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Reacting to the Toronto municipal election results

Students reflect on Tory’s centrism, Gebresellassi’s idealism, enduring gender inequity, poor voter turnout, and transit policy

Reacting to the Toronto municipal election results

On Monday, October 22, municipal elections were held across Ontario. Comment contributors discuss candidates, issues, and the significance of the Toronto municipal election.


Tory’s centrism is his greatest strength

No matter where your vote landed Monday night, John Tory’s re-election as mayor is surely justified. Without question, he is neither a flashy politician nor someone whose charisma exceeds the likes of Keesmaat’s or Gebresellassi’s. He is neither a bigot nor a great fighter for civil liberties. Rather, he sits comfortably in the middle of the road.

In the current political climate, it may be that a politician who sets out to please as many people as possible is not a liability. In fact, his greatest strengths lie perhaps in his political ambiguity and willingness to forgo dogmatic stridence.

Putting aside political affiliation, Tory’s past as a leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives has also equipped him with the ability to make alliances and receive substantial funding. In his first four years as mayor, he proved able to work effectively with people who transcended partisan lines. He stuck to much of his 2014 campaign platform and should be given the chance to realize his mandate.

He is not, however, immune to criticism. In the past, he has made comments about mental health in relation to shootings and about the authority of police officers that were disrespectful and pandered to the popular sentiment of the day.

To many, his plan for 40,000 affordable housing units seems to pale in comparison to Keesmaat’s promise of 100,000 units. Tory is, however, more readily able to receive the funding necessary for such a project and actually deliver on the promise.

The final point that seems to have been overlooked is his opposition to Premier Doug Ford. It may be upsetting to some that we have settled for a centrist politician. However, if we look at many of the other elected officials right now, he may in fact be the greatest asset for our municipal government. A middle-of-the-road approach that seeks to please all constituents may just be the opposition that Ford needs.

Coulter Jennings is a second-year History student at University College.


Gebresellassi would have been an ideal Toronto mayor

John Tory’s re-election as mayor of Toronto may have been more ideal than the election of some other candidates, such as white nationalist Faith Goldy, but it is still not the optimal choice.

Human rights lawyer Saron Gebresellassi would have been a better mayor for the city of Toronto. Her priorities were everything the people of Toronto needed for a better, more livable city.

Gebresellassi promised to ensure that every Toronto resident would have access to affordable housing, a right to which every Torontonian is entitled. Toronto’s housing market is extremely heated. Her campaign to tackle this problem was in the best interest of U of T students.

She also promised to ensure that Torontonians have access to an inexpensive and efficient transit system. Indeed, a functional transit system in which overcrowding and delays are not a constant source of complaint is crucial — especially as many U of T students depend on public transit.

Candidates who were genuinely concerned about the well-being and betterment of our city were not elected. I hope that, during the next municipal election, a suitable mayor will be voted into office to cater to the needs of the people of Toronto from all walks of life.

Shukri Mohamed is a first-year Social Sciences and Humanities student at UTSC.


Keesmaat’s loss is a blow to gender equity

In a country dominated by men in politics, Toronto could have seen its first female mayor since amalgamation elected on Monday. Sadly, those vouching for Jennifer Keesmaat or any of the other female candidates will have to wait another four years. Keesmaat won 23.59 per cent of the votes across Toronto, while John Tory, the leading male candidate, won with 63.49 per cent of votes.

Keesmaat was deemed the frontrunner against John Tory, despite constantly polling significantly behind him. All cameras were on her to see if she would succeed the incumbent from the moment she announced her intention to run three months ago.

It was a long campaign, and Keesmaat campaigned on many policies that focused on issues that Tory and other male candidates seemed to neglect, including policies that would have advocated for gender parity across City of Toronto Boards and many community safety programs.

For young women, it has been increasingly hard to become involved in the political scene. Having equal representation is crucial; female politicians offer insight to the world through different lenses. History has shown that female politicians tend to advocate for stronger policies protecting women, whether it is regarding equal pay or a comprehensive sex education curriculum.

Having unequal representation means that policies that directly affect women may be glossed over, or deemed insignificant  — the most recent example in Ontario being the reimplementation of intoxication as a usable defence in sexual assault trials.

The results of the election are bleak and discouraging in terms of equitable gender representation. Out of the 25 wards, only eight  elected councillors are female. In terms of gender parity, Toronto has failed. Women of all ages should be encouraged and mentored so that we can see changes in the next election.

