Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says "silence" isn’t the same as "rejection."
Although his sudden request Tuesday morning for a formal joint meeting with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to deal with the violence that is sweeping the city went unanswered, Bowman told reporters Wednesday it doesn’t mean they rejected the appeal.
Pallister didn’t acknowledge having received Bowman’s letter when asked about it later Tuesday, and the Prime Minister’s Office said it forwarded the message to Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair, who invited the mayor to a meeting on the issue.
Pallister will be meeting with the PM, separately, on Friday.
Bowman, however, remains undaunted.
The mayor said he has met, and will continue to meet, with the ministers of both levels of government, but this issue warrants a meeting of the three leaders.
"We are dealing with a situation right now in the city of Winnipeg that really does require the attention of the prime minister and the premier," Bowman said Wednesday. "We will look forward to hearing back from the Prime Minister’s Office and the premier’s office in due course."
Bowman said while all three levels of government have launched safety initiatives, "None of the efforts by any level of government to date are enough to deal with the root causes of crime... I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of the residents I serve before other levels of government to try to facilitate greater collaboration amongst all of us."
Pallister told reporters Wednesday no one should interpret his non-response as a thumbs-down to the idea, but added he's doesn't book meetings through the media.
"None of the efforts by any level of government to date are enough to deal with the root causes of crime... I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of the residents I serve before other levels of government to try to facilitate greater collaboration amongst all of us.” - Mayor Brian Bowman
Pallister was also adamant he is on good terms with the Winnipeg mayor.
"I want to address this: Mayor Bowman and I have a good relationship. We talk regularly. I will say from my end, that I like the mayor," the premier said.
Unlike his terse comments the day prior, Pallister said the idea of a joint meeting with the three leaders has merit.
In some circumstances, such conferences have produced good results, he said — such as the recommendations from the tri-level task force on illicit drugs released in June.
"I don’t dispute there’s always the possibility of gaining something from a meeting. I think that the idea that Manitobans want us to pursue is action, not just meetings and discussion," he said.
The Manitoba premier said he will raise the issue of crime and public safety in his meeting with Trudeau.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.