Yesterday, within hours of the Ontario Superior Court Justice's decision in favour of my motion to oppose Bill 5, Doug Ford took the unprecedented step of threatening to use the Notwithstanding Clause. This unprecedented move would effectively override the judge's ruling and allow Doug Ford to change Toronto's election.
I believe reasonable people can debate exactly how many wards Toronto should have, and how we’d like to improve city hall. I personally think that’s a thoughtful and important public discussion worth having. My concerns about city council, and how it’s made some of its decisions, are well known.
However, when the Premier hastily announced that he was introducing legislation to cancel our city’s municipal election halfway through, and completely change the ward boundaries without any public consultation, erasing a 4-year expert-driven process, it created chaos and confusion for voters, which isn’t healthy for our democracy.
Yesterday's move was an even more reckless action against the basic charter rights of Torontonians. Even more troubling was Ford's assertion in his press conference that he would not hesitate to use this charter override (which is conventionally understood to only be used in the most extreme circumstances and has never been used in Ontario) in other cases where the courts ruled against his legislation.
The judicial branch is a critical piece of Canadian democracy. The courts provide a check on a government's power to infringe on our rights.
Despite what Premier Ford said yesterday, elections do not provide a mandate for a dictatorship every 4 years. Norms such as consultation, public hearings, and protection of individual freedoms are pillars of a functioning society. Doug Ford has disregarded decades of convention that have made Ontario, and Canada, one of the best places in the world to live. As Canadians, we value living in a stable and peaceful democracy. Moreover, rather than focusing on actual pressing priorities like jobs, the economy and improving infrastructure, Premier Ford has chosen to engage in destabilizing behavior and petty score-settling with city council.
Unfortunately, the emerging expert consensus is that there does not seem to be any recourse available to the City if a majority of MPPs support Ford. That means our only hope of stopping this attack on our democracy is to get enough members of his majority government to vote against the Bill. He has recalled the legislature for a special legislative session starting tomorrow to deal with this issue. Please call or email the Conservative MPPs on this list and let them know that trampling on our rights and freedoms is not acceptable.
While I will keep fighting for our democracy and hoping for the best, I pragmatically have to prepare for every eventuality. It now appears likely that the upcoming election will be contested in only 25 Wards. I am therefore officially announcing my candidacy to represent you as your city councillor for Toronto-St. Pauls (Ward 12).
Toronto-St.Paul’s (click here for the map) will encompass an area that roughly extends from Mount Pleasant on the east to Dufferin on the west, Eglinton on the north and the CP railway track on the southern boundary.
To the residents of Davisville village east of Mount Pleasant, due to Premier Ford’s redistricting, you will now be voters in Don Valley West in the upcoming municipal election. On a deeply personal note, losing the privilege of serving you is heartbreaking. We are neighbors and friends. We’ve been through so much together, and I will never stop looking out for your best interests.
Along with other candidates, I’ll be opposed by an incumbent city councillor who has been in office for nearly 30 years. I expect this will be the most challenging election I’ve ever experienced. I’m going to need your help to win this campaign more than ever before.
Regardless of the competition, I won’t be running our campaign against an opponent. I’m running for the privilege of continuing to work for you, our community, and our city.
I'm running to ensure that necessary infrastructure and social services are in place to support a high quality of life in our growing community. To continue improving, and creating new park and open spaces. To continue supporting an engaged and vibrant community with farmers markets, movie nights in the park, pumpkin parades and more. To deliver a new recreation centre, and support the TDSB to create school space. To advocate for affordable childcare, services for seniors to support our rapidly aging population and every measure possible to make our streets and neighborhoods safe.
I'm running to continue fighting for evidence-based transit. To ensure that the Relief Subway Line is built as soon as possible, and to implement single-fare, rapid bus service on Mt. Pleasant and Avenue Rd. in the short-term, to ease overcrowding on the Yonge line. To continue fighting for rapid transit network that supports Scarborough residents instead of a 1-stop subway that supports politicians.
I'm running to continue fighting for renters as the Chair of the Tenants Issues Committee. To implement the RentSafe program we worked so hard to get approved by Council, and to continue challenging unfair rent increases to make your life more affordable.
I’m running to continue the work I do on your behalf. I’ve created an office that I hope you find to be hardworking, caring, thoughtful, creative, responsible and responsive. My focus each and every day is, and always will be, on the priorities that matter most to you and your neighbours.
I’m running to bring a voice of reason to City Hall where every decision should be made based on facts, evidence and always be in the best interests of the residents of Toronto.
I would be very grateful if you would visit my campaign website to join me at my official Campaign Launch and Fundraiser this Wednesday, September 12, from 6-9 pm, where I look forward to discussing with you how we can keep our community and city moving forward.