By: Bartley Kives
Winnipeg Free Press
A Facebook post by the spouse of Gord Steeves has come to light following the mayoral candidate’s pledge to hire more police cadets to patrol downtown Winnipeg and remove intoxicated people from the streets.
On Friday afternoon, the lawyer and former city councillor said he would like to spend $600,000 to $800,000 to devote 20 police cadets to the heart of the city, over and above existing police, cadet and business-improvement-zone patrols, to help reduce chronic public intoxication.
Steeves has spent the past two weeks trying to position himself as the candidate of choice on the right. Within hours of his announcement, a seldom-used Twitter account began circulating a screen-capture of a 2010 Facebook post by Lorrie Steeves, the candidate’s spouse, expressing dissatisfaction with "getting harassed by the drunken native guys" in downtown Winnipeg skywalks.
Steeves has been asked to comment on the post, whose authenticity has been verified. The account that initially distributed the screen-capture of the post, @DarlingDarleneJ, had never been used to issue a tweet before today.
Standing outside Portage Place earlier Friday, Steeves said Winnipeggers do not feel safe downtown, in spite of recent improvements in surveys about the perception of safety in the heart of Winnipeg.
He claimed a small group of chronic offenders are responsible for the majority of charges under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act and he would like to see those people sent to social-service agencies.
Steeves acknowledged he would need police-board approval to apply new resources downtown. He also said he has not consulted the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, which already administers patrol programs, about his plan.
He claimed what he is proposing would augment existing programs. He also praised recent developments that are bringing more people downtown, but said safety issues must be addressed first.
In a written statement, he also said he would create a network of downtown closed-circuit TV cameras - but then verbally said that was an error.
Fellow mayoral candidate Mike Vogiatzakis also has promised a downtown CCTV network.