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Premier Brian Pallister calls for Manitoba to stop ‘phony excuses’ for liquor thieves’ behaviour

Premier Brian Pallister addresses the media.
Premier Brian Pallister addresses the media. Joe Scarpelli / Global News

An increase in violent crime, particularly at Manitoba Liquor Marts, has local leaders scrambling for answers, but premier Brian Pallister says he’s sick of excuses.

Pallister told media Thursday that the violent liquor store robberies are offensive to all law-abiding Manitobans.

“Ultimately, it’s just got to be absolutely clear to anyone out there that this kind of behaviour, individuals choosing to act like this, is totally unacceptable, and the full force of the law will be brought to bear on people engaged in this kind of behaviour,” he said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Liquor Mart to close after brutal assault of employees; ‘secure’ entrance to be built

“We have ways of finding you and we are going to find you, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law… so re-think your decision making.”

Pallister said people, in his view, are looking at the situation through a skewed lens, describing the perpetrators as victims.

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“We need to get away from that false, mistaken way of thinking,” he said. “I come from a poor background, but I didn’t choose to engage in criminal activity.

“Stop making the false assertion that people who have come from tough backgrounds – like many, many Manitobans who would never, ever hurt anyone else – that somehow some of those people have an excuse to beat up somebody else.

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“It’s just a phony excuse and we’ve got to start treating it like that.”

Some experts, however, say Pallister is missing the nuance in the situation.

Counselor Carolyn Klassen told 680 CJOB the issue is more complicated than a lot of people are making it out to be.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police union warns of legal actions, officer retirements after pension changes

All behaviour is a form of expression and I don’t want to justify or excuse the violence at all,” she said, “but I think if we just see them as monsters and dehumanize them, that can just perpetuate the problem.

“I think the challenge is what’s going on that puts people in a position that this seems to be the thing for them to do.

“This is not normal behaviour. This is not something people want to do. This is a product of what’s going on in their world, and we need to figure out how to make this a place where that’s not something that crosses people’s mind.”

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‘Good on him’: Winnipeg officer commends bystander who intervened to stop liquor store assault
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