Ouellette vows to make city safer if elected mayor
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/05/2022 (274 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette will try a second time to become Winnipeg’s mayor, and if successful, he vows to tackle addictions and safety concerns.
Before serving as a Liberal member of Parliament from 2015 to 2019, Ouellette ran for mayor in 2014. A largely unknown candidate at the time, he managed to finish in third, behind Brian Bowman and runner-up Judy Wasylycia-Leis, in a field of nine candidates, including two former city councillors.
This time around, Ouellette says he’s inspired to increase supports for those experiencing addictions and/or homelessness, while improving safety.
Ouellette linked his decision to enter the mayoral race back to a public meet-and-greet session at Portage Place, which he held as an MP in 2016. He said a young Indigenous woman, who was using drugs and was forced to enter the sex trade to pay for them, approached him for help.
He reached out to community organizations to try to find drug treatment for the woman but that effort was futile since the services weren’t available, he said.
“We weren’t able to find those supports … and she was very upset. She didn’t want to have to go back out on the streets, to have to feed that addiction. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as an MP,” said Ouellette.
While he acknowledged the city had joined the provincial and federal governments to create an illicit drug task force years ago, which he participated in, he said there is still a need for more partnerships between governments and community organizations.
Ouellette stressed the need to reduce crime on and around buses, stating many people no longer feel safe using them.
“I’d love our children to be able to get on a city bus and be there at 10 o’clock at night and not have to be deadly worried that something bad is going to happen to them while they’re waiting at a bus stop. We shouldn’t have to accept a city where that happens. Now, potholes are extremely important, but a city is far larger than just simply potholes,” he said.
The union for Winnipeg Transit drivers has long warned that dangerous bus incidents are far too common, including several instances in which riders grabbed the steering wheel last year. In mid-September 2021, three passengers were assaulted on buses within a seven-day period, including two who were stabbed.
Ouellette did not explain how he would address that issue or combat addictions, noting specific platform ideas will be shared in the campaign.
He became the sixth candidate to register for the mayoral race on Tuesday.
City Coun. Scott Gillingham, business owner Rick Shone, business development consultant Jenny Motkaluk, security business owner Don Woodstock and civic activist Chris Clacio had already registered.
Coun. John Orlikow has declared his intention to run and social enterprise leader Shaun Loney will make his campaign official Wednesday.
Bowman is not seeking re-election.
Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and council on Oct. 26.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
Updated on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 3:42 PM CDT: Add's Shaun Loney to launch campaign Wednesday.