If You’re Not Even Going To Try…

Friends, living in Ward 11 York South-Weston, asked the other day what on earth they should do when it comes to voting for their local councillor. decisionsdecisions1As many of you probably know, Ward 11 is the domain of long time city councillor, Frances Nunziata. Frances Nunziata is easily one of the 5 worst city councillors at City Hall. She’s been ill-representing residents of the area for over a quarter of a century.

You might think with such an abysmal record and tradition, there’d be a long list of challengers out there, knocking on doors, talking to residents in the hopes of defeating Ms. Nunziata. You might think. But my friends’ dilemma was real. There is no viable candidate running to unseat her in Ward 11 York South-Weston. I checked. I watched.

Voting against Frances Nunziata in 2014 essentially comes down to, Well, candidate X couldn’t do any worse, right? holdyournoseandvoteAnd in the case of Dory Chaloub, I’m not sure I could say that with a whole lot of confidence.

How is that possible?

This takes me back to a theme that’s emerged most glaringly during this campaign. In amidst talk of infrastructure deficits, transit deficits, what’s lost in the shuffle is our democratic deficit. In places throughout the city, like Ward 11, residents have been so poorly served for so long by those they’ve elected to City Hall that they’ve simply given up hope for anything different. There’s no reason to hope for change because change never comes, and when and if it does, it rarely is change for the better.

One of the first questions council challengers hear at the door when they’re out canvassing is, How are you going to be any different? That’s a tough one to answer because “they” haven’t been any different for years, decades, a generation.

So who on earth is going to put their neck out there and risk what is almost certain defeat?

What is remarkable is how many people have actually done that this election year. holdyournoseandvote2There are a lot of eminently electable candidates running in areas of the city where good candidates are not the norm. Despite an uphill battle convincing constituents that it can be different, they’re out there, convincing them.

Not in Ward 11 this time out, unfortunately.

There is no good choice to be made for city councillor in Ward 11. If I lived there, I’d probably leave my council vote blank, decline it as best you could, as a form of protest.

I was surprised a little bit then when yesterday in the Toronto Star’s city council endorsement list, they gave a thumbs up to Dory Chaloub, reasoning, pretty much, that anyone would be better than Frances Nunziata. “A dose of vitality.” Obviously, they saw something in him that escaped our notice or (and I’m thinking this is much more likely) they weren’t paying that close of attention.decisionsdecisions

I base this assertion on some of the other endorsements the Star made including perhaps the most jaw-dropping. Denzil Minnan-Wong in Ward 34 Don Valley East. “A thinking conservative,” the Star called him. “An asset on council.”

It’s hard to believe the person who wrote those words watched the same last 4 years of city council as I did. Minnan-Wong was every bit as destructive, divisive and partisan as Frances Nunziata, arguably more so as he held much more policy sway than she did. (Think of him as last term’s John Tory to Nunziata’s Rob Ford.)

The big difference between them is Minnan-Wong’s actually got a viable, interesting challenger running against him in Mary Hynes. Yet he gets an endorsement and Frances Nunziata doesn’t. How?

This happened elsewhere throughout the city in the Star’s endorsements. endorsement1They give a ‘lukewarm’ endorsement to Michelle Berardinetti in Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest even though she’s got a very good challenger in Paul Bocking. In Ward 7 York West, they overlook Keegan Henry-Mathieu for the non-entity but last election’s runner-up Nick Di Nizio to replace Giorgio Mammoliti. With a series of open wards in Etobicoke, the Star just as often went with names as they did interesting choices. Andray Domise for sure. But Stephen Holyday and Justin Di Ciano?

And aside from showing up, it’s hard to see how Diane Hall will be a better representative for Ward 44 than Ron Moeser especially when there were at least a couple other strong candidates running there.

Look, we agreed with the Star more often than not in its endorsements. (They did pick Franco Ng over Jim Karygianis to replace Mike Del Grande in Ward 39). We certainly didn’t expect to agree across the board with them.holdyournoseandvote1

But I look at their endorsements and I’m not sure what kind of city council the editorial board of the Toronto Star wants. Cynically, my first guess is familiar faces. Aside from the worst of the worst of incumbents – your Nunziatas, your Mammolitis, your Crisantis, Fords Crawfords and Grimes – I’d argue the Star went with name recognition even in many of the races where they wanted the incumbents defeated, they picked 2nd place finishers in previous elections or other candidates who had some traction already.

“We’re not big fans of political dynasties but…” Stephen Holyday? Why?

It’s not that we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke ran an exhaustive survey of the council races. We did our diligence in many of them and where we didn’t feel we did? We didn’t endorse. It seemed unfair, uninformed and arbitrary. eenymeenyminymoWe wanted our choices to reflect our values of what we expected from city councillors not be little more than, I don’t know, lottery picks.

Trotting out a list of endorsements heavy with name recognition does little to battle the power of incumbency. It further beefs up the status quo and gives the impression of immutability. Change comes slowly if it comes at all.

It helps feed into the sense of hopelessness in places like Ward 11 where someone like Frances Nunziata reigns supreme.

disconcertingly submitted by Cityslikr

6 Responses to If You’re Not Even Going To Try…

  1. Greg Banks says:

    I’d like to hear your quick thumbnails on Susan Narain (8), Ishrath Velshi (26), Kevin Winson (38), Masihullah Mohebzada (36) Alan Burke (32), Sean Yilmaz (28) David Epstein (10) Danny Quatrociocchi (9) David Mousavi (23)….If you have time or any interest. Thanks

  2. squibbs2014 says:

    I was just as baffled by the Star’s endorsement of Dory Chalhoub yesterday and voiced that concern to their editorial dept. They did reply back and suffice to say, we will agree to disagree! This is what I sent:
    Dear Ms. English,

    I saw the Star’s endorsements today in the paper and have to take exception with your pick for Ward 11 – Dory Chalhoub over Councillor Frances Nunziata. While Councillor Nunziata and I have what we call a ‘frenemy’ relationship, weighted right now towards the positive side, and she has given us moments of frustration in the riding, I am disturbed by your paper’s assessment. In the past two years, with direction from a number of community groups, she has been more than willing to work towards making York South-Weston a better place to live, work and play. Many of us can attest to this fact. Could she be even better? You bet! Could she be worse? For sure. So the endorsement by the Star for her challenger, Dory Chalhoub, is troubling. You might as well have endorsed the other challenger who is completely invisible!