Gabrielle Cotton is a fourth-year Equity Studies, Political Science, and Urban Studies student at Woodsworth College.


To create change, our voter turnout needs to be better

On October 22, I did not vote. I had walked past the bright yellow signs pointing to the various polling stations, but I didn’t enter because I’m currently ineligible to vote — I am a permanent resident. However, I know for a fact that I will be in Hart House, ready to cast my vote at the first opportunity I get.

On the evening of the election, I sat down on the couch, glancing periodically up from my readings to peek at CBC anchors pointing to various figures and maps of projected results. The figure that perhaps most disheartened me — even more than the fact that Faith Goldy, a white nationalist, somehow managed to get 3.4 per cent of the vote — was the fact that only 41 per cent of all eligible Toronto voters cast their ballots. This was the lowest voter turnout since 2006 and a major drop from the 2014 elections, when 60 percent of Torontonians voted for who would represent them in City Hall.

I understand that this was not the most glamorous of elections. There were few controversies. Platforms, for the most part, dealt with tough and nuanced issues. Housing, transportation, and public infrastructure were at the forefront of the election, and none can be satisfied by easy or partisan answers. Thus, making a distinction between candidates and caring about the distinction between candidates was hard.

Nonetheless, municipal elections are vitally important to every Torontonian. No level of government is more directly responsible for serving our local community than our elected municipal officials. If we want to be able to buy a condo in the GTA in the next few years, to get onto a train at rush hour without feeling like a sardine, or to have accessible and helpful city services for all, we have to step up.

Young people are Ontario’s largest voting cohort, outnumbering baby boomers. Yet, the largest voting block still tends to be those over 65, and the smallest consists of those from 1825.

I believe that our generation is diverse, passionate, and ready for change. But in order to incite that change, we must care to do our duty as democratic citizens. We can do better. I hope to vote in the next federal elections and I look forward to seeing the U of T community filling out ballots alongside me.

Ori Gilboa is a first-year Humanities student at Victoria College.


Hoping for a better, affordable transit system

The municipal elections are over, and Progressive Conservatives John Tory and Patrick Brown are entrusted by Ontarians to serve their cities with honour and pride. The juxtaposition between the mayor who was praised for his policies and the mayor who was condemned for his alleged sexual misconduct is apparent. However, there was one election issue that numerous GTA Ontarians had in mind: public transit.

The transit plan of Patrick Brown, the mayor-elect of Brampton, is to push for Ontario to have a two-way all-way GO transit line that connects Brampton to Toronto. John Tory, the incumbent mayor of Toronto, intends to complete the TTC Relief Line.

I believe that Brown should push to have at least two express trains that run toward Union Station from Brampton in the morning rush hours. Tory should only construct the relief line in downtown Toronto and make it an east-west rectangular loop, similar to that of Chicago. This would easily connect commuters from all corners of downtown.

Both Brown and Tory should implement policies to make transit free for students so that they can focus on paying their tuition fees. Students would benefit from this, since it allows them to move around campus by transit for free. The only concern they should have is allocating time for commuting to school and back home.

Bryan Liceralde is a third-year Political Science student at St. Michael’s College.

Jennifer Keesmaat speaks at Innis Town Hall

Mayoral candidate talks affordable housing, public transit, local democracy

Jennifer Keesmaat speaks at Innis Town Hall

Mayoral candidate and former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat spoke at a student-led discussion hosted by the Urban Studies Student Union on September 24 at Innis Town Hall.

The event, titled “Our City, Our Future: Students in Conversation with Jennifer Keesmaat” aimed at discussing pressing Toronto issues, including public transit, affordable housing, local arts and culture initiatives, and the importance of local democracy and community engagement.

The discussion was moderated by Anjuli Solanki, an artist and the Director of Community Programs at the Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space Initiative, which provides a creative space for public engagement and community building projects in developing neighbourhoods.

“It takes 20 seconds to get a young person engaged in community politics,” said Keesmaat on student civic engagement. “Mention: one, affordable housing and two, public transit.”

Affordable housing

When addressed with the issue of affordable housing, Keesmaat put forward her strategy of creating 100,000 affordable units on city-owned land, which she said would target both working- and middle-class families.

She also criticized incumbent Mayor John Tory’s housing strategy, saying that during his tenure as mayor, he sold city-owned land to developers to build luxury condominiums, which contributed to the already-skyrocketing real estate market.

Public transit

Keesmaat’s public transit plan was a prominent topic of discussion, especially her focus on Relief Line transit and the development of Line 3 Scarborough.

