Wednesday, September 29, 2010



Of the 12 registered candidates, the following 9 showed up for the 8PM Wed Sept 29 debate:

Bailao, Ana
Beaulieu, Kevin
Carroll, Doug
de Jong, Frank
Le, Nha
MacDonald, Joe
Russell, Kirk
Vyas, Hema
Wood, Ken

Elmi, Abdirazak and Muhit, Mohammed and Teliatnik, Joanna did not attend.

Being given only 90 seconds for an introduction and 30 seconds for a close makes it pretty hard for a candidate to get all their platform in - but most did an admirable job.

Dale Goldhawk, the moderator, was his usual affable self - yet kept everyone on point.

Call in questions were about:

  • Lack of consultation in the ward by 'soon-to-be-former' incumbent Adam Giambrone, who was criticized for poor judgement and his related effect on his former campaign manager, executive assistant and current candidate Kevin Beaulieu. Some real fireworks here - and a coincidence? *

  • Ana Bailao's ties to the developers and support from outside the ward plus a demand for her to reveal donor list one week before the election was extended by Mr Goldhawk to everyone who promised a big unanimous YES.

  • What will candidates do about development in the ward, Dundas West parking mentioned

  • Who do each of the candidates support for Mayor. 4 answered Joe Pantalone, many avoided answering and I (Ken Wood) promised to post it on my website one week before the election. As Dale noted, it was a fair question for voters to ask.

In responding to questions, Joe MacDonald managed to do a bit of a pitbull attack on at least three competitors: Ana Bailao, Kevin Beaulieu and Hema Vyas for their ties to parties and the mistakes of the past, and for shopping around for a ward to run in (Hema lives in ward14 he pointed out).

I hope a lot of ward 18 voters tuned in because it was a great (if too short) one stop shopping for city councillor. Weblink for the show: If you are a Rogers subscriber you can see it online.

I may post more as I remember it and hope someone has live-streamed it or taped it)

* Coincidentally (Adam) Giambrone criticized for $15,000 TTC Promo Video as waste of taxpayers' money for self-aggrandizing: Video is here: This is the Toronto Sun article:

This raise two important questions:

1. "The $15,000 for the report and video - which was written with TTC staff input but generated by the chairman's office (Giambrone) - will come out of "various councillors' budgets" ? ... Which councillors? - the left wing Millerites? Why should it be out of councillors' local ward budgets? And why DOES this out of the ordinary report prominently figure Mr. Giambrone? - building name recognition for what?

2. "The councillor ... brushed off suggestions he was fact-checking the current mayoral candidates"... What give Mr Giambrone the right to in my view so blatantly campaign for Mr Pantalone's view of the TTC using city taxpayers' money?



Already there have been SIX opportunites for voters to meet the candidates running for election locally: May 18 (Casa Da Madeira, 1621 Dupont); June 23 (St. Anne's Parish Hall, 615 Dufferin); August 9 ("Meet and Greet" 55 Rankin Crescent); August 26 (drinks with the candidates at Boo Radley's, 1482 Dupont); September 13 (Active18 Theatre Centre, Queen/Dovercourt - only select candidates welcomed); September 27 (Concerned Parents of Ward 18, St. Anthony's School, ) - no audience showed up, event folded, see story:

Mayoral candidates also made a pit stop for a debate on September 13 at 90 Croatia.

Future debates:

  • Wednesday, September 29: Rogers Cable 10 live television debate 8:00pm-9:00pm moderated by Dale Goldhawk. Call in number (I think) is: 416 446 7090
  • Wednesday, October 6: Salvation Army basement hall, 789 Dovercourt Road 7:30pm-9:30pm Contact is
  • Thursday, October 14 6:30pm at 72 Perth Avenue just south of Bloor, Church of the Firstborn. Coordinator contact: South Perth and Sterling Road Residents' Association
  • Thursday, October 14: 9:00 am CHIN Radio interviews 100.7FM Organizer: Fatima Martins 647 203 3165
  • Saturday, October 16: Not a debate, but the annual YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) gathering at the Gladstone Hotel 11am-4pm Lots of community gathers here.

Not in our ward - but makes sense to know what's happening near us:

September 30 MAYOR DEBATE Toronto Community News 730-930 at 1095 Leslie (community bus provided see: )

October 5 Ward 19 The Garrison 1197 Dundas St W ?all day event? Brian Sharwood organizer contact

October 6 Ward17 1900 Davenport community dinner at 5pm, debate at 6pm with Jonah Schein, Tony Letra, Caesar Palacio Davenport Perth

If anyone wants to contact all 12 registered Ward 18 candidates directly:

As you can see by the manner of posting on this site, I really do believe in INCLUSIVENESS and when there is an opportunity for candidates to be seen by all voters - all candidates should be invited. It is a matter of basic respect for voters, because...


Tuesday, September 28, 2010



At this point in the running for election for City Councillor for Ward 18 Davenport, I have been contacted by the following lobby groups or news groups seeking to rate my worthiness for election for their specific causes:

  1. Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, Jutta Mason (Actually on the CELOS website: )
  2. Toronto Community News/InsideToronto asking who I support for mayor, amongst other things:
  3. ArtsVote Toronto
  4. Social Planning Toronto - The Poverty Pledge:
  5. McMaster University Political Science Department survey
  6. Toronto Environmental Alliance:
  7. OpenFile: Josh OKane (about Brockton Village)
  8. CP24 telephone poll person asking who I support for mayor (undecided)
  9. Dundas West BIA (about parking)
  10. Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations:
  11. Toronto Open Budget Inititiative:
  12. Public Transit Coalition: My Response is at:
  13. Toronnto Womens Alliance

There maybe more, but these are the ones I recall. I wonder if this is typical and like elections in the past - or are groups just getting more organized?

I really wonder whether the intent is decide and promote amongst their group who to vote for - or, who to go after once he/she gets elected and they don't follow up.

An interesting exercise in accountability at the very least.

... * Update: saw a tweet Sept 29 saying only Kevin, Hema and Joe completed a Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation survey (TCAT)

...* Update: I have now completed that survey I didn't initially receive it and wonder if all 12 candidates in the ward got it?

...* PROBLEM: Most of these groups seem to pick arbitrary times to send out surveys, ignoring the fact that we don't know all the names that will be on the ballots before September 10, 2pm when nominations closed. Thus a lot of candidates get forgotten or left out.



Today Sarah Thomson who was polling badly (7% ) behind Rob Ford, George Smitherman, Joe Pantalone and Rocco Rossi threw in the towel and urged people to vote for George Smitherman. (Ms. Thomson will still show up on the ballot but a vote for her would be wasted now - unless you want to show sympathy)
Now it seems the two media proclaimed FOUR frontrunners are Rob Ford with George Smitherman close behind. In other news, respected former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent has endorsed Joe Pantalone. Rocco Rossi is still - Rocco Rossi.

How did our "Diversity is Our Strength" Toronto end up with two old white (and rich) guys looking to be our mayor in 2010 (kind of like it was in the 50's)?

Image from the Better Ballots website:

There are still going to be 41 names on the ballot for Mayor come October 25th voting day. Despite numerous debates (50 now, 30 to go?), we never hear from any of the others in any key debates. City TV/CP24/CityPulse is certainly NOT what it used to be! It no longer represents the whole city and can no longer be proud of its stance on equity and equality. Other mainstream media has also been unhelpful in letting voters know about all the choice.

At least tomorrow night's Arts Debate will include one of the media-missed people: James di Fiore. WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 at Baillie Court The Art Gallery of Ontario debate from 6:00pm to 7:30pm (doors open at 5pm). "Toronto invests $18 per person per year in this sector" behind the $25 they seems to be asking for.

For me, I guess I am still uniformed. In 2001 a city study says the arts contribute $8-9 billion to our economy. I find that hard to believe but would like to know more about this study. I shall continue to educate myself. I am not with the extreme of those who call city support of artists "sugar coated welfare", but nor am I with the other extreme of let's give them everything they want.

The city's financial picture is unclear. I think it important to find out what money is in the kitty before committing it.

* Update: Still learning from the ever-knowledgeable HiMY SYeD, a candidate for Mayor who attended the first 10 person mayoral debate in Swansea tonight! William Peyton Hubbard? There IS hope for Toronto!


DEVELOPMENT - What does it really mean for residents?

Sitting in a Tim's coffee shop the other day, I got into a discussion of what the often mentioned topic of "Development" at debates really means, and how do we put it in words that really mean something to both voters who want to know what the real results will be and candidates who try to communicate platforms in a few punchy words that grab attention.

I realized many of us do not have the same understanding and it is one of those topics that sounds important and is a 'good' thing, but can be really messed up in practice.

So, being an internet type, I googled it:

Development: noun, 1. A significant event, occurence or change; 2. A fact, event or happening, especially one that changes a situation; 3. Act of improving by expanding or enlarging or refining; 4. A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage, especially to a more mature or advanced stage.

SUSTAINABLE Development: meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (In other words, don't screw up the future for our children)

While searching, I also came across this little tidbit from the last City Councillor election campaign from November 4, 2006 by Matthew Blackett of Spacing: It talks about Adam Giambrone's then campaign manager, Kevin Beaulieu responding to this poster from an irate business owner and shows how angry businesses can get at city interference...
Another candidate for councillor in this year's election, Ana Bailao, is the subject of some controversy as in the 2003 election, only 7 of her campaign donors lived in the ward and most of them from outside were in the construction and development industry( )

All of this begs the question:

Just what do candidates mean when they talk of development ?

Since I can only speak for myself, here is what I mean:

* Development WILL happen. It is a given. Change is what we do in our lives and in city building.

* Whether it is GOOD development or BAD development can only be decided upon by the people who have to live with that change. No expert planner, bureaucrat, politician or self-styled visionary can accurately decide what is good for others. People with lived experience outside our neighbourhoods cannot possibly know what is needed or wanted, and often can do more damage than good. This is why it is essential that early consultation happen - residents and business owners are told what is possibly going to happen, and then are given an opportunity to have significant input.

* This means the process must always include people in the area affected by the change.

In my view the kinds of development needed in ward 18 includes:

1. Maximizing the use of dormant lands and properties, like this one:

1006 College at Havelock
Abandoned since before 2003 -Yet we still have affordable housing issues and homelessness?
There are many more examples. Empty lots, land being slowwwwwly reclaimed from toxic conditions.

2. Small Business Renewal: There are sections within the ward that have been neglected for far too long. Some areas have BIA's that represent members well and are heard, others have sometimes been ignored (eg. Dundas BIA and parking). Some areas like right along College from the Dundas crossoverto Dufferin are in shoddy shape (no BIA there). We still see too many emty storefronts and they can't all be art galleries. People live in the area and need restaurants, support services and supply stores. That there are a lot of thrift stores and pawn shops speaks to the degree of low incomers and poverty in the area. Yet I worry about poor planning around GENTRIFICATION... another set of definitions:

to GENTRIFY - means making a neighbourhood conform to middle class aspirations; usually increases income for developers while decreasing family, culture and evicting low income groups; it raises the status of some at the expense of others; often starts with artists, ends with speculating developers.

3. We need to CONTROL development: This is the job of city and neighbourhood builders, which includes key roles of elected City Councillors and the Mayor. But these roles must only be the facilitators. Decisions on development directions must come from residents and business owners in the area. City bureaucrats whould contribute to the process, but not in any way direct or lead it.

These are my thoughts on DEVELOPMENT... something we should all be involved in because...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Concerned Parents Debate a Washout

A Lesson On the Importance of Informing Constituents ?

On September 17th all 12 candidates for city councillor received an email from the Concerned Parents of Ward 18 to attend a debate on Monday, September 27 at 130 Shanly Avenue, St. Anthony's Catholic School.

My understanding is that flyers were posted prominently in the area and notices were sent home with students to give to their parents. As more than a few people commented, relying on students to remember to pull the note out of their backpack and pass on to parents in a timely manner is rather 'iffy' at best. To my knowledge no notices were in the local community newspapers, which, again, not everyone gets or looks at that closely.

The result?

Only 8 of the 12 candidates showed up. Missing were Ana Bailao, Doug Carroll, Joanna Telitniak and Mohammed Muhit. Some of the candidates who did come had significant signage and literature, as well as campaign supporters.

Sadly - only perhaps 3 people not already connected with a campaign showed up: I asked for a show of hands. (even that might be stretching it, as when asked if they had questions, no one spoke up).

After a little 'what should we do?', some candidates started leaving and the exodus increased, with the 3 people leaving, likely in frustration, as well. I was the last to leave after chatting with the OpenFile reporter and went for coffee with my competitor, Kirk Russell, and a few others. We had a good discussion about the mayoral race and what's wrong with city hall :)

The OpenFile reporter, Josh OKane, did a story on this non-event.

