Can You Spare A Little Change?

September 30, 2014

As we kick off our flurry of city council candidate endorsements (challenger edition), I think it’s worth taking a moment to point out that, imperceptibledespite early campaign excitement about tipping over the apple cart and utterly rearranging the dynamic at City Hall, nothing of the sort is going to happen. One way or another, we’re going to have a new mayor. That much is true. But as for the rest of city council?

There are 7 open wards (including the sort of open Ward 2). If, say, 4 incumbents get defeated, that’ll mean 11 new faces on city council. A quarter change over. turnoverNot a sweep, for sure. Still, enough of a change to be either hopeful or hopelessly depressing. It’ll depend entirely on the direction of the changeover.

Here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, we’ve already endorsed 12 incumbents. In the week or so ahead, we’ll add 17 challenger endorsements. That’s nearly 2/3s of the 44 wards, leaving plenty of room for disappointment while still having a good working caucus.

What about the other 15 wards in the city? Those we can make really no informed endorsements in?steadyasshegoes

Well, here’s where I pretty much assume the status quo will hold.

In Scarborough, we’ll still have a majority rump of pro-subway representation. While there could be some change for the better in wards 42 and 44, there’ll be no increase in LRT love. Wards 37, 38, 40 and 41 will likely remain as is.

It should be steady as she goes throughout much of the rest of the city too. All the incumbents in wards 8, 10, 11, 15, 23, 25, 28 and 29 are good bets to return. For any who don’t, we probably won’t see too much of any sort of alignment.

While change gurgles on the surface throughout Etobicoke, we can only hope that in Ward 4, we don’t go from Gloria Lindsay Luby to worse Gloria Lindsay Luby. Yes, that can happen. I mean, Chris Stockwell is running out there, people! (Although, you can’t find much evidence of his campaign.) Pretty much the frontrunners are all auto-centric, low tax fighters. So, you know. Typical Etobicoke representation.rollingrock

Despite the obvious need for dramatic change, given the last noisy, nasty, fractious, intransigence years, change tends to happen incrementally. Aim high, be prepared for nowhere near that. Even just a tilt ever so slightly one way or another can provide the change necessary, though. Remember. The last bid to halt the crazy march to the Scarborough subway lost by just 4 votes. 4 votes. 4 councillors. 4 wards of 44. That’s doable. That’s not insurmountable.

Sometimes positive change can come in small packages.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr

Our Mystery Mayor

September 29, 2014

At a party Saturday night, municipal politics was very much a front and centre topic of conversation. cocktailpartyPerhaps my sample group skews that way, biased because of what I do on a daily basis. Hey! So what do you think about the election? Do you think candidate X is going to win?

Or maybe I’m just a single-minded social bully, forcing my conversation on anyone I can trap in the corner of a room. That’s some election going on, eh? You know what I think? Here’s what I think…

Four separate conversations I had during the evening — count `em, 4 – revolved around the strategic, fearful vote for John Tory in order to prevent Doug Ford from winning. There was no passion for the candidate. No seeming attachment to him except for the perception that only he could ensure that no Ford would be mayor come October 27th.

“What if I told you there was no way Doug Ford was going to win this election?” I push-polled them. cornered“Any way you slice it, his numbers just don’t add up. You can vote how you want. It doesn’t have to strategic.”

To a person, John Tory was an anti-Ford weapon of choice. Nothing more. A firm belief that nothing, not even John Tory, would be as bad as Ford More Years.

Such a sentiment is hardly surprising. That’s been the Tory tactic all along. He, and only He, can keep the Fords at bay.

The fact that no one I spoke to on Saturday night could articulate any reason to vote for John Tory aside from that speaks volumes to the blind path were heading down currently. When we should be asking what values a candidate represents, whose voices they are seeking to empower at City Hall, we’re only focussed on ridding the mayor’s office of our Ford shame. What comes after? Doesn’t matter. There’s only one battle to win right now.

John Tory. Because, It Could Be Worse.

But with exactly four weeks to election day, with the inevitability of a Mayor John Tory staring us hard and cold in our face, shouldn’t we be asking deeper questions of the candidate? What are his core values? (Why does he want to be mayor?) scareWhose interests is he running to represent?

