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Gord Steeves a no-show at bannock handout

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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

"Bannock lady" Althea Guiboche (centre) and her volunteers distribute food and clothing to residents at the corner of Dufferin and Main Sunday. Guiboche invited Gord Steeves and his wife Lorrie to volunteer that afternoon after Lorrie's negative comments regarding homeless men in Winnipeg's downtown surfaced in a 2010 Facebook post. The mayoral hopeful and his wife did not show up. Photo Store

Gord Steeves was a no-show today but the Bannock Lady says he can come another Sunday, when he has time.

"I left it open to him, whenever," said Althea Guiboche, known as the Bannock Lady for her practice of handing out bannock, water and whatever is donated that she can give away. "Any Sunday."

For more than a year, Guiboche has offered to feed the homeless and the poor in the heart of Winnipeg’s North End on Dufferin Avenue at Main Street.

Friday she issued an invitation to the mayoral candidate, inviting Steeves and his wife Lorrie Steeves to help her feed the homeless after racially charged comments on Facebook written by his wife, Lorrie Steeves in 2010 made headlines.

"To me they were just trying to save face by apologizing. But actions speak louder than words and if they were really serious, then they’d take action to amend their statements... it would have been nice of them to show up, to see life from a different perspective," Guiboche said Sunday.

A small crowd was waiting for Guiboche when she pulled up to her regular stop on the north side of Dufferin Avenue, half a block away from Main Street. By the time pizza, bannock, fresh potatoes, peaches and salad were laid out, the crowd had assembled into a quiet line of about 100 people, including parents with kids in strollers.

Friday started out like any other day on the campaign trail but it went south fast.

The lawyer and former St. Vital councillor made a public appearance to announce he would like to spend $600,000 to $800,000 to ensure an additional 20 police cadets patrol the heart of the city, over and above existing police, cadet and business improvement zone patrols and social-work efforts aimed at combating public intoxication.

"No person who is drunk or high will be allowed to linger downtown. No person struggling with mental illness will be left to their own devices downtown," said Steeves, promising to work with the province and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries to more rigorously enforce existing public-intoxication rules. This would require police board approval, he said.

Steeves, who has spent the past two weeks trying to position himself as the mayoral candidate of choice on the right, appeared to be gaining momentum for his campaign with a series of provocative announcements.

Within hours of his downtown-safety pledge, however, a seldom-used Twitter account circulated a screen-capture image of a 2010 Facebook post by Lorrie Steeves, the candidate's spouse, who expressed dissatisfaction with "getting harrassed (sic) by the drunken native guys" in downtown Winnipeg skywalks.

The comments were immediately condemned and Lorrie Steeves issued a public apology.

Steeves campaign issued a notice Sunday that he would make statement Tuesday.

With files from Bart Kives.

History

Updated on Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 6:06 PM CDT: Adds new photo of Sunday afternoon event.

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