She added that she wants to develop a long-term transit plan to fix what she sees as the failure of the current state of Toronto public transit.

Keesmaat noted that property closest to transit is the most expensive for families, thus making it inconvenient to find an affordable home with a reliable transit route.

Additionally, she pointed to the overcrowding of Line 1 Yonge-University during rush hour leading to issues such as long waiting times and insufficient subway infrastructure.

Keesmaat was critical of Tory’s SMARTtrack plan, which she said has taken four years to build since Tory’s 2014 mayoral campaign and costs nearly $1.46 billion.

She plans to fund the cost of her transit plan through responsible funding and affordable fares.

The province has granted the city $5 billion for subway development, committing to cover one-third of the costs.

In her transit network plan, Keesmaat plans to reach out to marginalized communities and ensure a reliable transit network, specifically referring to the proposed Jane light rail.

Arts and culture in Toronto

When discussing the local Toronto arts and culture scene, Keesmaat encouraged the expansion of growing cultural hubs and programs.

She referenced the Artscape Weston Cultural Hub, a public space partnered with Artscape and Metrolink providing a creative space for artists and aimed at revitalizing an area in need of renewal. She emphasized that local arts employ 11 million people annually, though it often faces major budget cuts from the provincial government.

Keesmaat stresses that accessing the arts strengthens connections between and within neighbourhoods.

“Arts and culture are a way we build our identity, tell stories, and make sense of who we are as a society,” said Keesmaat.

City Council cuts

When asked about Premier Doug Ford’s decision to cut the number of city council wards from 47 to 25, Keesmaat responded that she “would not have traded democracy,” and emphasized the need for a strong mayor to stand up to the premier. She added that local democracy matters and that Ford needs to “mind his own business,” pointing to the $15 billion provincial deficit.

“Voting matters. Leadership has an impact on the quality of our lives.”

Meet the people running for office in University—Rosedale

Candidates champion progressive solutions to student issues

Meet the people running for office in University—Rosedale

With election day fast approaching and Toronto city boundaries settled, The Varsity spoke to four of the seven candidates running in University—Rosedale about their plans for office.

PHOTO BY MARC DEMOUY/CC FLICKR

Mike Layton

Mike Layton, the incumbent councillor for Ward 19 Trinity—Spadina, believes that local government needs to “get back in the business of building affordable housing.”

“Sometimes we call things affordable that really aren’t because our definition of affordable is average market rent across the city,” said Layton.

“Around the St. George campus in particular, I would challenge you to find somewhere that’s actually affordable, in the actual definition of what we would think of affordable.”

Layton is running for re-election in the larger ward of University—Rosedale, which represents part of Layton’s current electoral district. The new borders align with provincial and federal ridings, as mandated in recent legislation from the government of Premier Doug Ford.

Layton studied at U of T, and he recalled cycling around the city growing up and recognizing the lack of resources for bike users. He championed his achievements on council.

“In the last term of council, Councillor [Joe] Cressy and I, through working extremely hard with local residents’ associations… were able to shepherd [bike paths] through a largely suburban, largely conservative city council,” he said.

In response to the death of a UTSC student in a fire at a private residence, Layton said that the city needs to recognize that there are illegal rooming houses and should address the issue.

“We need to ensure that our rooming house bylaw is living up to what it should be and that’s to ensure that spaces are safe across the city,” he said. “While we can’t be afraid of ensuring people’s public safety or people’s safety in their homes, we can’t be afraid of the political ramifications of that.”

He also said that the city should take a look at short-term rentals, like Airbnb. “It’s actually taking units off the market and I can tell you firsthand now, knocking on the doors across University—Rosedale, that far too many multi-unit residential houses… are actually entirely off the market,” he said.

COURTESY OF NICKI WARD

Nicki Ward

Nicki Ward, a board member of The 519, a community centre in the Church and Wellesley Village, is advocating for intergenerational methods to help ease students’ worries about post-graduation job availability, namely “interning/mentoring opportunities between older and younger groups.”

Ward explained that “there are a number of older groups, for example, people in their 50s and 60s, who are looking to transfer their skill set to younger people who are entering the community.”

Her campaign slogan is “Common Sense and Compassion,” highlighting her background in business, human rights, and social justice activism — the latter of which she argues is “above reproach.”

“I’ve been directly involved in human rights activity in the LGBT community, specifically around gender identity roles,” she said. “I’ve been at the forefront of making sure that we live in an inclusive society.”

