddome was not invited to participate as a full member, but in an odd arrangement was allowed a few minutes to speak part way through the session. More on that later.

That's the set up. Here is my haphazard recount of what happened:

The first subject was rapid transit:
Jon spoke reasonably about how transit development should be planned before new neighbourhoods like Waverley West are built -- not after. The Liberals are the only party that has a firm policy on rapid transit as far as I know, and Jon talked about it frequently, seeing it as one of his strengths.
Gord surprised me by saying "the money is on the table" for 1/3 of whatever type of rapid transit the city chooses: LRT or BRT. This is in contrast to the government's previous stance of sticking to plan 'A': the original BRT agreement. Nothing like an election to shake loose the purse strings.
Hugh was pressed to pick his preference on BRT or LRT. He personally prefers LRT but would work with the city on either. He spoke of the breakdown in relationship between the city and province as the reason for the lack of progress.

Gord: more cops and cadets on the street.
Hugh: more cops and cadets.
Jon: NDP failure. More cops and cadets.

Question from the audience: more cops won't matter as long as judges are letting people back on the street (to thunderous applause from the audience):
Gord: Blames Ottawa's lax criminal laws for the high crime rate. Points out the NDP anti-gang program.
Hugh: Ottawa's laws apply to all provinces. Does not explain why we are the worst. There are provincial policies that can be changed as well.
Jon: We also need more recreational opportunities for kids.

Question from the audience: poverty & homelessness are the root cause of crime. What will you do about that?
Jon: talked about rapid transit!! The questioner rightly stopped him and said "Rapid transit will not fix poverty." Bad answer by Dr. Jon.
Hugh: The government's anti-private investment regime has stalled private development of housing, and the government itself has not built enough public housing.
Gord: The NDP just announced today a plan to turn 7 acres of parking lots in to 2100 housing units.

All three parties would maintain rent controls.

More on housing: Jon wants to force high-rise buildings to have a % of affordable housing. Ya, that's going to encourage developers to build.

Question from the audience: organized crime has infiltrated the government.
A discussion of whistleblower legislation ensued..

On the issue of affordability:
Gord promises increases to the minimum wage every year.
Hugh briefly mentioned the high tax rate for low income earners, after using up all his time repeating stuff he talked about earlier. Should have hammered on the high tax rates right off the bat, as the government's record here is shameful.
Jon: I have no notes. Was probably talking to somebody.

Closing speeches:
Jon: Rapid transit (of course); something about an anti-poverty reduction plan; and will increase the personal tax exemption!
Hugh: Supports TIFF development; land transfer tax exemptions for first time home buyers; increase private investment. Also gave Green party leader Beddome a nod, and promised to wear a better suit to the televised debate on Friday.
Gord: The usual stuff plus a quote from Jian Ghomeshi! Well, with Jian Ghomeshi in their corner how can they lose?


So about 2/3 of the way through the event, they interrupted the show and invited James Beddome up on the stage to talk. No questions or prompts or anything. Just "here is the mike. You can use it for 2 minutes." Dan and Richard made sure to mention that it was "agreed upon", although how this agreement was arrived at I don't know. By a show of hands all three party leaders said they would have welcomed the Green's participation, and Beddome himself certainly would have preferred to be at the table. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Anyhow, Jimmy Bop made the most of his 2 or 3 minutes on the podium with an energetic pitch about small business, free transit, and the pending platform release on Wednesday (Memorial Park at 11:00.) He is a very good speaker and could surprise a few people during the televised debates on Friday.

I was speaking with James on and off during the debate and I asked him if we really need more cops on the street. His thought was that more cops are not necessarily the answer. Perhaps deploying cops more consistently in a given area might help them to get to know the people and gain their trust. More of a community-based approach to policing.


There were a few other things discussed through the night, but I got tired of scribbling in the old Moleskine. It was also good to bump into Kevin McDougald again.


Brian said...

My comment on the content of your comments would unsettle you.

So in lieu, I'll thank you for writing this as I was out of town and missed the debate.

No, really - thanks.

The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

"Question from the audience: organized crime has infiltrated the government.
A discussion of whistleblower legislation ensued."

Details please as best you can remember. There is no doubt that white-collar crime is not a priority with this government. I'd like to know what was said.

cherenkov said...

@Brian. You're welcome ....

@Marty: I wish I could help you, but I can't remember what the lady said, except that I don't recall any specific example being given. Maybe another reader can jog my memory?

The View from Seven said...

Good to talk to you again as well!

One of the more interesting bits had to be the woman with the flamboyant dress and unplaceable accent (regional British?) who tried to turn it into a debate on BiPole, until Cloutier angrily ordered her microphone turned off.

As far as whistleblower legislation is concerned, I remember the issue coming up, but it was all a rather confused affair. The speaker wasn't very clear, and the politicians were trying to figure out what this was specifically about.

cherenkov said...

Yes, the lady: Susan Von-SomethingOrOther. "I have a question to ask and you're not going to push me out."

I don't remember the question/statement being very clear either, but thanks for your account of it.

Rod Rouge said...

Is there video or audio recording posted of this debate? I too am very interested in Whistleblower crowd remark.


Rod Rouge said...

I'm watching.

Rod Rouge said...

whoops! wrong one!

Still searching....

cherenkov said...

Hi Red. Not that I know of. Your best bet might be to contact Winnipeg Downtown Biz, as they were the ones hosting the debate. Most media outlets just filmed 30 seconds for a TV news clip and left.

Rod Rouge said...

Wrote to CJOB, as they produced it, no response yet.

Will keep digging. Corruption needs to be smacked, right?

cherenkov said...

No doubt there is corruption, but I got the impression this lady was not an informant or insider, based on the somewhat inarticulate rant. Maybe you can get more out of it than me.

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