‘Equate debate’ gets heated as mayoral hopefuls square off
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2022 (224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Five mayoral candidates who have trailed behind in recent public opinion polls made their case to voters on Thursday, during a sometimes heated livestreamed debate that included one threat of a lawsuit.
After not being invited to CBC’s televised debate of mayoral frontrunners a day earlier, candidates Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Rick Shone and Don Woodstock faced off against each other in a small studio in the basement of a south St. Vital home.
Organizers said mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk was also invited but declined to attend the event shortly before it began.
Aside from a few doorbells heard as the hour-long “Equate Debate” was livestreamed on ChrisD.ca and ILikeHue.com, the tone mostly matched others seen so far, with lengthy discussions on crime and addictions.
The most heated exchange took place between Woodstock and Bokhari, during a debate on how best to further reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers.
“We need to start looking at this thing from the issue of Indigenous men,” said Woodstock, referring to his previous comments at a mayoral forum that multiple Indigenous leaders condemned at the time.
During a women’s safety forum in September, Woodstock suggested First Nations men need to “come to the table” to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Many believed he was suggesting Indigenous men are often perpetrators of violence against Indigenous women.
When he referred to the comments again on Thursday, Bokhari quickly interrupted, telling Woodstock “I think it’s really important that you stop perpetuating that stereotype.”
Woodstock then threatened Bokhari with a lawsuit.
“Rana, stop, because you call me names and eventually (we’re going) end up with you with a lawsuit,” he said.
Following the debate, Bokhari, a lawyer, said she believes such a lawsuit would be “frivolous.”
“If he’s talking about libel or defamation, he hasn’t met any of the legal tests to have that happen,” she said.
When asked by reporters, Woodstock did not provide clarity on the type of lawsuit he is threatening to raise, saying he’ll explore the matter further after the election.
As for reconciliation, multiple candidates promised to improve consultation with Indigenous people and implement calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
During the debate, the candidates also weighed in on how to combat crime in the city, with Bokhari stating her pledge to create a safe consumption site is critical.
“Everything is connected. Crime is connected to poverty, poverty and homelessness are connected and the rampant drug addiction issues in this city are all connected… The evidence-based way to proceed when it comes to crime is get to the root of it and that means creating a safe consumption site,” she said.
Shone also supported safe consumption sites.
“We have an addictions crisis, we have people living in bus shacks… we need a formal, safe space where people can come and actually be (wrapped) around with supports,” he said.
Bokhari also called to transfer 10 per cent of the police budget to social groups for crime prevention, arguing increasing the police budget doesn’t reduce crime. Shone rejected that idea.
“Right now, 80 per cent of the police budget is actually tied up in salaries and contracts so unless we’re willing to lay off a ton of people, we really can’t do a 10 per cent decrease at this point,” he said.
None of the five candidates committed to freezing taxes. While Shone expressed concern about inflation during the debate, he told reporters he would keep the 2.33 per cent property tax hike planned for 2023 in the city’s four-year, 2020 to 2023 budget. Bokhari, Clacio and Adelakun said they would do the same, while Woodstock plans to levy a 1.5 per cent tax hike and cut costs.
The debate comes one day after Scott Gillingham, Kevin Klein, Shaun Loney, Glen Murray and Robert-Falcon Ouellette faced off during a live debate at CBC Manitoba’s downtown studio on Wednesday. CBC invited all mayoral candidates who polled above 10 per cent support (after factoring in the margin of error) in a Probe Research poll released in late September, instead of including all 11 contenders.
When its decision was announced, the broadcaster said inviting a smaller group would ensure issues and candidates’ ideas could be explored in greater depth.
Election Day is 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.