As voters in Manitoba consider their options for the province’s October 4 election, law-and-order questions are bound to be prominent. Manitoba’s violent crime rate is the highest in Canada, and Winnipeg is sometimes slagged as “Murderpeg.” Statistics Canada reported recently that Manitoba once again led the country in homicides in 2010 — 3.6 for every 100,000 people in the province. Long-established native gangs like the Manitoba Warriors and Indian Posse have been joined more recently by bikers such as the rival Hells Angels and Rock Machine. And so the politicians inevitably wade in. Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen drew attention this week by saying high-risk sex offenders should have to wear GPS ankle bracelets when they get out of jail. Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard calls for another $1.2 million to be spent to reduce wait times for people seeking treatment for addictions, noting that research shows 70 per cent of violent criminals are substance abusers. And NDP Premier Greg Selinger promises “more police, faster prosecutions and tougher consequences,” although platform details have yet to be announced.Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill, rather than stressing a get-tough attitude, says much more should be done to give young people options to keep them off the streets.
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