Saturday, April 16, 2016

Minto Candidates Debate

So once again the MSM has let people down. Apparently there wasn't even a reporter-in-training available to cover the debate in the constituency with the most candidates running. The only story I've found covering the debate is http://www.winnipegsun.com/2016/04/11/minto-candidate-wants-farmers-excess-veggies . Go figure. Report on the goofiest thing out there (if you ignore Joe Chan's ideas)

Organized by The Daniel Mac/ St. Matthews (ever wonder why there's no apostrophe?) Neighbourhood Association, the questions were prepared by the joint organizer, The John Howard Society, and were unfortunately, fairly complicated, loaded, and left leaning.

Almost every question was based on the idea that the question was posed from a place of knowledge... in other words, that the entity asking the question knew what was best, "do you agree?"

While there was a list of answers provided on the West Broadway Website (as provided by the candidates) I see no such list available on the DMSMCA site.

Regardless, thanks to the org for organizing the event... which had all the makings of a Gong Show, to no fault of the organizers. (aside from the restrictive questions posed on the candidates)

The list of all seven candidates follows in alphabetical order

Demetre Balaktsis  Liberal

Virgil Gil                  Manitoba Party (represented by Joe Chan)

Belinda Squance     Conservative Party

Andrew Swan          New Democratic Party

Andrew Taylor         Communist Party (represented by Darrell Rankin)

Martha Jo Willard    Green Party

Don Woodstock       Independant


Now my first complaint (aside from the left leaning scripted, complicated questions that I as the listener could hardly wrap my head around, let alone formulate an answer to in two minutes) was that no-shows were permitted to send a proxy.

Who does that? Listen, I don't care what else you got going on, if you don't show, you have an empty chair. Aside from the fact that I don't personally care what the Manitoba Party or the Communist Party have to say, if the actual person running can't be there, what on earth would have the organizers think that letting someone else take up time talking about the issues in our neighbourhood would be a good idea? I could go on, but I think this is SO obvious that I don't have to.

Given that the two aforementioned Parties did not have the person who is the candidate available, they will not get any further mention aside from,

VOTE COMMUNIST! (because it worked so well in the east block)

and that Joe Chan needs to slow down a bit... when he speaks, and all you get is "fat cats","$300,000 Mercedes in the driveway", and that a tax cut will cure all societal woes after the simplistic ideas shared about supports for people were shared (by simplistic, I mean so hopelessly naive it was borderline stupidity). Other than that he was incomprehensible to anyone aside from his own family.

On to the good stuff

The evening started with a bunch of information from Debbie from Elections Manitoba telling people what forms if ID were needed to vote as well as explaining things I didn't know about like,

  • Home Bound Voting
  • Personal Security Voting (name not on the voters list, substituted by a number)
  • Homeless shelter able to provide a letter to a homeless person as ID
  • Voting in hospitals and correctional facilities 
  • If the voting are is not accessible, the ballot box can come to you
  • Ballots are available in Braille, large print, and you can have assistance
Debbie did NOT mention that people who may feel all 7 choices on the ballot were not worthy, could "decline their vote" as I did last election when I lived in the Wolseley Riding.


Introductions

MJW - Has her practice on Broadway, major issues are related to poverty, accessibility to education, affordable housing. We need to focus on a green economy and need opportunities for new jobs that pay a decent wage to be able to survive, and that we need to produce more locally and we should import less.

DW - Bus driver, has a long track record of work in the neighbourhood including organizing an annual yard sale, establishing a football scholarship. Problems identified in the area revolve around prostitution. The community needs to rise up and demand action from their MLA.

DB - Current day politicians don't meet with regular people in social settings. It's not a mystery that people just want to be understood and listened to. He would meet people in the neighbourhood and get his direction from those interactions. People want a servant leader, and they want to be heard.

JC - (ya... I know. I said I wouldn't mention the MB Party) Jail politicians who steal... that was a good one that had some ties to a previous lawsuit he lost I think. (with costs awarded to the defendant)

AS - Minto has seven candidates because representing the area is the best job in Manitoba! Home owners have seen the value of their homes increase since the NDP has been in power. Rent controls remain, safer neighbourhood, better graduation rates, there are more choices and opportunities for people seeking to get back into the workforce, in 1999 the Spence Neighbourhood Association met around a kitchen table but the NDP created Neighbour Hoods Alive! to help the group organize.

BS - Moved into the area 10 years ago, left Starbucks to work at the Ellice Cafe for 2 1/2 years where she met people from virtually all walks of life and witnessed them interacting. It was amazing to watch. Volunteers with The Community Research Hub, The Canadian Muslim Women's Institute, The Canadian Cancer Society, and that she has organized a group that advocates for Women's sex trade workers (to exit the lifestyle). She promised to advocate both quietly and with strength.

