Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves tried for the second day in a row to link front-runner Judy Wasylycia-Leis to the NDP provincial government.
Standing in front of the steps of the legislative building Wednesday afternoon, Steeves accused a member of Premier Selinger’s staff of working with the Wasylycia-Leis’ campaign, adding that is inappropriate if she wins the election.
Steeves acknowledged he doesn’t know if Selinger is working on Wasylycia-Leis’ behalf but added the link between the two exists. Steeves said he believes Wasylycia-Leis, if elected mayor, will not be able to confront Selinger on a variety of issues after a member of his staff worked on her campaign.
"The relationship between the mayor and premier is a negotiation," Steeves said. "If, after the election, the premier can look you in the eye and say, ‘remember, I was the one who got you elected,’ the relationship cannot work."
Peter Dalla-Vicenza, Wasylycia-Leis’ director of communications, confirmed he is employed as a policy analyst with the Selinger policy management secretariat, adding he is on an unpaid leave for the duration of the civic election campaign.
Steeves said he probably has PC and Liberal party members working on his campaign, but added it’s inappropriate for someone from Selinger’s office to be working for Wasylycia-Leis.
Steeves spent his Tuesday morning news conference in front of Wasylycia-Leis’ campaign office, where he tried to link her to the NDP Pawley government of the mid- to late-1980s, when she briefly served as a provincial cabinet minister, and which he described as "Judy’s government."
Steeves renewed the comparison Wednesday, linking Wasylycia-Leis — a former NDP MP and MLA who has been retired for several years — to current Selinger NDP government’s financial record and its broken promise on the PST increase, and accused her of supporting financial policies that would saddle the city with more debt.
"There is no discernible difference between Judy and the NDP," Steeves said. "Judy and the NDP are now trying to take control of the city of Winnipeg, as they are already in control of the provincial government."
Steeves said Wasylycia-Leis will have to increase taxes even higher to cover the increased borrowing costs that will result from a decision by credit rating agency Moody’s to downgrade the city’s long-term financial forecast.
Steeves denied he is running a scare campaign against Wasylycia-Leis, a tactic Sam Katz employed four years ago when he launched a phone campaign with the message that seniors would lose their homes if she were elected mayor.
"I want to make sure we are highlighting differences between candidates," Steeves said of his constant referral to Wasylycia-Leis and the NDP. "I don’t know if (her ties to the NDP government) causes other people concern or not. That is obviously up to them."
Steeves challenged Wasylycia-Leis to publicly distance herself from the provincial government.