Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Charleswood-Tuxedo Candidates Debate Aftermath

Just back from the candidates debate moderated by Ernie Nairn, Executive Director for the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Charleswood Ministerial Committee (five churches in the Charleswood area) and the Canadian Mennonite University.

Six of the seven candidates were in attendance and around 350 people were in the audience. There appeared to be some media in the crowd, most noticeably CJOB, CBC and CTV.

Each candidate was allowed an opening and closing response. Five questions posed to the candidates by the moderator and they were made aware of the questions in advance. Those questions were decided upon by a variety of organizations, most of which appeared to come from social organizations with a left orientation. Around 45 minutes of questions were posed by members of the audience.

I am still left undecided when it comes to voting. There is one more candidate debate at Shaftesbury High School on October 20 at 8 pm. I will wait till that time to make my final decision.

The candidates were posed questions on poverty, housing, environmental (including transportation and urban sprawl), crime and taxes.

All of the candidates agreed the city needs a strategy on poverty and on housing. There were few policies offered and most said nothing could be done without the province. No one answered the question on whether condo conversions should be regulated by the city. Livio Ciaralli said that the city should consult with developers rather than dictate to them. No one really had a solution for people who rent.

In terms of the environment, most of the candidates talked about working with the province and better planning. Jarret Hannah said that he had a business dealing with the environment the last couple of years. Wendy Lenton said that she had done traffic consulting as her main business and understood planning.

On crime, Paula Havixbeck stated a few times that she had the police and firefighter unions supporting her and that she supported a new police station for Charleswood. Jarret Hannah said that the police station was already in the works and that he was looking at better community programs and watches. Wendy Lenton also talked about community watches and additional police. Livio Ciaralli said most of the crime in the area was petty crime but said he would give the police and firefighters anything they wanted. He also said he would drive criminals 20 miles out of town to laughter and a little confusion about whether he was serious.Steve Szego talked about better efficiency for the police and getting some of the paperwork streamlined so they weren't buried in it. Timothy Martin talked of neighbourhood watches and a balanced approach to policing and efficiencies.

On taxes, Steve Szego would look at all avenues before ending the freeze. Paula Havixbeck stuck to a freeze. Livio Ciaralli said that he would fight to get a fair 1% share of sales tax from the province. He said he was not in favour of property tax increase. The only candidate to say they favoured a modest increase was Wendy Lenton.

When it came to questions from the public:

Asked about who they would support as mayor:

All said they would work with either of the two main contenders. Timothy Martin, Jarret Hannah and Livio Ciaralli indicated they favoured Sam Katz and some of his policies. Paula Havixbeck said Katz was a "man of integrity".

On rapid transit:

Jarret Hannah said finish BRT. Steve Szego talked about better planning but that we needed public transit. Livio Ciaralli was dubious about rapid transit and said we had pretty good transit already. Timothy Martin supported rapid transit along with Wendy Lenton.

On infrastructure:

All candidates supported better support for infrastructure. Wendy Lenton said the roads were deplorable and Paula Havixbeck said Kenaston was an embarrassment.

On extending William R. Clement Parkway:

All candidates supported extending it but many said that the dog park should find a new home.

On term limits:

All candidates supported it in principle. None would agree to a referendum on it.

On paramedics having enough numbers:

Paula Havixbeck thinks they have enough. Jarret Hannah and Timothy Martin ambulances are tied up at hospitals. Wendy Lenton says the numbers indicate that Winnipeg does not have enough ambulances. Livio Ciarelli says he would given them what they wanted in support.

On education being removed on property tax:

All candidates support its removal.

On what the main issue is for the Charleswood-Tuxedo ward:

All candidates except Paula Havixbeck said that infrastructure and traffic were the main issues in the ward. She thought crime was the main issue. It should be mentioned that Wendy Lenton received the only spontaneous mass applause from the crowd by stating she wanted to keep Charleswood rural in its look and feel.


My view of the debate was that it was very polite. The only time I saw a jab was when Steve Szego said he would be non-partisan and have no political affiliation. Paula Havixbeck smiled at the remark as it seemed directed at her.

I was disappointed that Dashi Zargani was not present. He will have a hard time winning a lot of people over if he is not present at the next candidate debate.

Livio Ciarelli needs to be more concise in the timeframe of the question and answer. His focus on the 1% sales tax is an important one but it was too narrow. His answer on crime was probably not what most of the audience wanted to hear.

Paula Havixbeck appeared to have the big blue Progressive Conservative machine present. She was polished and hardest line on crime of anyone but the constant reminder of the support she was getting from firefighter and police unions was a bit overbearing. I kept thinking of what exactly was promised for that support.

Timothy Martin was too vague in a lot of his answers and seemed to drift a bit in his responses.

Wendy Lenton was fairly articulate on some of her answers but was not giving enough indications of how she was more outstanding in terms of ideas.

Steve Szego was too scripted. He also needed to find a way to break free from the pack.

Jarret Hannah was the most genial of the candidates, gave answers that were understandable and focused.

I have not decided who to vote for yet. I will attend the next candidates debate but what I will be looking for is a little more animated responses, less drift in the answers, a little more clarity in policy ideas and perhaps one or two outstanding initiatives that bring some excitement to the ward.

What might be some of those break from the crowd ideas?

How about lowering the voting age to 16 for municipal elections?
How about raising the closing date for bars to 4 or 5 am?
How about getting a Winnipeg exemption for Sunday shopping hours?

I will leave it to the candidates to think outside the box from here.

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Anonymous said...