We get Doug.

Like his brother before him, it’s all about the ‘little guy’ and ‘the hardworking taxpayer’. The angry. The disaffected. The disenfranchised. Those who see City Hall as the enemy, the source of the city’s dysfunction. The disillusioned and the delusional.

Those refusing to see that at every opportunity, Doug and Rob vote against their interests. Vote to cut taxes. Vote to cut services. Stoke divisiveness and promote resentment.

Many things can and have been said about this base, Ford Nation. But whatever it is, whatever you may think about it, it isn’t imaginary. It’s real, made up of real people.

Who does John Tory speak for?

Never forget that John Tory was an ardent supporter of Rob and Doug Ford in their respective runs for mayor and city council in 2010. So much so, he donated to both their campaigns. In his role as radio talk show host, Tory continued his vocal support of the mayor during the first couple, tumultuous years of his administration. toryandthefordsUntil the crack scandal broke, there was little daylight between the politics the Fords and Tory espoused.

So what does that say about the kind of mayor John Tory will be? Who will he advocate for? If John Tory becomes mayor who do you think will have a seat at the table of power?

As limp and as lifeless as Olivia Chow’s campaign has been at times (and do not get me started on the just completed Toronto Arts Vote debate stunt), it’s clear about what her priorities are. A push for increased bus service because a solid majority of transit users, especially in the city’s inner suburbs, depend on buses to get around. After-school recreation and nutritional programs for children, more affordable housing because the city is facing an unconscionable rise in childhood poverty. The disaffected. The disenfranchised. The voiceless.

Disagree with her all you want. Take issue with her policy ideas and platform. Same for Doug Ford. Chop his candidacy to bits. hollowman1But at least with both of them, we know where they stand.

Can you truly say that about John Tory?

What does he stand for? Who’s he going to represent as mayor? What is the one word defining principle of a John Tory administration?

What does a Mayor John Tory’s Toronto look like?

Those might be the type of answers we should be looking for over the course of the next month instead of all needlessly fear rushing to a candidate who, so far, steadfastly refuses to respond to those questions.

questioningly submitted by Cityslikr

Challengers To Watch XVIII

September 26, 2014

There’s something of an opportunity brewing in Etobicoke this municipal election where 4 of its 6 city council seats are incumbent free. (More or less.) opportunityAn opportunity for new voices, new ideas. An opportunity for a new dialogue that’s refreshingly free of much pre-amalgamation baggage.

Alas, aside from the Ford factor freakiness in Ward 2 Etobicoke North, news from these parts has been scarce. Unsurprising in many ways, since most council races don’t get a whole lot of attention, especially when the mayoral campaign proves as preposterously outlandish as this one is. Open council races prove to be even more wobbly as there isn’t the touchstone of incumbency to measure them from.

Which may partly explain how candidacies like Raymond Desilets in Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore have slipped under the radar so far. Take a look at the campaign website and tell me you’ve seen many others (including some of those running for mayor) this detailed, thorough and thought out. Places To Grow. Queensway Revitalization. Streetcar Expressway! (Yes, really.) Townhalls. Development Permit System…

Search hard and try to find a platitude or any demagogic populism. This is intelligent discourse for an engaged citizenry. In a roster of Ward 5 candidates chock full of your run-of-the-mill anti-tax rhetoric, Desilets boldly writes: Property Taxes – I’m Not Complaining.ideas

Perhaps it’s the mark of a rookie politician. Hardly surprising as this is 25 year resident of Ward 5’s first foray into politics. What he lacked in experience, he decided to make up for in research, knowledge and diligence.

When Desilets mused about running for council back last Christmas, friends and family asked him why, what exactly he would be running for. Not having a satisfactory answer but armed with a background in urban planning and architecture studies, he spent the next 4 months on a crash course in the history and governance of Toronto and the GTA. Done, Desilets put together an hour presentation for about 35 people in his own mini-Townhall meeting, laying out the reasons why he wanted to run for city council and the platform he’d run on.

The reception was positive and here he is, now running for Ward 5.

