Meet A Mayoral Candidate — XII

May 7, 2010

It’s Friday, folks. Surely you know what that means by now. Let’s get ready to M-m-m-m-meet A Mayoral Candidate!

This week, Baquie Ghazi!

“Whether we are believers of God or Nonbelievers – We all can be believers of Social Justice.”

So Mr. Ghazi wrote to us. A long time social activist, Mr. Ghazi has been involved with the struggles of new immigrants, housing, anti-poverty and the anti-war movement. He is running for mayor in the hopes of bringing change to the old traditional governance in the Toronto City Council.

His platform consists of what he calls “an effective Peoples Economic Stimulus Package.” It is a plan that would help 90% of the people who, in Mr. Ghazi’s opinion, have not benefited from the government stimulus money that has been spent to date. Items would include reducing property taxes “to accelerate economic growth and increase housing and small businesses.” He’d cut the cost of a monthly metro pass by more than half and allow seniors to ride the TTC for free along with increasing the numbers of electric buses and subways in use.

Like many of the candidates we have profiled in this space, Mr. Ghazi’s plans are long on worthy ideas and short of financial specifics. Mr. Ghazi would institute toll/congestion charges for non-Torontonians using the city’s roads but aside from that he seems to be relying on a lethal combination of “obtaining funds from the federal government to increase the prosperity of small businesses” and the dubious neoliberal claim of decreasing taxes to increase revenues. To our minds, that’s purely phantom economic planning. When was the last time a federal government expressed any interest in municipal matters?

As much of an advocate for increased use of public transit as Mr. Ghazi is, he has an immense dislike for the LRT aspect of Transit City, believing that with streetcars clogging the middle lanes, car idling times increase which causes more pollution. We’d like to see some evidence backing that claim up. Wouldn’t dedicated streetcar lanes help alleviate that problem? Sure, subways would be preferable, Mssrs. Ghazi, Ford, Rossi and Ms. Thomson but how do we pay for them? None of their numbers add up.

Baquie Ghazi

We’ll forgive Mr. Ghazi his fuzzy math, however, because at the core of his campaign is a passion for people especially those long marginalized by our political system. Mr. Ghazi would like to see the number of councillors increased to reflect our growing population. He’s in favour of a two consecutive term limit for both mayor and council, hoping in that way to help increase the diversity of our elected representation at the municipal level. He’d also pledge to introduce more transparency into the voting process at City Hall with the use of paper ballots, counted in public for each vote, increasing both accountability and citizen participation. We imagine with the work he has done on immigration issues, Mr. Ghazi would heartily endorse extending the franchise to all those possessing landed status.

When asked the question, If the current mayor wants his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, what would a Mayor Ghazi want his legacy to be?, he answered: The Mayor of Social Justice, the Environment Mayor, the People’s Mayor. A tall order, for sure, but utterly refreshing in its compassion and lack of cynicism. Something most of the frontrunners could learn a little about.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr