Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Great Debate at MERC

Well we all got to see the candidates in action tonight. Well almost all of them. Lito was busy. Maybe he took his kids to the zoo across the street from home, or went golfing, across the street from home... regardless, if you can't make it out to the only forum in the 'hood you want to represent, you'd better hope all your "community" comes out to vote for you because you organized a few Folklorama Pavilions.
The questions were pretty safe, and provided in advance. I've never written on a forum or debate before, so I don't really know how. Maybe I should highlight the things I thought were most important, or just provide a general synopsis of the answers the candidates gave... or maybe I'll do both.
The event was well attended. I think there may well have been 300 people there. Harvey was nicely trimmed (I complimented him on looking well groomed), Keith looked casual, John looked a little dated, and Cindy looked... professional.
Andrew Swan was there, along with some other party faithful. Tom Simms was holding some NDP signs for school trustee Myra Laramee as well as passing out leaflets.
I took a lot of notes. I think I have 20 pages or so, writing on every question and every response, but I wont bore you with the details. If you wanted all the details, you wouldn't be asking me who you should vote for. (Forgive the blanket statement, but I know there are a number of you out there who have told me first hand that you want me to tell you, so here it goes)
As I said before, I'm going to hold my nose, and vote for Cindy Gilroy Price. She provided (what I thought) were honest answers and non partisan thinking. She believes in working together, and THAT is the type of City Councillor we need. If Daniel Mac wants something, our rep needs to work with other councillors to get that to happen.
Cardoso was (at times) hard to understand, and spent all together too much time talking about immigrants, (including saying that there are "10-15-20 thousand people who don't know where the community centers are" when asked how to make them (community centers) more useful in the inner city) and repeating ad nauseum, "It's not going to be easy", and "It's a tough job", as well as giving Harvey the elbow to the ribs at every opportunity. Consider this quote, the people last elected were,"... slow doing their job or don't know how to do it."
Keith Bellamy's BEST line came from a question from the floor asked by Mr. B from Beverly Street. I know Mr. B, his family having lived there (almost) since my Grandparents did... like half a century ago. The questions was (paraphrased) "Will you commit to reducing the business tax and holding the line on property taxes" prefaced with the statement that every time any level of government looks for more revenue, their hands are in OUR pockets. Keith had 90 seconds to say, "NO and NO". Honest... that was all he said, (to much applause). The NDP hacks were out in full force. I guess they don't realize that a business tax is ultimately paid for by the end consumer. Some of them would do well to take an introductory economics course.
When asked (from the floor) if party politics belonged in a civic election, Keith said "Yes". All 4 parties in Manitoba are out campaigning, wither with volunteers or organizers, and an endorsement is simply a statement. Cindy was clear. "NO". You can't have party divisions in City Council. It doesn't help people work together, which you have to do to get anything done.
Harvey. Poor Harvey. He still believes in Party politics at the City level, in spite of being shown the door. When I asked him why he took time in his literature to support the other NDP candidates after the party showed him the door, he said something like, "Ya, well... "as he walked away. Sorry Harvey. Sore spot?
There was a question about gangs, housing, and a number of other issues, but what struck me most were the obvious contradictions from the "endorsed candidate". On housing, he went on about the lack of rentals and how important good housing was without ever mentioning rent controls. Now it's all about the big bad condo developers. He was also big on taking over more properties that have troubled tenants like (he said) they do in Toronto. I wanted to ask him who'd take back the Manitoba Housing Units that are a problem in the area. The NDP's chosen one also thinks that keeping kids out of gangs is done by first "stabilizing communities before you can fix the problem". Do people not GET IT? The last NDP guy was there for almost 2 decades! The NDP has been there provincially since 1999. That's 10 years to stabilize the community. You people who eat this up... I really don't think there is help for you. There is a hand writing on the wall, and you aren't reading the message.
Cindy got it right. You have to give the kids a sense of belonging and value. Not blaming it on poverty, not on anything "out there" that might push the blame... the simple solution that actually makes some sense. Instill pride in themselves. Sure it's a tall order, but it's the right one. Where she and I disagree is with her answers to the housing issues. She felt that there should be restrictions on condo development (as did Bellamy, however he said anytime vacancy is below 2.5% there would be no condo conversions). I did like her idea of fast tracking permits and reduced fees for inner city re development, latched onto by Harvey, who found himself talking through both sides of his mouth. Harvey also went on to pontificate about ICR and Build, as well as saying, "I organized the west End BIZ". I didn't know that.
Harvey doesn't want to get rid of the business tax, or hold property taxes. "We need the money from business tax" yet when asked about redeveloping Ellice and Sargent he said there should be "tax breaks for businesses in the area".
Harvey went on about how Sam was evil. "You have to change the mayor" (to much applause) and my favourite, "Vote for me. With people like Harvey Smith on council the Mayor won't just be able to do whatever he wants". Well Harvey... I disagree. I think that if you'd have worked with him a bit more, you'd have done better for the community. Your personal views came between you and your job of serving the community. His campaign has been reduced to Sam is bad, vote for Judy, vote for Tony, (both NDP), vote for me! I guess it's a stab at whatever he can do to try to remain associated with a party that doesn't want him.
Cindy walks away the winner in my book.
As for school trustees, I got to talk with the 2 men I already thought I'd vote for, Brad and Rolf. Both just seem to want to give back and are open to talking, don't think they should need more money to run the show, and Rolf feels that there are too many trustees, too many superintendents and vice superintendents, and far too much bloated over head. He's in favour of a single school board in Winnipeg AND getting school taxes OFF of the property tax bill. I already like him.
Myra Laramee is also an NDP endorsed candidate, so I can't support her. Party politics don't belong at the school board. How can the trustees criticize the Provincial Education Minister if they plan to work their way up the party ladder? How can they lobby for change, when the NDP want none of that? Nope... so by default it goes to Cathy Collins.
There you have it. On election day, it goes like this
Sam Katz
Cindy Gilroy Price
Rolf Salfert
Bradly McKay
Cathy Collins

Don't blame me if it all goes bad.


  1. RM, I just stumbled onto your blog and I LOVE it!
    My only question is, why haven’t I seen this til now? I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

  2. I appreciate the effort you put into going to the forum and recapping for all of us non politics followers.

    I love your blog and look forward to reading it each day. You make me LOL.

    Keep up the great writing!!