Young people who filled the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Thursday night, had mixed emotions toward the mayoral candidates participating in the Winnipeg Foundation Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.
Upcoming civic election mayoral hopefuls Brian Bowman, Michel Fillion, Paula Havixbeck, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, David Sanders, and Judy Wasylycia-Leis attended the forum hosted by The Winnipeg Foundation and Community News Commons.
Candidate Gord Steeves was absent.
Topics of the debate included poverty, safety, transportation, employment, and housing and homelessness, all main concerns that emerged in the Youth Vital Signs report.
Close to 1900 Winnipeg youth aged 14-29 participated in the Youth Vital Signs survey that graded 15 aspects of Winnipeg life. The result was a generally lukewarm consensus toward the city, and much improvement was voted as necessary.
When asked by a young woman in the audience how he would make the city streets safer for women, candidate David Sanders replied, “Bright lights, for a start.”
Sander’s comment prompted a slew of dissatisfied tweets with the hashtag #ccyvs on a projector screen behind the candidates on stage, including one from Rachel Carlson (@rcarlson137), “Sorry David Sanders, violence against women isn’t a joking matter and won’t be fixed with lighting #ccyvs”.
Alana Allinger, 27, was also unsatisfied with Sander’s reply.
“I think it really perpetuates a culture of victim-blaming,” the youth worker at Pathways to Education said, “he’s not really in touch with any other people other than who he identifies as, so I think that’s really problematic.”
Safety ranked 3rd of the 15 issues graded in Winnipeg in the Youth Vital Signs survey and public safety was listed as a top priority by youth.
The audience cheered loudly for drama near the end of the evening when Brian Bowman called out fellow candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis on her “old-school” and “tasteless” tactics of allegedly defaming his photo and platform.
Wasylycia-Leis said she’s not sure where this accusation comes from.
“This whole election campaign, our job is to put out our policies and to compare and contrast with the other candidates. [Bowman] has often described me in certain ways that I don’t always agree with or presented my proposals in less than accurate fashion, but that’s his prerogative and I wont criticize him for that.”
The forum was one of the last three for candidates before the civic election takes place on October 22.
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.