Ward also emphasized her experience in managing large groups, saying it was increasingly critical in a rapidly enlarging world.

PHOTO BY HANI JAJEH

Marc Albert Cormier

Marc Albert Cormier teaches math and science to seventh and eighth graders in Toronto. He is running on making Kensington Market a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Now I know that’s a bit of a long shot,” he said, “but when you consider that downtown Lunenberg in Nova Scotia was recognized as world heritage, I believe that Kensington, the most unique neighbourhood in the entire city, should be protected.”

On student issues, Cormier believes that City Council should look into asking the TTC to possibly extend youth transportation pricing to postsecondary students. “If that could be extended to the university level, I would definitely support that option,” he said.

Cormier also said that housing has become a crisis in the city, and supported further developing laneway housing, which are usually small detached homes in pre-existing lots next to alleyways.

“I think we need to be much more aggressive in developing these,” he said. “Rental prices are through the roof and we absolutely have to look at these different options.”

PHOTO BY NORM BETTS

Joyce Rowlands

Joyce Rowlands has worked as an occupational health nurse, a writer, and as a public policy consultant in the regulatory sector. She’s also the daughter of the late June Rowlands, the former Mayor of Toronto, and previously ran for the Ontario legislature in Toronto—Danforth in 2007 under the Liberal banner but lost to incumbent MPP Peter Tabuns of the New Democratic Party.

Despite having a long track record in different career areas, Rowlands said she’s “not a career politician or an activist or an entrenched partisan of any stripe, and I won’t be wedded to any particular faction on council or voting bloc at City Hall.”

She considers herself a “progressive centrist” and vowed to work with city councillors across the board.

“I’ll work with community groups and student groups and individuals in the community and in the student body to identify realistic, affordable solutions so that we can get on… these critical issues that are facing this city,” said Rowlands.

Rowlands added that she intends to collaborate with students on issues like public transit. She referenced the failed U-Pass referendum at St. George, which would have provided unlimited transit on the TTC for a semesterly cost of $280, but did not have the option to opt out. “I think it would be better to have an opt-out option for students that don’t use the TTC, if that is in any way realistically possible, given the various parties that would have to come to the table and agree on a plan,” she said.

Seven candidates are running for University—Rosedale: Michael Borrelli, Cormier, Layton, Rowlands, George Sawision, Michael Shaw, and Ward. Election day is on October 22, and advance voting begins October 10 and runs until October 14. Voters in the ward can either go to Rosedale United Church at 159 Roxborough Drive or Cecil Community Centre at 58 Cecil Street to cast their ballot.

Mayoral debate at Scarborough campus focuses on transit issues

Candidates discuss uploading TTC, transit affordability

Mayoral debate at Scarborough campus focuses on transit issues

TTCriders, an organization of transit users, and the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) hosted a mayoral debate focused on transit on September 26.

Three candidates — former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, lawyer and activist Saron Gebresellassi, and safe streets activist Sarah Climenhaga — took the stage at the Scarborough campus. The debate was moderated by The Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee.

John Tory, the incumbent mayoral candidate, was invited but did not attend. At the end of the debate, candidate Dionee Renée, who spells her name D!ONEE Renée, ­was invited to give a two-minute speech. She claimed ownership of the idea of free transit and underscored accessibility needs, which she felt had been lacking during the debate.

A Mainstreet Research poll released on September 26 put Keesmaat at 20.3 per cent, nearly 30 points behind Tory, who remains in the lead. Gebresellassi and Climenhaga both polled at around one per cent and undecided voters made up 27.4 per cent of the survey. The same poll found transit to be the most pressing issue in the mayoral election — overtaking concerns of housing affordability, crime and safety, and accountability.

Uploading the TTC to the province

All three candidates were asked about their stance on the provincial governments’ moves to take over Toronto’s subway system.

The proposal, made by the Progressive Conservatives during the provincial election, aims for the province to adopt major capital maintenance fees and control any expansion planning. Tory showed slight interest in the plan, however City Council voted 30–6 in favor of maintaining public ownership of the TTC. Premier Doug Ford, who campaigned on uploading the TTC to the province and whose party guaranteed the upload under a majority, became the centre of the candidates’ discussion.

Keesmaat proposed that any projects to upload the TTC should go through the mayor and the city council. She also emphasized the need for the TTC to remain a “public asset,” refuting any claims that turning the TTC private would raise capital funds or improve the transit system.

Agreeing with Keesmaat, Climenhaga commented on Ford’s ability to “do things even if we don’t agree with them” and supported the need to work with the premier on this issue.

