Surprise, surprise: A new day dawns.

Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
[they do not move]

A sincere and hearty congratulations to Mayor Sam Katz on his reelection in Winnipeg.

The people have spoken, and the people are never wrong.

Maybe these meant more then we thought

But judging by the immense social-networking chatter and coverage in both newspapers this morning, all eyes are now on Katz to deliver over the next four years.

I mean, really, check these three articles out if you haven’t yet:

Not 12 hours after his win, and the mayor’s already been put on notice by the WFP and the Sun that his victory is a slight one in their eyes.

@bkives had a really fascinating (to me, anyways) piece on Katz’s transformation from a self-described non-politician to a savvy one fully enamored with political life.

But dark clouds loom for Katz on the horizon, Dan Lett suggests:

Despite assertions that he is the mayor of infrastructure and public safety, both have continued to suffer during his six years in office. The infrastructure deficit — the total amount of work needed on our roads, bridges and sewers for which there is no funding — continues to grow. City facilities like arenas and community centres are falling apart at the seams. And despite having weathered the recession better than almost any other province in the country, social dysfunction and crime in Manitoba continue to rage. It’s a win, but the problems facing this city constitute solid proof that Katz’s main planks — hiring more cops and snuggling up to the Winnipeg Police Association — are not a panacea for reducing crime.

We’ll have to see where he gets to in the next two years, and he’s earned that right at the ballot box.

But I have a feeling that, unlike in years past, there’s going to be more scrutiny on City Hall and the Mayor’s office than usual.

Remember the following, because this is what Katz ran on:

Katz pledges 77 additional Winnipeg Police Service positions to take action on violent crime

The Mayor outlined his proposal which would see:

  • an additional 20 officers dedicated to combating gangs, in a unit modeled after the highly successful auto theft strategy,
  • 20 new officers for foot patrol in high risk areas,
  • an additional 18 officers to add another full shift to cruiser cars to provide for quicker response times
  • and an additional 19 positions to be added to the 911 call centre to ensure help is there when you need it. [Sept 7, 2010]

Katz Dedicates $1 million to Community Centre Renovation Fund

Winnipeg, September 17th , 2010 –Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will create a $1 million Community Centre Renovation Fund dedicated to renovation projects for city-owned board-run community centres. Funding will come from dedicating 15 % of total City land sale proceeds, amounting to approximately $1.2 million/year.

Katz Pledges $1 million to Keep Youth on the Path to Success

Winnipeg, October 5th, 2010 – Mayor Sam Katz today announced that he will commit an additional $1 million to add operating hours, new programming and security to Inner-city and North End community organizations. It will also go to fund the hugely successful JustTV, developed by the Broadway Neighborhood Centre (BNC).

Surface Parking Lots

Winnipeg October 13th, 2010 –To promote the cleanup of downtown and make it safer, Mayor Sam Katz today announced a Downtown Surface Parking Lot incentive aimed at encouraging redevelopment in the downtown.

The program would work the following way:

A surface parking lot assessed at $200,000 and would be paying $2,000 in municipal property tax. If that same parking lot was redeveloped into a commercial property assessed at $2,000,000, the municipal property tax for the new commercial property would be $20,000.

Under this incentive taxes would be frozen at its initial rate for 5 years, with phased in increases over the next 3 years.

Recycling Depots

Winnipeg, October 14th, 2010 – Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will implement Recycling Depots to reduce waste in our land fills and increase recycling. A one year pilot project in collaboration with Versatech Industries Inc. would see five depots located throughout the city in every community committee area, provide employment for individuals living with intellectual disabilities, and promote greener recycling practices while providing community organizations the ability to fund raise while making our city cleaner and greener.

Katz Pledges Support for More Successful Downtown Celebrations

Winnipeg – October 20th, 2010 –Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will more than double the existing city-wide street closure budget as well as commit in-kind services up to $57,000 to expand the hugely successful “Lights on Broadway” from one day to up to four Saturdays, and provide annual support for the popular downtown festival, “Ciclovia.” This announcement continues to build on the Mayor’s efforts to ensure we do everything we can to encourage Winnipeggers’ to come downtown.

Wisely, Katz didn’t commit to a revenue strategy, and the voters didn’t care.

Wisely, he refused to say just how he’s going to get a share of the PST and still keep property taxes frozen, and voters didn’t care.