Who won? Probably Belinda because of the areas she's worked in the community. Don would be second I guess, again because of his work in the area. While Andrew touted accomplishments, there was absolutely no mention of specifics he's done for the area aside from the funding for neighbourhood associates, which some could argue are a government arm created because they were incapable of managing the matter, at much lower costs, and to be able to deflect any criticism for things being done... but that's a whole other debate. His claim to have been any influence on housing values of area safety is almost laughable.  Hey. It's my blog, and I can be biased if I want to. The comments in Red are mine, the material next to the initials are (as best I could record) those of the candidate.

Housing

The question was overly complex, and I can only paraphrase it. "How will you keep housing affordable, how many units is your party committed to creating, What model will it be Social, Private, not-for-profit, public...

BS - Review where the current money is being spent. Find the waste in the Department of Housing. Maintain services for those who are vulnerable, provide grants for housing. Currently 51 units of Manitoba Housing are rented to high income earners.

AS - This is a big building block. The roots of providing childcare, and early learning in schools. increases in minimum wage, health supports, have created 350 units and after the existing 500 units committed to are complete, another 300 units will be built. Rent controls will stay in place. The Conservatives didn't build any social housing when they were in government. It would be a blend of all models.

JC - Again... I know I said I wouldn't cover his blather, but it's SO funny! Building too slow. Develop basement units. For a few thousand dollars to produce 10,000 units very quickly. More tax breaks. Private rent is high, but if we develop basements there will be more units and the rent price will drop. Joe, give your head a shake. Developing a basement is only do-able if it's dry, has decent plumbing, proper ingress and so on. Look up the requirements of a secondary suite, and you'll come to understand that PROPER development of a basement is about $50,000. MB Housing had a program where the expenses were cost shared with a 10 year forgivable mortgage on the portion the Crown Corp. provided. This IS a solution, but not as you presented it.   For a few thousand dollars investment you'll have a very nice mattress on an area rug with a honey pot for facilities. 

DB - The NDP has wasted time. Rent increases would be put on hold and the rent control guidelines would be reviewed. Rent control increases are not always necessary. This is a small price to pay for landlords but has big impact on low income people. He's a first time candidate, grass roots. Talked about "Min-come" and the extensive benefits. The actual model of housing would be discussed later.

DW - As has been there for 12 years and he's still promising affordable, low income housing. This needs to be addressed. Build them. 5 Years, 300- 500 units...whatever. Stop permitting people to buy derelict homes and flip them. Fast track City of Winnipeg identified houses and make sure no one can flip them. The Co-Op model works. Sad that AS can't show what he's accomplished. Don, you're out of your depth. First off, the City was the biggest destroyer of derelict (read abandoned, not necessarily unsound) when the market was soft. "Flippers" take a completely uninhabitable house, and renovate it, increasing the life expectancy, and the value of the building. To remove the market from the equation, is to continue to have unsuitable housing that is "affordable", meaning (eventually) the ghetto-ization of the area. Private investment in QUALITY housing is NEEDED in the area. If you ever want a lesson, contact me... I'll show you around.

MJW - Mixed approach. Train people while building the units. Mixed use with commercial on the lower level and residential above. Rent geared to income.

Who won? Well, honestly, no one. It's like trying to pick the best of the worst. If I had to choose, I'd go with BS, but I can't really believe that the housing "crisis" (and I don't believe that there is one) can be solved by trimming fat at MB Housing. That is not to suggest that there isn't fat to trim, rather that making this the "plan" really is no plan at all. AS spouts number as they relate to the entire province... so talking about 350 units really has no value in the community. What have you done for me lately? While there have been incentives rolled out, and some housing influenced through programs available, AS didn't mention them, meaning he may well be oblivious and they happen in spite of him. DB is as far left as the Communist party on this issue. Landlords don't need a rent increase... no, water, sewer, electricity, taxes, frontage levy, costs of maintenance... they all go up, but it's a small price to pay for the land lord. The only one to not say anything I have an issue with was MJW... so maybe it goes to her, but by simply having a utopic idea, you don't have a plan.

Safety

The question revolved around restorative justice, and as such answers were related to the question. The candidates were ham strung by virtue of the slanted question that starts with the premise of restorative justice being a good thing. 

DB - This works in indigenous communities. Based on forgiveness. It impacts the people most affected. This should be the norm, not the exception.

JC - OK, I might have to go back and change what I said about not commenting on him. More safety, tax cuts, more disposable income for the family, more after school programs so parents can work, tax cuts bring more jobs. NDP has been there 12 years, still trying to fix things while they drive a Mercedes. NDP is not working. Note to Joe. The question was regarding restorative justice and safety. 

