A prominent business group is spearheading an effort to organize a summit of business, labour, government and social service agencies to tackle the rising problem of retail crime.
The Retail Council of Canada is leading the initiative, in conjunction with several other business groups. They are preparing a joint letter to the province requesting the meeting.
John Graham, a Prairies spokesman for the retail council, said his organization is supported by the Winnipeg and Manitoba chambers of commerce, Manitoba Hotel Association and Canadian Federation of Independent Business in its request for a summit.
The group envisions a non-partisan approach that would involve all three levels of government and representatives from a cross-section of the community, he said.
"This is obviously a concern that impacts all retailers, and it’s really an issue that is well beyond retail. It is a community-wide issue," Graham said.
In the legislature Thursday, Premier Brian Pallister was dismissive when the Opposition New Democrats called for a summit to grapple with the alarming number of liquor-store thefts in the province. The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) , which represents Liquor Mart employees, has also called on the province to organize such a summit.
"That’s a nice idea. Like the NDP, the MGEU has never put forward an idea until there was a violent action, and now they come up with ideas," the premier told reporters afterward.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. (MLL) has responded to the recent spate of robberies — including an unprovoked attack Wednesday at its Tyndall Park Market Liquor Mart, during which three employees were assaulted — by announcing the introduction of new security measures at the entrances to its outlets. Customers will be required to show valid photo ID before they are admitted.
The provincial government said the measures will be introduced at all Liquor Marts in Winnipeg.
Graham called the new measures "significant" and "certainly not common" in North American retail.
He said there is a risk MLL will lose business to private beer vendors and wine stores because of the inconvenience to customers.
On the other hand, he said, the new measures may have the benefit of making customers feel more safe while shopping at government-run liquor stores.
— Larry Kusch
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.