The promise of 58 more police officers weren’t costed out for the public, and the voters didn’t care. (We’ll now never — ever — really know if this comes true or not, BTW)

He largely deflected criticism over transparency (some of it totally unfair) and voters didn’t care.

-30-




 

 

 

What I’ll miss about Winnipeg’s 2010 election

Winnipeg Cat, Oct. 27, 2010

1] A concurrent and unifying theme in Winnipeg’s alternative media: Over the past few months, there’s been an esprit de corps among Winnipeg bloggers, social-networkers and (dare I say it) select members of the mainstream media. While many seem to have their own leanings in terms of the issues, I’m going to miss the diversity of opinion and criticism surrounding the mayoral and candidates (non)campaigns.

2] #wpgvotes on Twitter: I guess tomorrow it would be safe to start #mbvotes, given the provincial campaign machinery will now be grinding forward (federal byelection excepted) — especially, I hope, for the Progressive Conservatives. They have a lot of policy work to do to garner people’s votes and imaginations in 2011, I think. Anyhow, #wpgvotes was a good time. See ya in 2014, if anyones still using Twitter.

3] Daily doses of sarcasm from @bkives in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press and elsewhere.

4] Commentary like today’s Winnipeg Cat. Enough said. But, my own contribution appeared the other day, a proud moment for me…

5] Former police department mucky-mucks weighing in on the platforms. Funny how both Cassels and Zacharias are opposed to Katz. Interesting stuff, if one properly considers the source. I found Cassels’s comments and endorsement interesting — if not somewhat jarring or unfair — given that the landscape of crime in the city has so drastically changed since he was chief.

6] Someone, please buy Brian Kelcey a drink as a reward for all the intelligent banter!

7] Having to spell Wasylycia-Leis at 20 times a day for the last month. Even if she’s mayor after tonight, That ratio should drop considerably.

8] Probably my most favorite thing about this election — and it’s my bias, I admit — has been hearing the content of the crime debate. Winnipeg has a problem. I’m just not so sure we’ve heard that the leadership knows (or will admit) what the problem actually is. Disheartening, but at least it frames one’s expectations. Lingering question raised by Menno on Tuesday: Why hasn’t Katz — or better yet,  Scott Fielding — trumpeted the CCTV project?

9] #kickskids

10] Public candidates forums. I love watching them and attending them.

Perverse, I know.

Now go and vote, if you haven’t already.

And may the WPS quickly catch the North End’s Saturday Shooter.

-30-

No choice but to react

“Today, on many blocks, it is clear the bad guys have won, and the police and the law and peace of a civil society gave up and went home.”

Rob Galston, the Rise and Sprawl

No, that’s not true. At least not in my view.

Realistically, there’s only so many police to go around.

And in the wake of three separate shootings (two of them fatal) in a half hour — on top of all the other usual mayhem — the North End got — and is getting — as much police presence as the force can afford, if not more.

If the sheer presence of police officers made for a safer neighbourhood, then the North End should be one of the safest in North America.

On any given day in Winnipeg, there are more police around there than anywhere else in the city. One needs only to look at a GPS map of where the squad cars are to make that determination.

The Saturday shootings have renewed a call for the return to foot patrols in the area.

While on the surface, this sounds like a great idea, I’d predict there’s little chance the rank-and-file on the service would buy into this.

It’s one thing to cruise around a gun-infested hood in a squad car — entirely another to be walking about on foot, an easy target for armed fools.

Which sort of brings me to my larger point.

Ultimately, police are only as able to keep the peace as much as their jobs and authority are respected by the communities they serve.

I’d submit in all parts of Winnipeg, including the North End, there’s factions who completely lack that respect.

[UPDATE: For an excellent run-down of what life’s like for th average citizen living in the North End, see here]

For various reasons, some deserved, some not.

But, like a snake eating its tail, mistrust and racism and fear curb attempts by both sides to stop the violence.

Same goes for the law of the land. The majority of us know shooting people — under any circumstances — is wrong. Others just don’t seem to care and act out however they want.

There’s no respect there.

No respect for the fact that everyone is supposed to have the right to security of the person, to be able to walk the streets and be unafraid.

Kelcey had a recent blog post about crime prevention, explaining in detail why he favours a “kitchen sink” approach to fighting crime.

I’d suggest you read about how Los Angeles — a city with some very close similarities to the crime problems we have here — is doing what our police chief has been saying he wants to do ever since he was hired: Stop making the police the end-all-be-all solution to the problem. It’s bigger than that.

If we’re gonna fix anything, it starts within each of us.

Not with a helicopter, not with bigger guns, not with tougher laws that criminals just ignore anyways.

Tomorrow we (re)elect a mayor. In some sense, the way the votes swing is like taking the pulse of the city.

Of the two viable candidates running, one says more cops is the answer. In fact that’s pretty much all he’s said in my view. More police = more safety, less gang activity and more toughness.

The other, a career politician, has largely only talked about fixing the so-called “root causes” of crime like poverty, injustice, etc.

We, the voters — if we believe that crime response is an ‘electable’ issue worth getting off the couch for — are being asked to pick between two incomplete options.

Both options, in my view, are unpalatable given the level of violence we’re seeing.

It’s both candidates’ complete and utter lack of creativity that stuns me.

Gonna take back the neighbourhood? Then it’s pretty clear it’s up to us, first.

How do we get started?

-30-

BTW Galston, your post was a fantastic read. Thanks.

Voting day, and something different

Today was voting day for me.

Wanted to be one of the record number who turned out early this year to do it.

Not gonna share who got my ink dots, but glad I did it.

The woman behind me in line was telling the volunteer that she didn’t vote in ’06, but really wanted to make sure she did this year. She didn’t elaborate why.

I started thinking about what I actually knew about the mayoral candidates and their platforms on my way to City Hall today. Then I got worried because I’ve been writing stories consistently for a month about Sam, Judy et al. and this is what I could remember.

Stream of consciousness for accuracy

Katz:

more police but no pricetag there’ll be a helicopter soon police association endorsement like those guys contract is up soon i think parking lots downtown do i care about surface parking damn parking boxes don’t always work didn’t sam say he didn’t like spending money on parties ciclovia numbers are inflated i think poll numbers say it close but what does that mean the streets in this city suck they’re really awful recruits graduating today haircut he wears that purple blazer but it suits him veolia is overblown how else will we find billion for sewer selinger isn’t likely to give up revenue now that hes gotta pay for all those new prosecutors has sam ever listened to a police scanner after midnight on a saturday is the ambulance issue overblown why doesn’t wrha fix the problem

Judy:

don’t know much about her apparently soft on crime how will police react if she wins can she work with police how much is hidden vision is great but does she know how city hall works seems very charismatic talks with hands a lot transparency is a problem tired from spelling her name powerline come on really specifics i’d like more of them but maybe change would be good how long is four years really will the city ever get better property tax raise i can live with but parkade plan and wpa seems lowballed at least she shows up to things pensions

Then I went in and voted. Then I got that haircut.

Then I took some photos to relax.

First: Construction is well underway on the so-called ‘half-signal’ at Wardlaw and Osborne:

Next, it seems South Osborne is getting a paint job – and is a fixture of the community — Woo’s Cafe — no longer?

Then, feeling that chill in the air coming from the north, I went to shoot what may be some of the final fall colours of the year.

Embattled in River Heights

What is it about the electoral ward of River Heights-Fort Garry that the councillor’s race becomes so acrimonious? This just landed in my email box:

Children of Late Councillor Brenda Leipsic Shift Support to Kowalson

October 15, 2010

Citing disgust at City Councillor John Orlikow’s claims for the work done by their mother Brenda Leipsic, Greg and Tracy Leipsic have shifted their support to candidate Michael Kowalson in the hotly contested ward of River Heights-Fort Garry.

John Orlikow issued a release on October 3rd where he says he “successfully lobbied the City to add 1.1 million dollars to its 2011 Capital Plan for a study of a Waverly train crossing underpass” and that he was “surprised when he came to office that there was no funds dedicated to this project”.

His statement ignores the record. The City’s 2007 Capital Budget shows clearly that in fact these funds were already dedicated for the study, and it was Councillor Brenda Leipsic who had successfully lobbied for it years earlier.

“In taking credit for my mother’s work, John Orlikow dishonours my mother’s memory. It shows that he is not up to the standards set by her in representing the people of this ward. My sister Tracy and I are calling on him to apologize for misleading the residents of this ward about the Waverley study” said Greg Leipsic.