Now during JCs off topic response, the event became hijacked by a "Treaty One" member who told us that we were meeting on their land. She went on about how we need to work this out and ranted a bit, the moderator seemed either unable, or unwilling to manage the situation. One person in the crowed shouted out that interrupting was disrespectful and the moderator took a cue and suggested that she should hold her question until the allotted time was provided. "I don't have time for that", she replied, and continued to rant for a bit. 


AS - AS Minister of Justice, he introduced the Restorative Justice Act. Focus on victims needs, community safety. This is a better way to deal with people. Had to fight Stephen Harper. The system of laws have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years. We can decide how to implement it, how far it goes. Youth crimes too. Has to be supported by the victims. Police and the Crown will inform the victim of the option.

BS - Supportive of restorative justice. It's a system that's good for all involved. While at the Ellice Cafe she got to know people from John Howard and hired one person from there. Will make sure it continues but there is still a long way to go. This is a small part of justice and the focus should not only be on the back end, but the front end too. Equality is necessary. First Nations are not the same status as all other citizens in the constitution. Good idea, but it needs to be standardized.

MJW - Go back to the old methods. Aboriginals and other countries use restorative justice. We need more properly trained counsellors for the victim and the offender. The goals should be for harm reduction. True understanding. More counsellors. The resources are there, but need to be used better.

DW - Years ago he petitioned AS to spend the amounts of money spent on prisons to be reallocated to the community.  What would be better? Why not spend $2 Million (might have been billion) on Early Childhood Education? The NDP will just keep doing the same thing.

Who wins? BS, because she had the presence of mind to indicate that the question was based solely on the ways of handling the situation when it's already too late. The best method is to work on the front end, ad reduce the need for any type of need for the justice system to be involved. Second place goes to MJW, although the idea of hiring more "trained counsellors" has a bit of a bad taste. Look at where we are with the quality and quantity of social workers being churned out of the "university" on Selkirk Ave. 

Mental Health

Again, the question was so complex I had trouble understanding it when read and transcribing it into notes... Something about Mental Health, Young Adults, No resources... and by memory it was about providing service to them after they are over 18.

DW - Will continue to stand on the steps of the Legislature. Talked about how he was the driving force to rename "Garbage day to Recycle Day", talked about how he was the guy who brought about the blue bins. "It's not rocket science"... The government won't give you $10 a day to stay home and look after your own child but will spend $50 to have someone else look after them. Slapped the Liberal candidate for living in Linden Woods.  I really expected more from Don on this question since it figures so prominently on his campaign literature. He failed to stay on topic on this one.

MJW - CFS is more about apprehending children than about helping the parents. More training and support for parents, they can make it work, it's the system that is broken. Adjust needs to have mentorship while in care. Keep kids at home, provide mentorship. Ask kids who are 18, they would have the best answers.

BS - 1 in 5 people experience some sort of mental health issue. 75% have issues that appear in their youth. 10,000 people in Emergency Community Services is not a fix. Develop comprehensive strategies. CFS has a high number of children in care. She worked as a support worker, workers need more flexibility.

AS - The Governement has the Child Abuse Advocate studying the issue. The report commends the the work done by the NDP. 18 to 25 year olds need mentorship but they should be supported to age 25. Sometimes 18 year olds don't want to be involved with CFS any longer. 49% of children are placed with family already. (Eliciting some response from the crowd of a "we don't believe that" nature)

JC - Ranted against the NDP, $300,000 fat cat, stop taking kids away, educate them, teach them how to cook, provide them with a work ethic (as if this is something you can just give to someone... like an honourary doctorate, or a participant badge at the school track and field day) NDP has to be gone.
I couldn't resist... this guys ideas are so simplistic. It makes the Communist platform look respectable because at least they've considered their ideology.

DB - Federal statistics show 80% of youth have anxiety, depression, some sort of mental health issue. Liberals are committed to provide more. Medicare should cover PTSD, single mothers. Some one needs to advocate. Self care, self reliance, self management. Workers are over tasked. Support workers are kept busy just trying to contact 40% of their clients. With apologies to DB, he had more, and his thoughts were more coherent than I provided them, Im just didn't get them all. 

Who wins? Probably BS. I didn't understand DB's ideas on "self reliance" when it comes to mental health issues. MJW has Rose coloured glasses. AS was more interested in talking about how some report is congratulating the NDP on the fine work they've done. 

Employment

The question was again slanted around the minimum wage not being high enough to be a living wage, and "are you committed to increasing it". It's a left of centre question designed for a left of centre answer to be the only right one.