Gebresellassi criticized Tory for his lack of strong leadership and underscored the need for mayoral leadership that would “stand up against Doug Ford,” particularly on the issue of uploading the subway to the provincial government.

ANDY TAKAGI/THE VARSITY

Free transit

The first candidate to mention free transit was Gebresellassi, whose campaign is largely based on the idea of making Toronto the first metropolis in Canada to maintain a free public transit system.

Placing heavy emphasis on the idea of “transit as a fundamental human right,” Gebresellassi proposed eliminating corporate loopholes and using federal funding to finance her proposal.

Climenhaga took a moderate stance on the issue ­— labeling it a goal to be achieved through long-term investment in the transit system and a gradual reduction of fares.

Keesmaat heavily opposed the idea of free transit, criticizing not only Gebresellassi’s funding plans for the proposal, but also pointing out the resulting issues of overcrowding and the loss of the TTC’s operating revenue. She further underscored the need for more investment to develop transit expansion over the development of free transit.

“I thank [Gebresellassi] for putting the idea of free transit on the table, and I have to say it is a ridiculous idea that would ruin our transit system.”

During an interview with The Varsity, Gebresellassi pushed back.

“I think her position says it all. This is why we keep saying Jennifer Keesmaat is not a champion for working-class people,” a sentiment that was not brought up during the debate.

Additionally, Gebresellassi argued against claims that the plan would be difficult to fund: “As the 13th wealthiest city in the world, we could have free transit if we wanted to.”

Transit affordability for students

After the failure of the U-Pass referendum last year, postsecondary student fares for transit and the development of a student pass has been the focus of the debate on transit affordability for university students.

SCSU President Nicole Brayiannis opened the question portion of the debate by asking about affordable transit for students, especially those who commute long distances.

Keesmaat responded to the question by calling out the provincial government for stalling fare integration with GO, which would allow transferring from the TTC to GO without having to pay multiple fares. Inter-municipal fare integration as well as transferable regional fares were proposed for commuting students.

Taking a similar stance, Climenhaga agreed on the need for fare integration but also emphasized the need to work with the province on affordable student housing, zoning to make student housing development easier, and increased employment opportunities.

In her response, Gebresellassi proposed expanding the low-income transit pass, also known as the Fair Fare Pass, universally. Differing from the other candidates, she also highlighted the need for job opportunities and engagement outside of the downtown core and called for a multitude of plans that would encourage local hiring and youth training.

Audience members, SCSU executives, volunteers, the event photographer, and Campus Police stand in front of protestors holding signs. ANDY TAKAGI/THE VARSITY

Protesters

In the middle of Climenhaga’s opening statement, protesters in the audience began shouting, “Where is Faith Goldy?” Picketers with signs that read, “Let Faith Speak,” stood in the back of the room.

Faith Goldy, a controversial mayoral candidate associated with white nationalists, was not invited to speak at the event.

The commotion prompted multiple audience members to stand up, resulting in loud protests both against and in support of Goldy.

A chant began from the protesters demanding: “We want Faith.”

The protesters were eventually asked to leave and were escorted out of the room. Goldy herself interrupted a debate just two days earlier, where she was escorted off stage by police officers.

The Toronto municipal elections will be held on October 22, and advance voting will take place from October 10–14.

Keesmaat brings little substance, her audience little scrutiny

Recent Innis Town Hall exposes mayoral candidate’s shortcomings, particularly regarding housing, transit issues

Keesmaat brings little substance, her audience little scrutiny

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat spoke at an event organized by the Urban Studies Student Union at Innis Town Hall on September 24, discussing her platform and answering questions. Standing ahead of me in line to meet her, some Urban Studies students conversed: “One would think an urban planner is suited to govern a major city… unless you’re Robert Moses.”

In comparison with the legendary, brash, and successful New York City ‘master planner,’ Keesmaat could not be more similar and yet more different. If elected, there would be an equal level of risk and markedly less reward.

To put this in context, Keesmaat began the evening as one would expect from the typecast municipal politician: smiling widely, acting down-to-earth, encouraging participation, and showing high-pitched enthusiasm on local issues. Some prepared questions from the moderator only complemented this theme as they essentially allowed Keesmaat to reiterate her stump-speech talking points. The open Q&A session thereafter, however, proved slightly more eventful.