I asked how his ideas were playing beyond that initial group with voters as he knocked on their doors. There’s been very little pushback, he told me. ward5Generally speaking people have been surprised, pleasantly so, to hear the ideas Desilets talks about being possible.

This goes to the wider observation I’ve been hearing from candidates running for council in the former inner suburban municipalities. A lack of community and neighbourhood engagement between voters and those they elect to represent them at City Hall. Low-tax and anti-growth sensibilities, telling voters that there’s nothing but out of control spending, corruption and downtown-centricity. No good can come from it. So… vote for more of the same. Rinse and repeat.

Desilets wants to change that approach.

Much of that can come from how growth and densification is handled, he feels. He encourages it but feels, to date, and especially in places like Ward 5, the city’s shown a knack for building ‘condo deserts’ but not communities. We have to do better ‘developing our neighbourhoods’. islingtonbloorThat means including more affordable housing, more mixed use development where people can shop, drink and dine, work locally. Create ‘urban space’ and not just park space.

“Intensify for us,” Desilets tells me.

He also advocates for more local solutions to our transit woes, ideas that are quick to implement. His streetcar express, for one. Never mind the subway/LRT debate. Lay down streetcar tracks now!

Look, I’m not sure if Raymond Desilets ideas are all doable. The thing is, he’s got ideas, positive, community building ideas and he’s willing to talk about them, to engage with people with the goal of creating more liveable and equitable places to live and work. Look at two of his more high-profile opponents in Ward 5. Justin Di Ciano, came within a hundred votes or so of ousting the then incumbent councillor, Peter Milczyn, in 2010. Fast-forward 4 years and he’s still filling out his website. Kinga Surma, former Milczyn assistant until she went to work for his opponent, Doug Holyday, in last year’s by-election, is talking even less about her plans as city councillor.turnthepage1

Obviously, no one ward of 44 in this city will change the course of history here in Toronto. But there’s a real prospect of changing how we talk about this city, how we approach governance in a more inclusive and constructive way. “Let’s take advantage of that,” as Raymond Desilets says. If Etobicoke begins sending the likes of Raymond Desilets to City Hall, that would be a huge, great step in the right direction.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr

Indifference By The Dozen

September 25, 2014

I’m feeling my coverage of incumbents seeking re-election is incomplete. There’s my 12 Must Haves and my 13 Need To Gos, leaving the 12 remainders in some sort of shadowy, no-man’s-land. indifferent2Hey, All Fired Up in the Big Smoke! You love these ones and hate those ones. What about these ones?

Ok. This is our Group M’eh. We’re largely indifferent, neither here nor there, but it could be worse. Maybe.

Some of these 12 probably would’ve been given thumbs up if it weren’t for their support for the Scarborough subway. Councillors like Anthony Perruzza Ward 8 York West, Michael Thompson Ward 37 Scarborough Centre and Chin Lee Ward 41 Scarborough Rough River. Hell, for his Deputy Mayor work alone, Norm Kelly Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt should be acknowledged because, lord knows, as a councillor he was eminently forgettable although, watching Kelly in action and it’s not difficult to get a sense of how exactly John Tory would go about conducting business at City Hall if elected.

A group shrug with the one caveat. indifferent1It could be worse.

Councillor Jaye Robinson Ward 25 Don Valley West showed up to defend proper development on the waterfront (except for her apparent openness on island airport expansion) and was quick to call the mayor out on his bad behaviour but her antagonism toward the city’s Ombudsman was more than a little unsettling. It was difficult to get a read on her. Such opaqueness left us cold.

Again though, it could be worse.

For all the work Councillor Ana Bailão Ward 18 Davenport did in helping save the TCHC from the mayor’s ill-intention came undone in her support of the Scarborough subway. That’s not entirely true. Councillor Bailáo was regularly all over the map, a slippery entity with little rhyme or reason about where she stood on issues.

Unlike the above group of councillors, there is no It Could Be Worse asterisk for Councillor Bailão. indifferent3She is being challenged by a very interesting candidate in Alex Mazer, so there’s no need for voters in Ward 18 to fearfully embrace the status quo.

