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Ouellette pledges he'd deal with century-old social issues

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Robert-Falcon Ouellette says he doesn't want our children to be facing the same problems of a 'divided city' in 20 years.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Robert-Falcon Ouellette says he doesn't want our children to be facing the same problems of a 'divided city' in 20 years. Photo Store

Winnipeg has been amalgamated for more than four decades, but mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette says you don't have to look far to see what keep us apart.

"We live in a divided city," Ouellette said during an announcement outside city hall during which he promised if elected mayor to work on bringing police, social service agencies, mental- health workers, BIZ organizations and community representatives together to work on making the city safer.

"The city, though, is not divided only based on race, but also economical, poverty, colour, disability and even religious.

"This division is holding us back."

Ouellette said he knows what people on the street face because recently, while dressed in a suit, he went into a few businesses trying to break a $5 bill to give change to someone who asked for money on the street, while still keeping enough so he could pay for his parking. He said three businesses wouldn't do it until he went into one without the man.

That's why Ouellette, a married father of five who is director of the University of Manitoba's aboriginal focus programs, said he wants to see Winnipeg's century-old social issues, including homelessness, poverty and mental illness, finally addressed, and he plans to do that when mayor.

"I don't want our children to be facing the same problems in 20 years," he said. "I want them to say this year was the turning point when they elected a mayor who rose to the challenge and was willing to tackle the big issues and build the city we all hope for."

Ouellette said he disagrees with mayoral candidate Gord Steeves' promise to hire more cadets to get intoxicated people off downtown streets.

"I disagree with having a fortress Winnipeg," he said, adding the money would be better spent on holding events to get more people downtown.

 

-- Kevin Rollason

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2014 A5

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