Forum Research recently reported that public transit was the top issue for 70 per cent of Toronto voters. It was therefore not a surprise when Keesmaat was asked about her transit plan for revamping the TTC. Seeking to expand light rail corridors and keep the controversial Scarborough subway, Keesmaat’s plan is estimated to cost $50 billion — over four times the city’s annual budget. Keesmaat was pressed on how she would pay for it and ensure that deficits would be stable and fares would not go up.

Keesmaat did not respond well. She pivoted the subway issue to the province, which has agreed to pay its $6.8 billion cost, and launched into platitudes on the importance of transit for communities — while making time to criticize Mayor John Tory for his SmartTrack station-expansion plan. Oft-labelled by her as drafted “on the back of a napkin,” her plan happens to be one that she worked on for three years as Chief Planner in Tory’s government. A follow-up question was denied, leaving her relieved of further scrutiny.

Other questions pertained to the issue of public housing, which Keesmaat identified as an area that young people can get most involved, alongside transit. In seeking to address concerns raised about rising property prices, which particularly hurt minorities and middle-low income groups, Keesmaat’s response was better than on transit. She touted a generic plan to build 100,000 more homes.

However, she still did little to address core issues. Indeed, the purchase of land for luxury developments has sent housing prices and living costs soaring across Toronto, particularly downtown, over the last several years. Keesmat’s avoidance of this issue means little promise of change for vulnerable working-class Torontonians, all while her own platform, according to the Toronto Star, offers developers incentives to build on city land and gives no details on property taxes.

To be fair, Keesmaat’s answers to less challenging questions were appreciable, particularly on consensus issues of public safety and community engagement. But those predictable responses are of little value when compared to the relevant issues left unaddressed, especially by a candidate headed to the polls in less than a month.

That being said, this dearth isn’t entirely Keesmaat’s fault. The audience present could have asked far more critical questions and pressed Keesmaat on controversial issues: the rising homicide rate and the City Council size reduction, among others.

A society will only lose and politicians will only gain from citizens not being appropriately and vigorously critical where most relevant. Doing so is our civic duty. This may truly be, to cite Keesmaat’s words, the kind of “community engagement” that we need to improve our city.

Arjun Singh is a first-year Political Science student at New College.

In conversation with municipal candidates for Mississauga’s Ward 8

Spotlight on affordable housing, public transit, job opportunities

In conversation with municipal candidates for Mississauga’s Ward 8

On October 22, Mississauga will elect its mayor, councillors, and school board trustees. In advance of the fall date, The Varsity spoke to four of the six candidates running for council in Ward 8, which contains the UTM campus.

The candidates spoke about student issues ranging from affordable and safe housing to public transit.

Candidates Abdul Azeem Baig and Amadeus Blazys could not be reached for an interview.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT MAHONEY

Matt Mahoney

Mahoney is the incumbent councillor for Ward 8, a seat he’s held since 2014, and one which his mother, Katie Mahoney, previously held for 23 years. Speaking to The Varsity, he said that he’s very “proud” of his track record in community projects.

“We’ve created… community-based facilities that UTM students can access, whether it’s multi-use courts, whether it’s new park land, whether it’s transit investment,” said Mahoney.

On affordable and safe housing, Mahoney believes that U of T and other universities should improve their current situation, especially due to their growing numbers.

“This year at UTM was the highest [intake of] first-year students that the university has ever had, and yet they didn’t expand their housing on campus,” he noted. “I 100 per cent support and have been encouraging the university to invest more money in housing to make sure that local students as well as foreign students have a safe and quality place to live.”

On public transit, Mahoney said that his office has met with Mayor Bonnie Crombie, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union, and the university administration to discuss collaborating with other municipalities, including Brampton, to have “one pass with one fee that the students can access.”

On job opportunities for students, Mahoney claimed that Mississauga regularly attracts Fortune 500 companies, and said that the city is an essential base of human capital due to its large student presence.

“We’ve got economic development promoting the University of Toronto Mississauga and vice versa to ensure that students have a quality job,” he said. “What we want is the students who come from outside of Mississauga or outside of the country to stay in Mississauga.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF TARIQ SHAH

Tariq Shah

Shah believes that affordable housing has become a “rising concern” for many communities in Mississauga.

In order to solve this issue, he is committed to meeting with MPs, MPPs, and other members of local government “to ensure that we all have a safe place for ourselves, our families, our students, and our communities.”

For public transit, Shah conceded that, although students have access to a U-Pass, commuting could be expensive for those taking other systems like the GO train. He put forward the idea of having shuttles from different stations in Mississauga.