Sorry Dude, I'm not fixated on the 1% PST. I said it was what Sam was after. I am after much more. As far as answering the questions. Hard to answer when it all revolves around the real important issue of a Funding Formula.

You can talk till the cows come home about the symptoms but in the end, you have to diagnose and treat the core issue.

You folks are hard to impress, seems like nothing is good enough. Oh well the message will get out. And yes, if it were legal, I'd drop them outside the City a good distance outside. Or we can have the Hells Angels move into Charleswood, its your choice. For me, i have zero use for them and if i can disrupt this way, all the better.

on Term Limits. I said it would pass this term. I also said I believed in recall and plebiscites.

As for the Parkway, i said it will be built, sooner rather than later.

look buddy, if you are going to do a pay by play, get it right or don't attach my name to your post.

With respect , of course.


John Dobbin said...

Livio, most of your answers talked about the province and getting money from them. It is possible that might happen but this is solely at the discretion of the province. I don't believe I used the word fixated. I said you focused on it but that it is too narrow and well beyond the scope of a promise that can be guaranteed at the civic level.

The only discretion that city councillors have on taxes is on property. Anything else falls on lobbying elsewhere for money and a hope that it is permanent.

My first thought on driving someone out of town was the deaths of people on the "moonlight" tours who had their coats taken from them and died in the cold.

A Charleswood councillor has one vote on whether term limits will pass in the next four years. I have no idea how the other councillors whoever they are will vote.

Referendums are different from plebiscites. I was glad to hear of re-calls.

I'm not sure what is meant on the parkway. I said all candidates supported it.

I believe I was eminently fair in my personal observations on the candidate debate. I have stated a viewpoint and said that I am still undecided.

I see no reason for any upset and I have been completely open to you articulating your view.

It is my opinion that the best candidates learn through a campaign to take their policy platform and present it clearly and with detail. They show their vision of the future with a sound grasp on what is possible within the parameters of the job at hand.

There is one last major candidate debate coming. I am hoping to see some real spark and some ideas or a vision that really speaks to the community and the city.

I am doing my best to cover the election locally and offering any candidate the ability to answer in their own words why they should be elected. I will continue to do that.

I have not endorsed anyone to this point and I am still open to hearing people out. My thoughts thus far are mere observations as I reserve my final decision on my vote till I have heard as much as I can on the ideas of all people on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

JD, I am well aware what the City can and cannot do. Don't for a second think that the machine at City hall will stop functioning on a day to day basis based on who you pick.

Your choice is simple. Who is willing to fight for you at a level that brings back more for you in 4 years.

You miss the gist. You'd rather look at the symptoms. What I want to do is a call to action. mobilizing council and the Mayor to make a statement. Council is the body that we elect to fight for us. We are not managers, we hire staff for that. At some point it is Council that must elevate itself above traffic circles, bike paths, transit routes and debate the most important issue. Planning a City for the next 100 years and how best to achieve that so our departments are all on the same page with a clear understanding of what they are supposed to deliver.

The province can ignore anything it wants. And that is the problem. We have to sever their right to control Us and ignore us.

An election is coming and if we make the Statement and it is the only one, they will have to listen if they want to win the election.

Plebiscite /referenda, shades of grey. Either give the population a direct say on the matter. You got your answer.

Bad things happen all the time. I would prefer my City and my Police Chief put out a very strong message gang members can understand. Not sure they read the fancy reports on policy.

The way I see it is very simple. The Winnipeg Constitution will say gang members will not be tolerated and that they will be not allowed into the City.

Thats the will of the people. Of course no one has to accept this. But the important thing is that is what we want.

This puts the pressure on other level of governments to have to react.

Safe to say, whatever we have in place, isn't working well according to the general public.

Something about a canary in a coal mine. It doesn't have to say much for you to get the message something is wrong.

By the way, we aren't professional speakers. Steve did the best he could. he's a good man and tried his best to answer questions that in all fairness were smack of policy verbiage that had little to do with City service delivery. Same with Timothy. , with a time limit, you can't finish getting your point across and thats what you saw with Tim.

I don't know, its like people want instant media stars who have rehearsed their lines to the second. I can see why Clement was short with the "media" and didn't waste his time.

John Dobbin said...

Livio: City councils have been asking across Canada for more taxing authority and ability to control their destiny. The Constitution of Canada has been quite explicit that the municipalities are "creatures of the province."

To that end, the best way to change the taxing authority for cities would be to run as a provincial MLA since they, not city councillors will always have that power to slam the door. Only a constitutional amendment at the federal level will change that.

City councillors can only lobby for a different relationship. The province can say no.

And they have been saying that for many decades will little repercussion no matter how vocal the municipalities have been.

A referendum is usually a binding vote. A plebiscite is often used as a way of determining public opinion but can be ignored.

I have no problem with a strong crime response. However, driving people outside of town on moonlight tours has been done in the past. The results has been people dying.

I don't expect media stars of people running but I do expect an effort in focus and the ability to work within the parameters of a format. City Hall and the committee meetings will all have a format to operate within.

People will be assessing candidates to operate within that format. It won't matter how good a person is if they won't be able to get their thoughts across.

As for Bill Clement getting upset with the media: I found it no different than how Sam Katz gets upset when media ask for details on city contracts. As much as they don't like to be second guessed on these things, it is an important aspect of democracy that people can ask questions like that.

Too much happens behind closed doors at City Hall. Some elected people have gotten upset about been asked about the decisions they made.

We have paid a price in Winnipeg for the media not asking more impertinent questions.