Opinion Editorial

Police chopper plan doesn't fly in rural areas

For many the PC party in Manitoba is synonymous with rural values. They are often assumed to be sticking up for us rural folk while the NDP worry only about the north and the City of Winnipeg.

Part of that is because the PC party has strength in rural areas and are admittedly more tapped into rural issues. Then again, when one looks at the NDP track record, that really doesn't say much. The PC Party has a dilemma. They can't win elections with rural Manitoba alone. They need to make inroads in the City of Winnipeg. To do that they have finally hit on an issue they think will earn votes. It's too bad they are turning their backs on rural Manitoba when they do it.

Justice critic Kelvin Goertzen is calling on the NDP to deliver on their promise get the funding in place for the City of Winnipeg's new police helicopter.

Mayor Sam Katz has said they will pay the $2 to $3 million for the new helicopter if the province will pick up the annual bills associated with it. Those are expected to add up to $1 million.

Facing a huge deficit the NDP have understandably become slow to step up to the plate on this wish list item.

And it's odd and little concerning that the PC party would want to reach into taxpayers pockets for this.

Even Goertzen's reasons as printed in a Feb. 12 press release don't make sense.

Reason #1: "Selinger has no problem finding $640 million to put the new hydro line on the wrong side of the province, but he can't find the money to get the helicopter in the air?" Even Goertzen must realize that pointing to one example of over spending does not justify a different case of over spending.

Reason #2: "Winnipeggers are tired of being the murder capital of Canada." From all research so far, it seems the helicopter will be invaluable in things like car chases. Preventing murder is not something within its capabilities.

Reason #3: Gang activity and violence are a year round problem in Winnipeg but it always escalates when the weather warms. The helicopter needs to be ready to go to work by summer. Rushing a million dollar commitment does not make for smart decision making, no matter how valid the expense may be.

Reason #4: Selinger promised. You know what? On this one Goertzen is right. We should always hold government to their promises. That's why MTS is still publicly owned. Oh right.... it isn't.

The helicopter is not a rural priority. It may be a good idea for Winnipeg but they need to pay for it.

-Greg Vandermeulen