When it comes to job opportunities, Shah said that he’ll reach out to big companies to encourage them to take in UTM co-op students instead of students from other universities.

“I will make sure that they will give preference to the students who [are in] UTM, and this is my main concern right now,” said Shah.

PHOTO BY AOUS POULES

Adam Etwell

Etwell is a political newcomer who criticized the current members of city council who “appear satisfied to maintain the status quo.”

“I don’t have previous elected experience, which I would say is a feature of my record that speaks to my propensity for success,” he noted. “Because if you turn to the track record of the current council, we’ve had the same problems getting worse and worse.”

Etwell emphasized that the need for affordable and safe housing is one of his main priorities. “We can’t just keep refurbishing old developments that are 50 or 60 years old,” said Etwell. “We need to pay for new developments.”

When asked about public transit, Etwell said that, although Metrolinx covers the GO system instead of the City of Mississauga, the local government could offer riders increased frequency.

“I would say maintain open communication with organizations like Metrolinx, making sure that we’re doing everything we can to foster that partnership to make things [as] affordable as possible,” he said.

Regarding job opportunities, Etwell said that it’s important to turn to students as a burgeoning part of the workforce. “I would rather us foster in-house talent so that we can retain assets,” he explained. “What better way to foster assets than to turn to… universities and colleges where people who are extremely talented are coming out of various programs that can be relevant to the city.”

Grzegorz Nowacki

Nowacki told The Varsity that he is a “strong believer in higher education,” and that his platform is “pro-business.”

“Education creates innovation and prosperity, and I’m very proactive in fighting for a better Mississauga,” he said.

“We will turn Mississauga into a twenty-first century city.”

On affordable housing, Nowacki said that Mississauga needs to construct taller buildings due to a lack of space, and pledged to work with U of T, the government, and private companies on this.

“This will somehow resolve the housing problem for not only students but other residents,” he asserted. “More houses will be available, prices will be lower, fees will be lower.”

Nowacki also wants to create a unified transit system across the GTA and pledged to work with the province on it.

“I will see if there is a possibility that the provincial government will agree to make one transit,” he said. “So for students, in this case, if they have Mississauga transit, Mississauga pass, they will have a GTA pass, which will allow them to travel not only to Mississauga, but all over the GTA.”

When it comes to job opportunities, Nowacki wants international businesses to go to Mississauga. “This will require some changing and planning in urban development, because we need to create and plan some areas where we can dedicate it to commercial businesses,” he said.

Students in Mississauga can take part in advance voting from October 5–6 at Mississauga Civic Centre, and October 13–14 at all community centres and elementary and secondary schools in the Ward 8 area.

On Election Day, UTM students will have access to various voting locations near campus. St. Mark Separate School, South Common Community Centre, Holy Name of Mary College School, Erindale Secondary School, Oakridge Public School, St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School, and St. Clare Separate School in Mississauga all offer polling booths close to their classrooms.

— With files from Ann Marie Elpa and Silas Le Blanc

A students’ guide to the municipal elections

Confusion remains over Premier Doug Ford’s decision to cut size of Toronto City Council, notwithstanding clause

A students’ guide to the municipal elections

Municipalities across Ontario will be holding elections for mayors, local councillors, and school board trustees on October 22. However, the elections have been muddled in the wake of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut down the size of Toronto City Council, as well as his decision to cancel various other elections. To help you sort through the news, The Varsity has created a guide to help students vote.

UTSG

Students in Toronto will have 35 choices for mayor, including incumbent John Tory. Other notable candidates include former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, safe streets advocate Sarah Climenhaga, “people’s” lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, and far-right commentator Faith Goldy.

The elections for city councillors are less straightforward.

In November 2016, City Council approved a recommendation to increase the number of Toronto wards from 44 to 47 for the 2018 municipal elections. This recommendation was part of a three-year review, which concluded that Toronto needed to increase representation to keep up with its growing population.

In July 2018, Ford introduced unprecedented legislation to cut the size of the city council from 47 wards down to 25 in order to match federal and provincial ridings.

Speaking to reporters after the story broke, Ford said, “People tell me that we have too many politicians making it harder to get things done, making it harder to get things built, making it harder to deal with the real problems we face.”

“It’s clear that the size of government is just too large.”

In the aftermath of Ford’s announcement, critics immediately voiced their opposition to the plan, in particular denouncing the lack of consultation. Ford’s plan was brought to court, where, on September 10, a Superior Court justice struck down the bill as unconstitutional.

However, hours later, Ford made another surprise announcement, saying that he plans to use the notwithstanding clause from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a part of the Constitution.