“We have known John for a long time and supported him in the 2009 by-election, but we have been very disappointed in his performance and when he pulled this stunt we felt we could no longer hold our silence” said Leipsic.

With two weeks until voters go to the polls, the move is seen as another a blow to Orlikow who has stumbled badly in the last few weeks amidst furor over his lack of consultation with residents in the ward on traffic calming issues. “The people in this ward would have been treated with more respect by my mother on these traffic issues” said Greg Leipsic.

“Its surprising how he takes credit for others achievements, but denies responsibility for his own decisions” said Leipsic.

In switching their support to Michael Kowalson, Leipsic added   “He has the experience, honesty and leadership to make principled decisions that is lacking in our current Councillor” .

-30-

And then this followed:

WINNIPEG – John Orlikow, City Councillor for River Heights – Fort Garry, says that his opponent Michael Kowalson not only set up a phony citizen’s group to hold a rally attacking him, but brought a Conservative consultant who doesn’t even live in the ward to pad the crowd. A picture of Kowalson in the Free Press shows Braydon Mazurkiewich – a former assistant to Conservative MPs Steven Fletcher and Shelly Glover – standing holding a sign that says “Where’s the Consultation?” On his Twitter account, http://twitter.com.y2bray, Mazurkiewich tweeted “Did anyone see me on #CTV #CBC #Global or the #Winnipeg Free Press website today?” Mazurkiewich is not on the voter’s list in River Heights-Fort Garry. A phone call confirmed he lives in St. Vital. “First we discovered that the “Concerned Citizens for River Heights” was being run entirely out of Michael Kowalson’s office, now we find it has members who are not from River Heights,” said Orlikow. “I would like to know just how many more of that crowd were Conservatives from outside the ward.”  Mazurkiewich’s resume (link below) says he was an assistant to Conservative MPs Shelly Glover and Steven Fletcher and that he worked in “Political Operations” at the Conservative Party Headquarters in Ottawa, His site goes on to say that he “is a political advisor to many candidates and elected officials in Manitoba. Braydon has served the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and many Civic politicians in several capacities and is a lifelong supporter of conservative initiatives.”Kowalson, whose facebook pages lists his political affiliation as “independent” is also a longtime political activist in both the provincial PCs and federal Conservative party. Kowalson is President of the River Heights PC Association, and campaign manager for Federal Conservative candidate Raymond Hall, and his campaign has been endorsed by Steven Fletcher and Rod Bruinooge (http://twitpic.com/25o5kt) The anonymous group “Concerned Citizens for River Heights” dumped flyers calling Orlikow “cowardly” and calling for residents to join a rally on Oct 13. Jan Currier, wife of Orlikow’s opponent in the 2009 election admitted to writing the letter and supporting Kowalson. The head of the group, Peter Smith, sits on the board of the River Heights PC Association with Kowalson. The group’s first meeting was in the Kowalson campaign office, they distributed flyers from there, and on Oct 12 invited participants to a meeting to go over “media lines” prior to the rally. -30- For More Information, Contact: John OrlikowCity Councillor for River Heights-Fort Garry Ph: 453-1818Campaign Office: 1693 Corydon St. Background: Mazurkiewich’s Twitter Feed: http://twitter.com/y2brayHis resume from his website “Vote Braydon”http://www.votebraydon.ca/main/?page_id=2“Braydon was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He graduated from Collège Béliveau and studied marketing and politics at the University of Manitoba.While attending university, Braydon worked for the Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface, Shelly Glover, in Winnipeg. He then went to Ottawa to work for the Minister of Democratic Reform, Steven Fletcher and was quickly promoted to work in Political Operations at the Headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. Braydon was then offered a position in Regina, Saskatchewan to advise Andrew Scheer, the Member of Parliament for Regina-Qu’Appelle and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. Braydon then returned to Winnipeg in late 2009 and started his own Marketing and Consulting firm, he acts as the Chief Executive Officer of y2bray Consulting and is a political advisor to many candidates and elected officials in Manitoba.”Braydon has served the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and many Civic politicians in several capacities and is a lifelong supporter of conservative initiatives.” Image from the Winnipeg Free Press: Michael Kowalson is in the foreground,  Mazurkiewich in the back.

