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Steeves should be forthright about controversy, Ouellette says

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Mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette says he feels sorry for fellow candidate Gord Steeves and his wife.

Speaking at an announcement outside city hall, Ouellette said today Steeves needs to have what he says is a difficult conversation with his wife about the comments she posted on her Facebook site four years ago where she said she was approached by "drunken native guys" downtown.

"As a leader in my community I have a responsibility to ensure that what I say is said appropriately... You have the responsibility to educate those around you. It takes time and it takes love, but it has to be done."

Ouellette, alluding to the fact that Steeves’ wife publicly apologized Friday, but Steeves himself has said nothing about it, said if one wants to be the city’s mayor "you need to be forthright and come forward about issues right away."

Beyond Steeves’ controversy, Ouellette said he disagreed with the candidate’s announcement last week 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.

"We live in a divided city."

Ouellette said the city is divided more than by race, but also poverty, colour, disability and economics.

"I understand there are people afraid to walk downtown," he said during his announcement, adding he knows some people fear going to the Health Sciences Centre with their children because of the area it is in.

"It’s a true fear and they hold it in their hearts. They are afraid of people who are different."

Ouellette said he also faced discrimination recently when, while dressed in a suit, he went in a few businesses trying to break a $5 bill to give some change to someone who asked him for some money on the street. He said three businesses wouldn’t do it until he went into one without the man.

"Are we to judge them... To brush them somewhere else?

"It’s easy for us in the suburbs and other parts to say ‘I pay my taxes. Why don’t others get on with it?’

"Why was I successful as a young man that I didn’t end up on the street? Because of people who cared."

Kevin.Rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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