The clause allows the legislature to override parts of the Charter in cases where the courts might be interfering with the elected government’s decisions.

In order for this to work, Ford has come up with an entirely new bill, since the clause cannot be applied retroactively. Although the Tories attempted to push revised Bill 31 through on Saturday, resistance to discussion meant that talks will resume at 12:01 am on Monday.

As this is an ongoing development, it remains unclear whether the municipal elections will go forward with 47 or 25 wards.

Under the 44-ward system, the St. George campus is currently represented by Joe Cressy of Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina on the west side and Kristyn Wong-Tam of Ward 27 Toronto Centre—Rosedale on the east side.

If elections proceed with 47 wards, UTSG will continue to be split in two: the east side as a part of Ward 24 and the west side as a part of Ward 25.

Running in Ward 24 would be Cressy, alongside Michael Barcelos, Michael Borrelli, Marc Cormier, Pedro Marques, and Andrew Massey.

The listed candidates for the new Ward 25 under the 47-ward system are Chris Moise, who joined the court battle against Ford’s council-cutting legislation, as well as John Jeffery, Dan King, Ryan Lester, Kyle McNally, Jules Monteyne, Nicki Ward, Kevin Wiener, and Rob Wolvin.

However, if elections proceed under the 25-ward model, UTSG would be brought together under one ward, University—Rosedale. At this stage, City Clerk Ulli Watkiss is still operating under the 47-ward model until Ford finalizes his use of the notwithstanding clause, although Watkiss has warned that reorganizing a fair election is close to becoming a logistical impossibility.

There is no official list of candidates yet, however, a number of people have already announced their intentions to run.

Incumbent Ward 19 Trinity—Spadina councillor Mike Layton has announced that he would run in University—Rosedale. Cressy has said that he would compete in the neighbouring ward of Spadina—Fort York. Wong-Tam would compete in Toronto Centre.

“After discussions with members of the community and much personal reflection, I have decided that IF Ford is successful, and we are forced to run in a 25 seat race, I will be running to represent the ward of University-Rosedale,” Layton wrote in a statement on September 14.

“I grew up in the Annex and have lived in the Little Italy, Chinatown, and Christie Pitts neighbourhoods my entire adult life. The issues facing this community hit close to home, and are issues I have worked closely on for many years.”

No specific voting places have been released as of September 16. According to the City of Toronto website, “Currently the 2018 Voting places are under review.”

UTSC

Scarborough campus will continue to be contained in one ward in both models. It’s currently represented by Jim Hart of Ward 44 Scarborough East, a former city staffer who was appointed in 2017 following the death of Ron Moeser. Hart is not running in the October 22 election.

Candidates registered under the 47-ward model are Corneliu Chisu, the former MP for Pickering—Scarborough East, who was defeated for re-election; Jennifer McKelvie, a failed candidate in the 2014 election and a former member of the UTSC Campus Council; Paul Cookson; Daniel Cubellis; Reza Khoshdel; Dave Madder; Christopher Riley; Joseph Thomas; and Emery Warner.

If Ford is successful with the notwithstanding clause, the ward will be simply named Ward 47. Under the 25-ward system, it will align with the boundaries of Scarborough—Rouge Park.

As with the downtown wards, the locations of the polls haven’t been specified yet.

UTM

Mississauga will not be affected by the Ford government’s plans, as it is a separate municipality. Elections for mayor, councillors, and school board trustees will be held on October 22, in line with the Toronto municipal elections.

UTM, like UTSC, is contained in a single ward, Ward 8.

Incumbent Bonnie Crombie, who took over the chief executive position from longtime Mayor Hazel McCallion, is running for re-election against Kevin J. Johnston, who was charged in 2017 by Peel Region police for allegedly promoting a hate crime.

There are six people running for councillor in Ward 8. Matt Mahoney, the incumbent, is running for re-election. The other candidates are Grzegorz Nowacki, Amadeus Blazys, Adam Etwell, Tariq Ali Shah, and Abdul Azeem Baig.

Students in Mississauga can take part in advance voting from October 5–6 at Mississauga Civic Centre, and October 13–14 at all community centres, and elementary and secondary schools in the Ward 8 area.

On Election Day, UTM students have access to various voting locations near campus. St. Mark Separate School, South Common Community Centre, Holy Name of Mary College School, Erindale Secondary School, Oakridge Public School, St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School, and St. Clare Separate School in Mississauga all offer polling booths close to their classrooms.