The same thing could be said in Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth. I’ve got no particular beef with Councillor Paula Fletcher nor am I giddy at the prospect of her re-election. There’s simply a better candidate in Jane Farrow running against her.

Councillors John Filion Ward 23 Willowdale, Pam McConnell Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale, Mary Fragedakis Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth and Raymond Cho Ward 42 Scarborough-Rough River, all made little impression during this past term unless you count football pools with the mayor, getting run over by the mayor or running for your 3rd party in a non-municipal election as making an impression. indifferent4Indifference describes my attitude toward their respective candidacies. But it could be worse.

That leaves Councillor Josh Colle Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence. This one, this one gets our Biggest Enigma Award of the term. He was the face of the 2012 budget pushback that began the mayor’s slow, train wreck slide toward irrelevancy. Yet he stood and gave perhaps the most cynical speech I have ever witnessed when he spoke out against transit funding revenue tools. He voted in favour of the Scarborough subway. In fact, his percentage alignment with the mayor’s voting pattern at City Hall hasn’t varied all that much over the course of the past 4 years, in the low 40s from 2010 to 2014.

Councillor Colle is smart but I don’t have the slightest idea what he stands for. With a better, more constructive administration at City Hall, would he be a better, more constructive councillor? indifferentI can’t honestly answer that question. Councillor Colle hasn’t earned that kind of benefit of the doubt.

But again, it could be worse.

12 councillors, 12 various reasons for, yeah, well, whatever. Their re-elections wouldn’t necessarily damage the city but it’s hard to see how it would make much positive difference either. Do with that information what you will.

shruggingly submitted by Cityslikr

The Tory In Us

September 24, 2014

I arrived back home last night after just over a week away prepping some soul-searching about the expected mayoralty of John Tory. jetlaggedThe late night snapshots I’d picked up out on the road pointed to not only a victory for Tory in next month’s municipal campaign but, if his numbers held up, a kick-ass win. What did that very real possibility tell us about the mindset of voters in this city?

Of course, I dropped back in right in the middle of the York South-Weston debate that featured the debut of candidate Doug Ford for Mayor. While a campaign of this duration will hardly turn on one debate, Tory’s wobbly performance should probably set of some minor alarm bells in his camp, given his historical electoral inability to close the deal. underattackBeing the clear frontrunner now, the presumptive favourite, Tory will be the main object of attack and, with whatever remains of the Ford machine lurching back up onto its hind legs, and with absolutely nothing to lose at this point, the attacks will be vicious, mindless and unrelenting.

That could play into Tory’s favour, serving as a useful bogeyman to scare more voters his way. Do you really want this guy running the city? You think Rob was bad? Come in under the big Tory tent for a warm, protective hug.

Which brings me back (conveniently) to my original intent.

In post-Ford Toronto, why is it to John Tory a plurality of voters are turning?

“A safe set of steady hands.” No wait. “A safe, steady set of hands.” No. “A safe set of steady hands.” Hmm. “A safe, stead set of hands”? Nick! Run that by a focus group, would you? See what people prefer, what’s the easiest way to say that.

yodaJohn Tory wants to be the next mayor of Toronto but can’t really tell us why. His whole approach to date has been to generally riff on the theme, he’s not that guy or that guy or that NDP candidate. Toronto wants John Tory because it doesn’t want either of the Fords or Olivia Chow.negativespace

It’s a campaign of negative space. John Tory is the least worst, basically. Rally round, troops! Together we will… hunker down and hope the storm passes without leaving too much damage behind. Hunker down, troops.

Not that he’s alone in failing to fill the electorate with hope and create a wave of forward-thinking can-doism. That ‘vision thing’, as another largely negligible politician sniffed at back in the day. The amazingly disheartening thing about the 2014 mayoral campaign is just how lackadaisical in public spirit it’s been. emptypromiseIf nothing else, the mugging the city has been subjected to over the past 4 years exposed many of its weaknesses, and not just the obvious infrastructure fault lines but how it’s failing too many of the people living here.

Yet, here we are, haggling over keeping to the rate of inflation with tax increases or still talking about finding efficiencies. We continue to talk the Ford talk despite the fact that with every passing day such blather gets exposed as pure fantasy and unfiltered bullshit. Clearly, John Tory doesn’t think so. The messenger’s the problem not the message.