2006: Benham and Leipsic

2009: Orlikow and Courier

2010: Orlikow and Kowalson

“Not a crime disaster”

Good, workmanlike article about the Mynarski ward and crime from Rob Brown at the weeklies.

At the bottom:

Candidate Ross Eadie said less bureaucracy, not necessarily more cops, is needed to address the crime issue.

The North End is not a crime disaster, and neighbourhood police should be deciding where they are needed the most,” he said, adding that the Winnipeg Police Service should release more statistics on violent crimes to members of the public.

Don’t know about you, but there’s few other areas of the city where a 21-year-old mom can get shot and killed on her way to her car outside a reputed gang hangout and it barely raises a peep out of the “leadership” — or anyone else for that matter— in Winnipeg.

Phil Haiart, the son of a city doctor, was shot and killed crossing the street in the West End on Oct. 10, 2005.

By Oct. 13, there were screaming headlines like this one:

Will Phillipe’s killing be last straw?

and:

Teen’s death ‘call to arms’

By Oct. 14, the police service was weighing in:

Courts too soft, Ewatski warns

Coun. Russ Wyatt attempts to hold a public meeting of council to have a frank public discussion about drugs, crime and gangs in Winnipeg. He’s accused of grandstanding on the back of a tragedy and the meeting request is shot down.

One week after Haiart’s killing, we start to see:

City heeds ‘call to arms’

Winnipeg Free Press
Tue Oct 18 2005
Page: A1
Section: City
Byline: Bill Redekop

WINNIPEGGERS came together on several fronts yesterday to demand changes to conditions that led to last week’s death of an innocent 17-year-old bystander caught in a gang gunfight.

They seemed to have heard the “call to arms” that Philippe Haiart’s friends and family said his death represented.

At 3 p.m., Winnipeg Police Insp. Boyd Campbell received news that eight of 23 police graduates will be assigned to his inner city precinct, where Haiart’s shooting occurred, starting in two weeks.

Then, the next day:

A chance to voice our shared disgust over gang violence

Headlines like this continued for about 2 weeks (see above Re: police officers) and then:

‘In-your-face’ blitz unveiled

Winnipeg Free Press
Wed Oct 26 2005
Page: A1
Section: City
Byline: Bruce Owen

MAYOR Sam Katz and Police Chief Jack Ewatski teamed up yesterday to “take back our streets” with a blitz involving 45 police officers.

They announced Operation Clean Sweep and warned “in-your-face-policing” will target gangs, prostitution and drugs.

“We don’t need an ivory-tower policy discussion,” Katz said at an outdoor news conference at Langside Street and Sargent Avenue, near the site where St. John’s-Ravenscourt School graduate Philippe Haiart, 17, was killed by gang fire on Oct. 10.

And “operation clean sweep” was born, and would live on as a hallmark moment for policing and public safety in Winnipeg.

But three days after Tiffany Johnson was gunned down, there’s no evidence of a start to such a buildup or angry condemnation of what happened to her, except maybe from the police service.

And I mean from everyone: The community, the media, the politicians and the police service.

I suppose I just wonder why.

Is it that North End crime has become so ingrained in our minds that we — all of us — just look the other way?

Usually one can’t take one’s eyes off a disaster. Maybe that means Eadie’s right.

But I don’t think that’s it.

-30-

“Some voters don’t trust you on crime”

Feature interview (and a puzzling headline) with mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis in today’s FP.

Some interesting stuff there, but it’s odd how “the most important issue of the election” is buried 22 paragraphs in, and there’s two paragraphs of response on it. Still, here’s what was said.

I understand that not all of what she said would make into print — after all, it was Bart Kives himself who taught me to “kill my orphans” when transcribing a Q&A for the paper.

But let’s look at how Judy responded [at least in part]….

FP: Some voters don’t trust you on crime. What would you say to them?

JWL: I think Winnipeggers understand this is a difficult issue. You have to get at the roots of crime, not just policing and not just building law-and-order stuff. You have to approach this from all angles.

I know (Winnipeggers) are looking for solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with this issue. I’ve put my plan on the table and I hope Sam will put his on the table. This is probably the most important issue of the election, one that requires the most thoughtful debate and discussion.