MJW - Increase job skills, people need to be above the poverty line. people should be permitted to work 3 or 4 days a week and not have to have it clawed back, or count it as volunteer time. Costs of school wile working are onerous. People need help. Job flexibility is required in situations... people with anxiety issues for example. And here I need to shut it all out, even if some of it made sense. A business can't operate around people with anxiety issues. Either you show up, and do your job, or you can't (unless you're in the business of stuffing envelopes, with no defined completion date for your work)

DW - "Keep it real" Winnipeg Harvest is non political. They report a 38% increase in food bank use. Government spins things, but that doesn't make it better. Top heavy organizations. The simple solution is in Ile des Chenes where they have "tons of excess produce"that we should distribute. Good Food Clubs, we should produce it locally. "Get real" might be a better slogan. This idea still has people reliant on receiving food for "free", ostensibly as a result of poverty. 

DB - Everyone is 2 or 3 paycheques away from poverty. The minimum wage should be raised. Liberal "min-come" policy is going to end poverty. The idea  needs to be studied, what sort of funds are required. This would lead to a healthier Province and minimize reliance on Government services.

AS - The NDP has raised minimum wage every year since 1999. The PCs froze it for 6 years. The liberals opposed raising the minimum wage. Want a fair minimum wage for all, needs to be increased. Cut the drop out rate in half since they've been in power. Tuition should be frozen.

BS - Keep more of your own money. At $11/hr, you still pay 30% tax. Index tax brackets to inflation, and raise the minimum tax bracket. Raising the wage hurts small business. if income doesn't increase along with the increased wage expense, something has to give.

Who wins? DB. Min-come has merit. It was experimented with in Dauphin and the excellent results were buried by the former federal and provincial PC governments. While the reasons for burying the results may have been due to the austerity measures required at the time, that doesn't change the facts that my former professor, E.Forget published after combing through a ton of boxes of records from the program. Second place goes to BS for recognizing that the NDP have talked a good talk about raising the minimum wage, which translates into taking more taxes from minimum wage earners.

End result?

AS was the guy with a target on his back... and his front, and JC wanted to be able to provide head shots while DW held him down. (AS is too tall for JC to take on his own, but he encouraged me to go the the website and check out their "song", so I did... and while their rhyming skills are questionable, I can't say I would have chosen "yellow submarine" as my theme song. Written as a "nonsense song for children"and given to Ringo to do lead vocals... well, maybe it's quite apropos!) 
AS didn't have much to offer by way of his record, and instead talked about things that obfuscated, which seasoned politicians do very well. Provide an answer, just don't answer the question.
His campaign literature continues to lie about Pallister being a part of "cutting 1000 nurses (he was asked about that question from the floor, and talked around it without answering why they continue to lie about it). Anyone wanting the Free Press, Winnipeg SUN, and CJOB links to proving that absolute drivel can find them on the net along with the 700 teacher firings that never happened. 

I find the out and out lies regrading the things the Conservatives have said and done alarming. People who lap that up without verifying the facts shouldn't be allowed to vote... 

BS is not "seasoned", yet her answers were on point, well considered and generally made sense. She actually told one person who asked a question from the floor that "the answer probably isn't what you want to hear", which I found refreshing. The campaign messages are clear, and have absolutely no vitriolic material in them.  

DB carried himself well however the entire platform of the Liberal party is so incoherent I just couldn't possibly consider them. A good effort, thanks for adding to the discussion.

DW... Pink, to match his tie. Now my initial thoughts on Don before the debate was that he was a political whole, who would join up with any party that would have him. I thought that he was a little desperate for attention... but I think Don really wants to have some impact. He truly wants to influence the community he lives in... but. As in independent, he'll have as much chance of influencing anything as Jon Gerrard did (possibly in the group of the smartest guys that sat in the Leg) and Harvey Smith. 
I take some issue with Don's election mail outs, claiming the PC candidate in Minto "is a vote for someone who hasn't done anything, so how can she do?"Aside from terrible sentence structure, Don... know your enemy. BS hasn't appeared before City Council a number of times, trying to rename garbage day, organize a big sale of stuff in the neighbourhood or organized "plastic bag day" but to say she hasn't done anything in the area is beyond dishonest. Maybe read  https://cs3partners.wordpress.com/  Add to that, donwoodstock.ca is still a green party website... so maybe you should have taken that site down and not included it on your election signage. Further misinformation implies that the other candidates don't live in the area.... slippery insofar as honesty goes. Just one more thing Don, "Bring creative out-of-the-box ideas to the Legislature to solve problems without political sensoring" should have been caught by spell check.

MJW has some credibility issues with me. The premise of the Green Party as presented is simplistic and utopic. The idea of living in the harshest climate outside of Sibera and being carbon neutral is beyond comprehension. Frankly, I like burning fossil fuel to keep my house warm, you and your ilk can freeze huddled together in your Passive House while cycling to work on a -30C morning. 






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