And collectively we seem to want to believe that. That all the city’s problems and needs can be wished away and dealt with by somebody else or with fanciful plans on a map that won’t somehow cost any of us a cent. Pander to us, John Tory. Tell us what we want to hear. Fill our minds with delusion. The same trite shit we bought into 4 years ago.

Having surfed that nonsense into a firmly established lead with more than a month to go now, duckandcover2we should expect the Tory Turtle. Duck and cover. Make no mistakes. Engage only as needed in order to keep up appearances. John Tory has told us as much as he’s going to (or as little as he’s had to) about how he will serve this city as mayor.

We seem just fine with that. John Tory has more than met our lowered expectations. So we can now just get on with ignoring the problems at hand.

grumpily submitted by Cityslikr

The Dirty (Baker’s) Dozen

September 19, 2014

throwoutthetrashOn Monday we typed out a hearty endorsement of twelve incumbent city councilors seeking re-election next month. The nice-to-haves, let’s call them. So how about we bookend the work week with a screaming indictment of a dozen (+1) incumbents who contributed nothing to the well-being of the city and the residents they were elected to serve? I dub these, the need-to-gos. City Hall would be a much better place without them.

From worst to only marginally less worse.

1) Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7 York West)

Two words: Police Investigation. What can you say about a politician who allegedly accepted $80K as some sort of gift while serving in office? And it seems like he can’t understand how anyone thinks he did anything wrong! Add to that his noisy divisiveness and boisterous, braying demeanour whenever there’s a camera or microphone nearby, Councillor Mammoliti needs to be shown the door. A resounding ‘no’ in answer to the question: Could [fill in a candidate’s name here] be any worse?boo1

2) Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11 York South-Weston)

The soundtrack to the Ford administration. Councillor Nunziata succeeded in dragging the position of city council Speaker to the dreary depths of partisanship, procedural disregard and ear-piercing combativeness. She wasn’t a moderator. She was a cheerleader. Her plaintive and repetitive beef about her ward never getting nothing from the rest of the city belies the fact she has represented that ward in some manner or fashion for about three decades now. Ward 11 residents should take a long look in the mirror and reflect upon why that may be.

3) Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East)

I will give the councilor this much. He adhered closely to the few principles he has when he voted against the Scarborough subway and a casino. The latter had something to do with his religious faith. The former underlined the fact there wasn’t a tax Councillor Minnan-Wong didn’t hate, an investment in the public realm that couldn’t be cheaper. thumbsdown2While he may think of himself as the fiscal conscience of city council, he’s actually the spirt of miserliness, determined to shrink the city into helpless submission. His is a pre-amalgamation mindset, one we have to rid ourselves of if we actually are interested in building a cohesive, inclusive city.

4) Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24 Willowdale)

Councillor Shiner would probably rank as a true leader of civic destructiveness if he actually gave a shit anymore. He’s harmful enough as it is and he’s now just going through the motions. Nothing signals that more than his successful non-attempt to ban the selling of plastic bags in the city during the nickel tax debate. He just threw the item up for a disruptive laugh, with little debate, no city staff input or review, only to be caught off-guard when it actually passed. He’s another one from the ancien regime of Mel Lastman with little raison d’etre for serving on city council anymore.

5) Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest)

In a close race, Councillor Berardinetti wins the worst rookie councillor award. It was better being an elephant in this city during her first term in office than say, a cyclist or public transit user. sweepoutThere didn’t seem to be a bike lane she wasn’t happy to tear up or a Scarborough subway plan she didn’t embrace lovingly. The fact that she became one of the most outspoken supporters for the subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line speaks volumes to the dubious nature of the project. Gender (or location) alone didn’t earn her a spot on Rob Ford’s first Executive Committee. She was a true believer, changing courses only when it became politically expedient to do so.

