IT turns out new Canadians want what everyone else does: anti-gang programs to get kids away from guns and crime, plus clean, affordable housing and jobs.

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This article was published 28/9/2011 (3548 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

IT turns out new Canadians want what everyone else does: anti-gang programs to get kids away from guns and crime, plus clean, affordable housing and jobs.

Those were the major concerns expressed Wednesday evening at an election forum called Your Vote Counts, put on by a coalition of West End community groups.

"In this area, it's crime and safety. And whoever is elected should do a better job of making newcomers feel safe," said Denys Volkov.

Volkov emigrated from Ukraine and took out Canadian citizenship last fall. Since then, he's voted in the civic election, the spring federal election and now is ready to cast his first ballot in a provincial election.

The forum, held at Wellington School, was standing-room only. There was a lot of laughter in the room as Liberal candidate for the Minto riding, Don Woodstock, deliberately baited incumbent NDP MLA Andrew Swan from the start.

"Mr. Swan... take your helicopters, take your jails. You're fired," Woodstock declared.

The combative rhetoric sent a wave of titters through the audience. "I think Don is trying to get under Swan's skin. And he did," said Volkov, grinning. "I think they're both working for the same goal."

For Julian Arcega, the issue of getting a good job is directly linked to education -- but the province has to make it easier for immigrants' qualifications to be recognized so they can fit in faster. "I'm here to represent Philippine youth immigrants, the ones who finished high school and started college or university but didn't finish before they came here. They have to go back to high school and, as a result, they find themselves in minimum-wage jobs," Arcega said.

Other candidates for the Minto riding who attended included Belinda Squance of the PCs, Harold Dyck of the Green Party and Cheryl-Anne Carr of the Communist Party of Canada-Manitoba.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca