Q: Crime seems to be more of a concern in Flin Flon today than it was in years past. What would you do to reduce crime in Flin Flon and other communities in the constituency?
Clarence Pettersen, independent:
More of a police presence definitely is a plus. Having our RCMP officers walk around town, as I’ve seen them doing, is helpful and makes people feel safer.
This is the City of Flin Flon’s responsibility, as they dictate how many officers we have, and what we the taxpayers are willing to pay for.
Factually, we have the lowest crime out of the three main northern communities of The Pas, Thompson and Flin Flon. Most of the crimes are not serious, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of the problem.
Perhaps we need to increase the RCMP’s nighttime presence in our communities. We also have to make sure that people are taken care of so they don’t have to resort to theft to solve food shortages or lack of income. This is a social problem involving all levels of government, and not just a concern in our constituency.
The food bank has become a necessity for many more people, which makes me think that poverty is definitely an issue. This is important to me and I will be working on it as we move forward.
Tom Lindsey, NDP:
The NDP believe in investing in health, stronger, safer communities through programs that provide kids with positive role models and keep them busy and off the streets.
Our commitment to invest in education is a major component to this. More students are finishing high school than ever before and a re-elected NDP will keep investing in education to make schools safe places for kids to be mentored, graduate and move on to university or college.
Crime prevention is critical to crime reduction. The NDP believes in supporting programs that are targeted and work with high-risk youth to deal with issues of substance abuse and help them stay in school or find a job. The Conservatives oppose this approach, even though it provides swift consequences and helps at-risk youth get their lives back on track.
Another major plank of our crime-prevention strategy is ensuring there are good training opportunities and good jobs for all Manitobans. We have a plan to keep growing the economy, create jobs and ensure the training supports are in place so that all Manitobans, especially those most at risk, can pursue positive and healthy alternatives in their lives.
This is particularly important with our young people. We have created a number of programs, like After School Leaders, that provide skills and job training.
Our summer learning camps provide students across the province with quality learning opportunities at no charge and the NDP Lighthouse programs provide youth with fun, safe places to go at night and engage in healthy activities with their friends.
A re-elected NDP will work with Flin Flon to ensure the appropriate preventative programming is in place for the youth of Flin Flon.
Beyond prevention, we do understand that more direct intervention is sometimes required in order ensure our communities are safe. The NDP will continue to support appropriate policing resources and other alternatives like our new northern cadets program.
We will work with Flin Flon to ensure its policing model is diverse and efficient.
Angela Enright, PC Party:
It’s clear that old approaches to crime reduction aren’t working. After 17 years with the NDP, Manitoba has the highest youth crime severity index of any province, meaning the types of crimes committed by young Manitobans are more violent than any other province.
Manitoba also has the highest major assault rate of anywhere in Canada at almost double that of anyplace else in the country. And, for the eighth year straight, Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate in Canada last year.
We need a Manitoba that’s inclusive and provides opportunities for everyone to learn, advance and contribute. Reducing crime by providing opportunities for economic and social participation is a strategy that we know works because, when people feel marginalized they turn to criminal activities. When people feel they are full and active participants in Manitoba’s economy, they don’t turn to criminal behaviour.
We will improve educational outcomes by providing a way up for young Manitobans by focusing on literacy, math and science results. We will also provide increased supports for low-income Manitobans by reducing the taxes they pay, giving them increased financial breathing room and allowing them to keep more of their own money.
If we work in partnership there is nothing we can’t accomplish together, including getting a handle on crime impacting communities like Flin Flon.
Leslie Beck, Liberal Party:
I spent 25 years in law enforcement (21 in Flin Flon and the North) and based on my experience believe there is no simplistic answer to this question.
Police are only as effective at reducing crime as the community that supports them. Tax dollars are received from all levels of government for funding policing and unfortunately some communities’ capacity is beyond the resources of their police.
My model of crime reduction includes treating violence as a public health concern and putting together teams of resources that work together in real time. Police would continue to maintain their role as peace officers but would also have accompanying them on calls youth, and social/mental health, workers.
Working together these teams can put the programs in place to meet the needs of the community. This would work to limit the number of people incarcerated and bring tax dollars back to where it belongs: into intervention and prevention.
When addressing intervention it is important to target inequality, focus on crime hot spots, treat male and female violence as the same issue, intervene early and always look at the whole picture.
And when addressing prevention it is important to create well-targeted programs aimed at the primary and secondary education level, provide early family support, be proactive, always use non-violent language, understand that in today's world violence is going virtual and to find the balance between repression and prevention.
As a society we need to start being smarter about how tax dollars are allocated if we want to have a meaningful impact on preventing and reducing violence in our communities.