6) Councillor Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1 Etobicoke North)

Owing his very presence on city council to Rob Ford, Councillor Crisanti proved to be nothing if not loyal. Literally. He was nothing but loyal to the mayor, right to the bitter end, voting against any sort of sanctions against the mayor even after the crack scandal broke wide. Aside from that, I can’t come up with one thing the councillor championed during his first term, few he even bothered to express an opinion on. He did excel in asking confusing questions to both staff and his council colleagues during city council meetings. So I wouldn’t go as far as to call him a complete and utter non-entity. Just a simple non-entity will suffice.

7) Councillor Ron Moeser (Ward 44 Scarborough East)

He came into last term ailing, missing many, many important meetings and decisions during the first 18 months. While his attendance and health appeared to pick up over the last couple years, I don’t think it unfair to make it an issue during this campaign. thumbsdownEven when he returned to work, there were times Councillor Moeser didn’t appear to be on top of the proceedings especially during the last budget deliberations after he was made a late addition to the committee. His most memorable moment over the last 4 years? Railing against ice cream trucks during the food truck debate.

8) Councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17 Davenport)

While the councillor wasn’t elected to office on Rob Ford’s coat tails, you certainly wouldn’t know that by how he conducted his council business. A Ford loyalist and then some, he even took to flashing his thumb in support of the Ford agenda during votes after Giorgio Mammoliti thought better of such public displays of affection toward the mayor. Councillor Palacio seemed to take great delight in railing against the St. Clair disaster despite the fact it painted a bleak picture of his own ward. Ward 17 residents have every reason to wonder exactly whose interests their councillor put first, theirs or the mayor’s.

9) Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest)

Not a word of a lie, even now, nearly 4 years on, whenever Councillor Crawford got up to speak at council, I’d be surprised. My immediate thought was, who is that guy? throwoutthetrash1The quietest member of city council, he let his actions speak louder than his words, his major accomplishments being, painting a portrait of Mayor Ford and drumming for the band that played at a few of the mayor’s Ford Fests. After that, he silently supported the mayor’s agenda, rarely getting up to explain why. A loyal button pusher until it became problematic to do so, Gary Crawford is a city councillor without distinction.

10) Councillor Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12 York South-Weston)

Amiable enough, the Team Ford 2nd budget chief, Councillor Di Giorgio came across as overwhelmed by all the big numbers. Actually, given his lengthy time in office, he seemed surprisingly overwhelmed by most aspects of the job. He regularly stood up in city council meetings to ask some of the most stupefyingly obtuse questions, to state the most stupefyingly obstuse points, you had to wonder some days how he was even able to find his way to City Hall. When people point to the low quality of local representation as the reason not to give municipalities more control over their future, they will end up pointing to the likes Councillor Frankd Di Giorgio as proof of their argument.

11) Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre)

I’ve conversed briefly with Councillor Pasternak. Councillor Pasternak seems to be a genuinely nice person. booHowever, I still think Councillor Pasternak shouldn’t be a city councillor. His subway obsession in the form of the mystical North York Relief line and the burr he developed up his ass toward the Ombudsman combined to make for a petulant, pandering politician. The fact that he rose to the ranks of both Executive and Budget Committee member speaks more to the emptiness of the Ford Administration than it does to his talents as a city councillor.

12) Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore)

If anyone knows why it is Councillor Grimes got into politics in the first place, why he continues to seek re-election, maybe they can give us a hint. He doesn’t seem to much like his job, reluctantly participating in city council meetings. I think his main contribution this term was to try and limit the amount of time councilors got to speak during meetings. He gives off an annoyed, can-we-move-this-thing-along vibe regularly, as if he has more important things to do with his time than be, you know, a city councillor. The Midnight Mayor nickname Rob Ford bestowed upon him should ultimately mean nothing more than nobody really sees much of Councillor Grimes. That’s how much of a non-factor he ultimately is.

13) Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre)thumbsdown1

We include this bonus track because nobody so cravenly enabled the push for the Scarborough subway at the city level more than Councillor De Baeremaeker. A largely unremarkable councillor with a penchant for bringing props to council meetings, he displayed a serious lack of political judgment when did he did his 180 from LRT to subway in a matter of months for no other apparent reason than out of pure fear of Ford Nation electoral retribution. Turns out, there is no such thing as Ford Nation and now we’re stuck with an unnecessary subway extension. This Glenn De Baeremaeker is what gives politicians a bad name and supplies political haters with all the ammunition they need.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr

Challengers To Watch XVII

September 18, 2014

(We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have been friends with Ward 1 Etobicoke North’s city council candidate, Idil Burale, for a few years now. In fact, we’ve put in some time working on her campaign. So, there’s some question of objectivity when it comes to writing up her profile. Luckily, Ms. Burale has more than her share of fans excited about her candidacy. One, Samuel Getachew, a Toronto based community journalist and political activist, busily preparing his Canadian Perspective site, wrote an article about her a while back and was generous to let us share it with us.)

*  *  *

Unlocking City Hall’s potential: a new voice for Etobicoke North

In a room full of distinguished citizens – Former Prime Minister John Turner, Conservative strategist Jamie Watt, former Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz – at Royal York Hotel last year, the only person I wanted to have a conversation was with Idil Bruale.

The only subject I wanted to discuss with her was about her potential candidacy for municipal office in 2014. I had heard a rumour she might be a candidate and I was excited. However, she told me she would not be a candidate and I was disappointed.

How could I not be?

Burale is an eloquent, smart and ambitious young person that would bring much substance and initiative to our local government. I have enjoyed her thoughtful insights over the years on outlets such as TVO’s The Agenda and CBC radio and she is exactly the kind of person one should encourage to be active in electoral politics.

In the tradition that mere months in politics is a life time, the 28-year-old has recently announced that she would indeed be a candidate in 2014. She is running in Etobicoke North‏’s Ward 1 against Councillor Vincent Crisanti, a loyalist and mouth piece to Mayor Rob Ford. I am glad she is running and is giving her neighbours a better destination to support.

Beyond her youthful lofty ideal and objectives in social justice issues, Burale knows the potential and limitation of governments as she has been mentored and employed by noted area politicians such as MPP’S Mike Colle and Glen Murray. She understands retail politics as much as the responsibilities of governments.

What makes the young dynamo even more attractive is her civic participation.

For instance, she has made a great impression with the Rexdale Priority Neighbourhood Youth Solutions Group, organizing an event called Youth Solutions, in search of practical solutions to discuss important policy issues that affect youth disproportionally such as unemployment, policing, and a culture of low expectations at schools. For her, as she reflected with Inside Toronto, “the youth wants to be able to contribute to help find solutions for the neighborhood from everything such as employment to safety.”

She is also a member of Toronto District School Board’s task force for the success of Somali Canadian students in addressing a depressingly high level of drop outs. At the Toronto Police Service Board, she was a member of Community Safety Task Force that just concluded its work and produced an important policy report.

At the Toronto Police Service Board, she is a member of a task force on community safety and she also sits on an external advisory committee comprised of community members who are to assist in implementation of 31 recommendations. She also served with PACER, an internal Toronto Police Services initiative, of which she is accepted a three year membership of the external advisory committee helping the force in the implementation of 31 recommendations.

She is a founding member of Positive Change TO, Women in Toronto Politics, Academy of the Impossible and the Policing Literacy Initiative – an idea of the inspiring Jamil Jivani, a recent Yale Law School graduate. According to Jivani, an inspiring and engaged citizen himself, it’s to being “20 young leaders bringing new ideas and diverse perspectives to improve police services and community safety in Toronto and abroad”.

The ever busy Burale is currently pursuing an innovation leadership fellowship at MaRS Discovery District on systems change called Studio Y.

She was honoured by Samara in its 2013 Everyday Political Citizen (previously called Canada25) contest as its runner up candidate. Her nominator, University of Toronto’s Rima Berns-McGown, described her as “thoughtful, wise, diplomatic, perspicacious, funny, passionate; a community leader who understands the issues and who never puts her own interests before those of the people she serves; someone who cares about Toronto as a city and Canada as a country; and someone who is self-effacing and kind”.

She added – “If every political leader were like Idil, what an amazing city, province, and country this would be. I nominate her for Etobicoke North. I would vote for her anywhere”.

Indeed. Add me to the long list of admirers of such a special citizen in Idil Bruale.

submitted by Samuel Getachew