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MAYOR KATZ GETS ENDORSEMENT OF POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS - RALLY

By Spencer Fernando, a subscriber to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, September 28, 2010

On Wednesday evening September 27th  a rally  was held for Mayor Sam Katz at the Caboto Centre on Wilkes Avenue.

Parked in front of the entrance to the Centre, conspicuous by it’s presence, was an old vintage red fire engine with a big sign that read “Firefighters for Sam”. Inside there were at least 200 people along with two dozen or so Firefighters wearing  “Firefighters for Sam” T-Shirts. As the Rally commenced, Paul Edwards the highly regarded former leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba gave a rousing speech endorsing Sam as the man who has a track record of getting things done at City Hall.  After Mr. Edwards introduction, the hall was  musically carried away by the Black Eyed Pea’s rallying cry song “Lets get it started” as the Mayor walked up to the podium amidst many cheers and adulation.

Once at  the podium the Mayor spoke in defense of his six year record , touching on issues like the decision he made to invest  43 Million Dollars, initially designated for what he describes as a “back room bus rapid transit deal” cut by predecessor Glen Murray in 2004, into much needed repairs and upgrades to community centres all over Winnipeg.

He also spoke about his preference for “Light Rail Transit” as opposed to “Bus Rapid Transit”. He argued that light rail is “permanent” whereas bus routes “can be moved”.  The permanence of rail encourages businesses to expand or establish themselves around permanent rail “hubs”.

He also  put forward his record of successfully lobbying directly with Ottawa to send the Federal gas tax back to Winnipeg.

Mayor Katz also passionately argued that business and economic development must be “at the heart of the community” and spoke of his record of reducing and eliminating business taxes for at least one-third of small businesses in Winnipeg.

He was critical of his major opponent  Judy Wasylycia-Leis for committing to increase property taxes by at least 2%  each year over the next five years. He  said  that property taxes are “the most regressive  kind of tax” and should only be increased as a “last resort”. Mayor Katz said his strong preference is to continue to lobby the Province for a much more lucrative share of the Provincial Sales tax. He points out that a 1% regressive property tax increase only brings in 4.2 million dollars whereas  one percent of the PST would bring in approximately $130 million dollars. Monies much needed to deal with the ubiquitous infra-structure problems that all Canadian cities “including Winnipeg” must face in the future.

On crime and safety, the Mayor has committed to 58 more police officers ,20 of which will be dedicated “full time” to tracking and monitoring gang activity. He contrasts this plan with Ms. Wasylycia-Leis plan of asking all civic employees to  “report crime when they see it”. Mayor Katz commented that he hopes that all citizens know to report crime when they see it.

The big surprise of the evening was that both Alex Forest (President of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg) and Mike Sutherland (President of the Winnipeg Police Association) both took to the  podium and gave their respective  organizations endorsements to the Mayor.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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