Mayoral candidates square off on how to make London safer for women and girls

Less than a week before this year’s local elections, four London mayoral candidates debated how to make the city safer for women and girls.

Sean O’Connell, Khalil Ramal, Sandie Thomas and Josh Morgan shared the stage at the Kenny Theater at King’s University College. They were each given two minutes to answer questions written with input from community members and advocates including Anova and the London Abused Women’s Centre.

The discussion began with the question of how best to use community resources.

Thomas pointed out that bus stops, public transport and taxis could be equipped with more lighting.

“If you have to leave work and take the bus and it’s dark, you’re scared,” she said.

Morgan responded that he would provide resources to police to fight sex trafficking and said he supported the London Police Service’s call for more funding.

Different perspectives on dealing with men and boys

The candidates then differed in their strategies for contacting men and boys.

Thomas suggested enabling women-led workshops to better educate men about the impact of their actions.

Ramal recommended workshops that introduced newcomers to Canadian culture and law.

“We brought people from different cultures to the city of London and every culture has a specific way of dealing with women,” he said.

The contestants are seated on the stage of the Kenny Theater at King’s University College. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

O’Connell said it is the mayor’s role to guide councils towards better solutions, but he needs to hear more feedback on the matter to better understand the issue first.

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think it’s complicated,” Morgan said. “It’s not about empathizing. It’s about reporting these acts when they happen… Men need to stand up and tell other men that the way they’re treating women is disgusting.”

Thomas later emphasized the importance of having readily available shelters for women fleeing domestic violence and inclusive programs for women in the BIPOC community.

O’Connell and Ramal said they would create affordable housing that would be accessible to women who had somewhere to go.

Thomas countered that the plan does not address the specific needs of women and children escaping abuse.

“You need to have these all-round services so that you can be viable, be good for your kids and be good for yourself, and build from there to be resilient,” she said. “When we build these programs and these homes, we have to make sure we have these full-services because we want to make sure our wives and our children are safe.”

Also running for mayor are Dan Lenart, Johanne Nichols, Norm Miles, Brandon Ellis, Jeffrey Daniel, and Carlos Murray.

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