Yes, it is a difficult issue. The problem is that crime-prevention programs largely take time to take effect — sometimes over a generation. That’s a noble goal.

But as much as Winnipeggers may be looking for “solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with” crime, there’s a level of frustration with the general feeling of lawlessness in the city that people want something done about, pronto.

Gun crime seems rampant. Hauls from drug busts keep getting bigger and bigger all the time (an indication of demand). Extreme violence seems to erupt out of nowhere. It’s unsettling.

We can have all the effective problem-solvers in the room that you want, but people probably would prefer action.

People want to trust that the city’s given the police executive the tools and expertise to do what’s truly necessary, but that’s a story for another day.

Katz has proposed additional officers — 20 to check and monitor gang bangers, 18 for a new cruiser car etc. He hasn’t said definitively when we’ll actually get them or how we’ll pay for them, but that’s beside the point.

There’s a cop chopper about to take flight, which, while a cool idea, won’t directly put handcuffs on anybody.

Point is, Katz’s proposals seem to point to somewhat of an immediate — albeit very in-the short-term — “solution” to today’s issues.

I’d bet for the average person, hearing about more police on the way must be somewhat reassuring. And that, ultimately is what’s playing well for Katz on the crime front in this campaign. Even if it is blase.

People don’t get the same level of reassurance from knowing gangsters will get jobs, or that there’s a number they can call to tip off police about crime activity.

We’ve had the latter in the form of Crime Stoppers for eons now and it does what it does, which is good, but it’s difficult to say it makes anyone safer in a tangible sense.

I’d urge Judy to look over the eight weeks of the Police Public Reporting Project to get a real sense of what police are contending with.

Namely, a trend of repeat, often violent offenders who are released by the courts and quickly become reinvolved and have to be rearrested.

While there’s little the city can do to effect change on what’s a provincial and federal responsibility, the data could possibly point to some possible solutions.

In turn, that would reassure people that those in charge — or those who say they want to be — know what the problems actually are.

Speaking of which, that’s the one thing missing from the public talk of Katz’s and the WPA’s GRASP program, and it’s surprising given all the comparison it gets to the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy.

Data.

WATSS was built on a comprehensive survey and study of police and Justice data about the top teen auto-theft offenders in the city.

Watching who was involved, when, with who else, how long they spent in jail, when they were released. By identifying patterns in the data, solutions were found.

It also was a tri-level initiative. Police, prosecutors, probation officers (and MPI). Everyone worked together.

[BTW – how much of a factor did mandatory immobilizers for ‘most-at-risk’ vehicles play in slashing auto-theft rates?]

So far, what I’ve heard about GRASP (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was first announced in Sept. 2009, again BTW) is that it’s a solely police-led program. That’s a red flag for me, personally. They can’t do it all.

But the timing of the GRASP program’s [re]announcement shows us something.

Remember,in September 2009, the public outrage over gangs after the shooting death of a woman at a wedding social on Main Street was at its peak. The police and justice officials were getting hammered daily in the press.

And then, voila! A solution is announced.

And the public was reassured. Gangs quickly died off as a top-of-mind issue.

Cheryl Roberts killing remains unsolved, at least publicly.

After the Taman Inquiry, people’s confidence in Manitoba’s police in general was flagging. Fairly or not, that’s the way it played out.

The province brought in a new police act, which was supposed to deal with the most pressing issues the public had with police and their accountability. It also disbanded the East St. Paul police force.

And the public was reassured.

As of next April, it will be two years since the new police act was introduced.

Maybe the province is saving its implementation for this election year.

Y’know, to reassure people.

-30-

Mr. Swan goes to Vancouver

 

Andrew Swan is Manitoba's justice minister and attorney general

 

Interesting news statement from the provincial Justice minister a few moments ago.

STRENGTHENING YOUTH CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT TO HEAD MANITOBA’S AGENDA AT JUSTICE MINISTERS’ MEETINGS: SWAN
– – –
Province Also Supports Tougher Penalties for Johns to Reduce Sexual Exploitation

Making public safety a priority by strengthening the Youth
Criminal Justice Act and providing tougher consequences for johns
top the agenda Manitoba will put forward at a federal, provincial
and territorial (FPT) justice ministers’ meeting next week in
Vancouver, Attorney General Andrew Swan said today.

