Winnipeg's reputation for crime is so bad that Judy Wasylycia-Leis' own mother in Montreal shudders at the thought her daughter is running for mayor here.
Last week Wasylycia-Leis used two radio interviews to audition her election campaign themes and crime was one of them.
More community centres is her solution. With more paid staff and higher taxes to pay for it.
Wasylycia-Leis knows she's vulnerable on the crime file, given her track record in watering down crime bills and supporting criminal youth over citizens in the 14 years she sat as an NDP member of Parliament. So she's working on revamping her image, from enabler to saviour of the run-down neighbourhood rec centre.
But more about that later.
CJOB's Richard Cloutier showed he's a reader of The Black Rod when he asked Candidate Judy on June 21st to cite some jobs she's had that haven't been tied to politics and which qualify her for the job of mayor.
We've pointed out that Wasylycia-Leis HAS NEVER HAD A REAL JOB IN HER LIFE. From the day she left university to the day she left Parliament Hill she's worked for the NDP in some capacity, where she was told the Party line on what to say, how to act, and what to think.
She obviously prepared for this question, as she didn't hestitate to answer Cloutier.
She had worked, she said, "beerslinging at a local pub when I was going to university." And she had been a waitress in a lodge "to put myself through university." Oh, and she worked "as a restaurant assistant", whatever that is.
In other words, FORTY YEARS AGO, Judy Wasylycia-Leis had a summer job. "So I've experienced real life," she told CJOB. Uh huh.
Cloutier asked her about property taxes. Raise 'em or stick to zero change?
She dodged this way and that and threw up carefully worded answers to say "Yes, of course I intend to raise taxes. Are you deaf ? " without saying it in so many words.
"I will strive for responsible management of our taxes to ensure the revenues we've got will meet the needs of today," said the self-appointed Champion of Transparency. She will, she said, be "trying to ensure we hold the line over the term."
And how does she intend to do that? She told Marty Gold of Kick-FM's The Great Canadian Talk Show on June 23rd.
She will start by waiving the $7 million to $9 million in lieu of taxes we should be getting from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Yes, nothing says funding the future better than waiving taxes on the pet projects of millionaires. Unless it's refusing to collect taxes from a close personal friend of a former NDP premier.
What's the museum's share of city property taxes? About equal to a two percent rise in taxes. So Judy Wasylycia-Leis is willing to pass on all that revenue and make it up from seniors and low-income home-owners.
See what you learn as a "restaurant assistant".
Candidate Judy tried pitching the social work approach to crime to Marty Gold, but he only bought a pinch because he had done his homework.
NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis was in Parliament when the Liberals, with the support of the NDP, passed the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2002. She was there when NDP Justice Critic Joe Comartin boasted to the press that the NDP deserved the credit for keeping the principles of deterrrence and denunciation out of the sentencing provisions in the Act, to weaken the ability of judges to keep juvenile criminals in custody.
Miss Transparency tried to deflect the questions by pretending he was asking about amendments to the YCJA. But eventually she had to run for the hills.
"My memory's not always perfect," she said. She had to do some research about "what we said, what I said." She would come back at some future date with a refreshed memory, she promised. We can hardly wait.
On other issues, Wasylycia-Leis showed she's not ready for primetime.
* Downtown renewal. She's for it. But she can't figure out what all those different organizations do. They should all be lumped into one, with a plan. And timelines. And goals.
* Rapid Transit. Yes. Spend. Spend. Spend. Just don't ask the Aspers to pay.
* A police helicopter? Veolia? Neither for or against. But the process for approving both was bad.
Process, there's a vote-getter.
* She rightly mocked incumbent mayor Sam Katz for his declaration four years ago of "war on mosquitoes", only to do nothing over his term and then announce this election year yet another study of the city's mosquito fighting policy.
But she, herself, acknowledged she has no position on aerial spraying, malathion, or buffer zones.
How could that be? She's lived in Winnipeg most of her life. How can anyone who lives here not have an opinion on mosquitoes?
Does the fact she's spent Monday to Friday in Ottawa for the past 13 years, with weekends at her cottage, mean she's just a tourist in her hometown?