August 24, 2017

Statement by Dougald Lamont, Contestant for Manitoba Liberal Leader.

Winnipeg, MBThe NDP’s double standard on Wab Kinew’s past, highlights what is wrong with Manitoba politics - but not for the reason you may think.

The NDP are telling Manitobans that Wab Kinew should be forgiven for his past transgressions because he has grown and changed, and has shown he is not the person he once was.

I believe that people can change. I believe in redemption and forgiveness, and that justice needs to be tempered with mercy and not just revenge.

Most important of all: I believe the law must apply equally to everyone.

The NDP is offering not one, but two double standards.

First, if Wab Kinew were running for leader of another party, many of the same people in the NDP who are defending him right now would be demanding he step down as a candidate or be fired.

The second double standard is much worse - it’s not about Wab Kinew’s "checkered past" with the justice system - but the NDP’s.

The reality is that from the day they were elected in 1999, the Manitoba NDP left existing PC policies on autopilot, and fully embraced failed U.S.-style policies that cost huge amounts of money and had little impact on crime.

For the size of our province, The Manitoba NDP has put more Indigenous people behind bars than any government in Canada. And no government in the western world has broken up more Indigenous families and taken away more children than the Manitoba NDP.

The NDP was always eager to shift the blame to the Federal Government - for everything - but their record is clear.

The NDP vocally supported Stephen Harper’s Conservative Omnibus Crime bill, which the Federal NDP opposed, and parts of which were overturned as unconstitutional.

In 2011, NDP Attorney General Andrew Swan rejected calls for a provincial inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

As NDP Attorney General Gord Mackintosh showed off property seized in “civil forfeiture” - which allows authorities to seized property even when people haven’t been proven guilty.

According to the Free Press, NDP MLAs who disagreed were muzzled. And if Steve Ashton had any objections, he continues to keep them to himself.

When people talk about the NDP’s “out-of-control” spending, two overlooked areas where spending really soared, were jails and CFS - which both doubled.

The Manitoba NDP spent $100-million on new jails, but not on affordable housing, addictions treatment, or mental health care.

The NDP would spend $315 to keep a child in CFS in a hotel for one night, but kept the social housing allowance for rent for one month frozen at $285 for over 20 years.

We talk about the terrible legacy of the Residential Schools. Today, it is jails and CFS that are perpetuating the legacies of broken families and dysfunction, because they target Indigenous people in ways that other communities do not face.

A February 18, 2016 Macleans’ magazine investigation into the treatment of Indigenous people by the justice system suggests they are more likely to face harsher treatment at every step - more likely to be stopped, arrested, charged, convicted, face longer sentences, more time in solitary confinement and longer waits for parole.

In jails and CFS alike, Indigenous people are detained out of proportion to their numbers - and in Manitoba, the NDPs policies are in part responsible.

This is a terrible violation of the fundamental principle of justice that everyone is equal before the law.

The NDP are willing to extend sympathy to Wab Kinew in a way they were never - even for a moment - willing to extend to others when they were in power.

The punishment has to fit the crime. We need strong and effective law enforcement. We need to punish people for wrongdoing, protect the public and assure citizens that justice is being done. No one disputes that.

Above all, we need to know the same laws apply to everyone. If they are going to demand mercy and sympathy for politicians, the powerful and well-connected, we have to demand it for all.

This is why Manitobans deserve a different option. That is why we are building a new Manitoba Liberal Party from the ground up that is credible, practical, and progressive - and committed to the principle of justice for all, not just a few.

This is #OurNewWay. Be a part of it.

- Dougald

Statement by Dougald Lamont, Contestant for Manitoba Liberal Leader
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