    Mr. Chalhoub is a complete unknown to the riding. There is no community activism. No community engagement. No volunteerism that can be tracked over the past number of years. In fact, no one has met him unless he deigned to come by your door. He has not been at my door at all and I live in the heart of the north end of the riding. He has never shopped in my store which is the oldest retail business in the riding. Ironically, the empty store next to me was the beneficiary a few weeks ago of one of his postcards while my store was not. I find that troubling and laughable — is this the kind of care he will take while representing a community he doesn’t know at all? He has stated, publicly, that “as a person who works full time, I cannot attend every meeting”. Well, I run my own business six days a week. I also sit on a number of community groups and asked him at the debate last week – the first time seeing him in public – to name at least four of the community groups. He could not. So it is perplexing how someone who is a complete unknown to a community could be endorsed by the largest paper in the GTA. He is not aware of the Weston Village Residents Association, Weston Community Coalition (who has led the fight against diesel trains through the City), Weston Heritage Conservation District, Weston Historical Society nor many of the other groups around. He also made disparaging comments about the communities of Weston and Mount Dennis as well as about our main streets and has never been to our Weston Village Farmers’ Market which is one of the oldest markets in the the City. Not who I want representing me at all as a resident and business owner. He might look good but there is no substance there.

    Frances has her flaws and foibles for sure. And if this was the last election or the one before, I would have agreed with getting rid of her and in fact, did vote for others. However, the past two years has brought out a nicer, more ‘user-friendly’ Councillor who has worked well with others. Not everyone will agree with that assessment for sure but as one who has a ‘love-hate’ relationship with her, I can attest that people do change, for the better.


    Suri Weinberg-Linsky
    Squibb’s Stationers est 1927
    1974 Weston Road

    I am not ‘holding my nose’ to vote. Frances has earned my vote this time and until I see otherwise, I am content to say so.

  3. Mrkan Khorevic says:

    So when left leaning councillors are partisan…it is ok for you?

    Anyone who isnt left leaning you call destructive.

  4. Thankful says:

    Well I think it’s clear who the Nunziata supporter is and that’s okay, we know there’s many of them. If you have finally had a positive experience with her after over 20 years, then that makes it okay to erase all the other damage? You acknowledged yourself that you had been voting otherwise in the past few elections, so how many chances must one person get?

    And it was you that asked the question at the debate? Do you remember Frances’ response? Because for those that weren’t there, you have failed to mention that she did not say all those groups. And that was a clear Nunziata supporter, leaning question as identified by everyone else mumbling and many others who reported on it after, so there was not much merit to your question.

    Questions that can be accurately answered via one quick Google search that someone can ‘know’ right away, are not deciding factors for me. How you view my ward, what you are willing to do for my ward and how – this is what I want to know and I believe I have given Frances Nunziata plenty of chances to show me that.

    If you want to compare the campaigning, then you really have no leg to stand on. Has Dory made it to every door in ward 11? No he has not, although he has been canvassing. Has Frances made it to every door in ward 11? No she has not, as she does not feel she needs to (her own words) and we have been watching her canvass for her brother on TV.

    I think your motives are a little personal, which is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    As for the post, I completely disagree with the encouragement to not vote. You are in essence promoting the complaining factor and pointing out what’s wrong or not working, but then saying not to do anything about it. Let us not take democracy for granted and actually make use of it.

    At this point, although I think it’s clear, I will give Dory 4 years to act on what he’s said.

    • Surster says:

      Actually, I never said ‘not to vote’. So please don’t put words in my mouth. If people want to vote for someone who has completely zero knowledge of the neighbourhood they purport to want to represent, have at it. You get what you pay for. I know what I am getting when I cast my vote. Dory didn’t say anything at the debate that was substantive in my opinion. And if he really wanted to engage someone who challenged him, he would have walked up to me afterwards to get to know me. But he didn’t. In fact, I was standing with a few others and Dory walked up to where we are, sort of stopped but then walked away. I was standing around until the very end and there were many more opportunities for him to approach me but he didn’t. So, what I am to take from that?

      My motives are such: Frances did not get my vote in at least 2 previous elections based on what had been transpiring in the community and my own personal interactions. For the past 2 years in particular, she has made every effort to rectify and engage people that she had been adversarial with before including myself. I know what kind of help she has been with heritage issues over the years, which are important to many of us, and getting developers engaged on the areas that need help. So how is that being ineffectual?

      Frances didn’t answer my question well for sure and I told her so later. Dory didn’t even try and he hasn’t tried since. And to never come out to any community meeting saying “I work full time, I’m busy” is really the WRONG thing to say to me. If I was Dory, I would have been trying to find out who I was and would have been at my door to speak to me the next day or on the weekend — I am completely reachable.

      To have someone in the seat who will probably need about 2 years to figure it all out will be detrimental to all the hard work that has already been done over the past 2 years. So to give a neophyte 4 years to ‘act on what he has said’ when we need an experienced person is just not something I am prepared to do. Too many wheels are already in motion and balls are in the air.

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