Crime top-of-mind in Winnipeg North

MP hopefuls try to convince voters they have a plan


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OTTAWA -- In Winnipeg North riding, the shooting rampage that left two men dead and a 13-year-old girl critically injured has left a deep impression.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2010 (4348 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — In Winnipeg North riding, the shooting rampage that left two men dead and a 13-year-old girl critically injured has left a deep impression.

Residents already wary of the crime waves that haunt their neighbourhoods are even more fearful after the seemingly random attack and the fact police don’t seem close to solving it.

For the candidates vying to be the riding’s next member of Parliament, convincing voters of a plan to combat crime will be critical to winning the race.

BORIS MINKEVICH / winnipeg free press archvies Protesters marched to the Manitoba legislature demanding action following the recent shootings in the North End, which left two men dead and a girl in critical condition.

“For us, (crime) was always a top priority going into this but people are all asking about (the shootings) right now,” said NDP candidate Kevin Chief. “They want to know what are you going to do.”

Liberal Kevin Lamoureux said voters here are frustrated and some have told him they want to move because they just don’t feel safe.

“I have individuals who will not leave their house after 4 p.m.,” said Lamoureux.

A quick glance at the CrimeStat maps on the City of Winnipeg website suggests why crime is a top-of-mind issue.

In the last month alone, Winnipeg North has been the site of at least three slayings, more than a dozen sexual assaults, several shootings and countless robberies and assaults. Most of them are clustered in the few kilometres surrounded by McPhillips Street and Main Street and the CN rail line and Inkster Boulevard.

Since January, nine homicides and 31 shootings have been recorded in the region. Compare that to the relative calm of southern Winnipeg ridings like Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia, Winnipeg South Centre and Winnipeg South, where, since January, there have been two homicides and four shootings. One gets the sense people in Winnipeg North have far more reason to list crime as an election issue.

Lamoureux is critical of the infrastructure funds spent in Winnipeg under the guise of economic stimulus for lesser priorities that have done nothing to give youth in the city alternatives to gang membership.

“Millions of dollars of Canada Action Plan infrastructure money could have been better used to provide additional programming for our young people,” Lamoureux said.

He also thinks the neighbourhoods were hurt by the closing of community police offices.

Chief knows first-hand what crime has done to the neighbourhoods of Winnipeg North, where he has lived all his life.

“I live three streets over from one of the (shootings),” he said.

Chief and his wife welcomed their first child three weeks ago, but despite some pleasant weather since, they haven’t taken their son out in the stroller for a walk.

BORIS MINKEVICH / winnipeg free press archives

“There is no way we’re taking our son for a walk in these circumstances,” said Chief.

Chief said there are things that can be done immediately, like improved street lighting and a heightened police presence.

There are also things to do to help the community live more normally. For instance, Chief is among the organizers of a community centre Halloween party.

“There’s families right now that don’t want their kids going out for Halloween,” said Chief.

“Sometimes it’s about what we can do today.”

Longer term, he said, the community leaders and politicians from different levels of government have to work together to shape the policies that will put violent criminals behind bars and work on preventing crime in the first place.

Conservative candidate Julie Javier was canvassing Thursday and could not be reached for an interview.

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