 

“Manitobans have a right to feel safe in their homes and in their

communities.  We work very hard every day to help protect them by
strengthening our laws as well as investing in police, in
prosecutors and in crime prevention,” said Swan.  “We have moved
ahead with new provincial legislative tools and now we are
calling on Ottawa to improve key federal legislation.”

Manitoba has repeatedly called for the reform of the Youth
Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) at past FPT meetings.  At this
meeting, Swan said he will raise concerns about Bill C-4 which
proposes YCJA amendments.  The minister said the bill, currently
before Parliament, does not adequately address deficiencies in
YCJA bail and sentencing provisions and needs to be changed to
deal more effectively with serious and repeat young offenders.
Swan said he will call upon FPT ministers to commit to a special
meeting on the YCJA if the parliamentary standing committee
currently reviewing the bill does not address Manitoba’s
concerns.

He said Manitoba will also suggest the Criminal Code should be
amended to provide Crown attorneys with the ability to seek
increased penalties for johns, in order to reduce sexual
exploitation, diminish negative impacts on communities where
prostitution is taking place and disrupt a key source of revenue
for organized crime.

In order to allow more time for police officers to be on the
streets, Swan said he will support recommendations to amend the
Criminal Code to permit routine police evidence to be presented
by written document rather than requiring police to spend time in
court giving oral testimony on such matters.

The meeting will take place Oct. 13 to 15 in Vancouver.

From the Canadian Bar Association:

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) National Criminal Justice Section says that while Bill C-4, Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments, contains some necessary changes, it should not be passed as it would undermine the long term protection of society.

“The CBA supports an approach to youth justice that leads to greater public safety over the long haul,” says Scott Bergman of Toronto, Member of the National Criminal Justice Section. “The Bill moves away from a restorative and rehabilitative model of youth justice to a more punitive model, which is both unnecessary and contrary to sound public policy based on well-accepted social science.”

In its submission, the CBA says the Bill would mean more young people would go to jail for longer periods of time, although youth crime has not been increasing, and the diversion and rehabilitation goals of the current Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) have been working well.

The submission notes that according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, overall crime has been falling since the early 1990s and violent youth crime has remained stable for several years. “Every province and territory has experienced reductions in youth court caseloads since the introduction of the YCJA, and fewer youth cases are resulting in jail sentences being imposed.”

“In other words,” says Scott Bergman, “there are fewer court cases and fewer youth in custody without any related increase in violent youth crime.”

The CBA is also concerned that the proposed amendments seem to send a message that three key participants in the criminal justice system – the police, Crown counsel and the judiciary – should not be trusted with discretionary powers. “The CBA opposes amendments which would directly or indirectly discourage these groups from exercising their professional discretion under the YCJA. Discretion is the cornerstone of a just system,” notes the brief.

Bill C-4 (first reading version) in its entirety here.

Manitoba’s in a tough spot. Many other places in the country don’t have the same youth crime severity problem as we do.

I wish Mr. Swan good luck. I also hope for his presence (and that of Winnipeg’s next mayor and police chief) at the standing committee in Parliament to put Manitoba and Winnipeg’s concerns about youth crime on the record and in full.

If they need some help developing case studies to present, I know a few people who would be glad to help out.

McCaskill on ‘the picture’

H/t to CBC’s Sean Kavanagh who asked Winnipeg police chief Keith McCaskill about the picture being used by Sam Katz’ reelection team that depicts he – in full uniform no less –  and the incumbent Katz mugging for the camera.

Here’s the chief’s response, in full:

As police chief, I don’t believe I should be endorsing anybody. The idea – I’m here as an employee of the City of Winnipeg, running the police service. My job is to do the best I can for the citizens of Winnipeg.

There’s an election campaign on now and whoever’s successful is successful. I’m pleased with what’s been happening for the past while, but, there’s two people running and we’ll see who wins. And at the end of the day, the public decides, not me.

Q: Have you been contacted by political campaigns for permission to use your image?

I haven’t been yet by anybody. I certainly have been approached by a lot of people running for council and asking my opinion on things and I give it to them. If anybody asks my opinion on things I give it to them, and I will continue to do that.

…And I work with the councillors at the City of Winnipeg and regularly ask my opinion on things and I give it to them. And I should. I think that’s my role. But I don’t endorse anybody.