What this all highlights is just how difficult it can be to communicate TO our residents and keepp everyone aware and involved in what is happening in the community. Not everyone is on the internet/twitter/facebook/etc. Not everyone will see (technically illegal) flyers on hydro poles and bus stops. Add to that that not everyone in our ward is fluent in English and we can see just what a big divide we must cross to ensure improved civic engagement.

* Side Note: There are those few people in our community who strive to distribute information flyers by translating them and delivering them and trying to get the 'word of mouth' grapevines going who we should all thank. (Jack and Virginia for example)

But still, this all highlights how we must build bridges across the communication gaps in our ward to fully inform, include and engage everyone - something close to my heart, because...



What St. Jamestown Teaches Us - and the Questions It Raises

Last Friday's (Sept 24) 6-alarm fire at 200 Wellesley Street, the Toronto Community Housing complex of St. Jamestown, has left over 1,200 people homeless. (Some say the figure is inaccurate and that as many as 1,700 lived there) Many of those are frail, senior citizens, disabled, suffering from mental illness or at least suffering the low income life of poverty. City emergency crews in the form of fire response and paramedics were on the scene quickly and had a very difficult time putting a fire out in an apartment bedroom on the 24th floor, rumoured to have been made worse by a hoarding individual who lived there. (Hoarding is a kind of addiction, often suffered by those on low income who gather goods others might consider trash and fill up their living spaces with the false comfort of consumerism).

HOWEVER - our city's overall response in such situations is lacking. Some have labelled the situation 'Toronto's Katrina' (in reference to mass flooding and poor official response to needy residents) - perhaps over-exaggerated, but it does put it in perspective. Displaced residents are being shuffled about in a patchwork of temporary housing and other supports, with much of the support coming from the community and not city hall.

For more background on this situation see:

  1. Where was our Mayor in such a significant tragedy and disaster? Providing leadership, comfort and reassurance was needed.
  2. Why was there not an efficient, coordinated response? We are a city of several millions, much of us living in densely packed vertical towers.
  3. Why was Toronto Community Housing (owned by the city) not proactive and prepared for such an eventuality? Fire officials say the 1968 building was up to code for that time, so had no sprinklers.So why was TCHC not active in taking measures to reduce the risk of fire there? Were there fire drills? Where was the plan for what has happened?
  4. Why don't we know the exact number of people living there? 1200 or 1700?
  5. Why does our city not have a master disaster plan that works?

I recall the problems the city had many years back when the 'Tent City' that had sprung up for the homeless by the lake was shut down. There was much chaos in trying to find places to put people the bulldozers had removed.

There is no excuse for our city not to be prepared for such situations. Services all over the city are disconnected and have their own 'mandate' or 'priorities' and are not properly coordinated. Toronto City Hall needs a PLAN to be ready for this in future. Surprises and disasters can happen anywhere, anytime and we must be ready... because...


Note: On Twitter the hastag #wellesleyfire has gathered comments and information. Mayoral candidate HiMY SYeD is organizing a fundraiser for this Thursday, September 30 - 519 Church Community Centre - 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Volunteers needed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT? School Boards, City, Province Not On the Same Page

We keep hearing this election that our city is in financial trouble... or not.
We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem... or not.
We have assets that the city should sell to get revenue... or not.

It's a confusing situation with extreme ideas being thrown out by desperate candidates wanting to make the news with the latest outrageous statements, at least in the race for mayor.
"Here's my great idea... yes it costs... but we'll just sell..(fill in the blank..Toronto Hydro, etc)."

What it does show is how truth gets distorted by personal persepective and the immediate and short term needs of those who might govern us. No one it seems is taking the longer view and realizing that the status quo in how we are governed needs to change to meet our far future needs.

Take the example of closing schools - like West Toronto, right across from where I live.

We have one taxpayer whose money goes to providing them - buildings, land, maintenance, staffing, etc. Yet who is in control? The Province ultimately, because education is a provincial responsibility. The Province allows for a democratically elected local ward government in the form of School Trustees who make up a board of control. That board is required by law to balance budgets and if it gets out of line, the Province can step in (and has) and does what it wants. Then we have the City, also under the control of the Province with seperate elected Councillors and Mayor. The Province has a lighter touch with city government, but still has the control and can punish or reward cities for meeting their agendas (just look at Transit funding issues).

In the real, physical world we still have the one taxpayer who finances the acquisition of land and infrastructure - like West Toronto. Yet, we have THREE governing bodies with an interest in the decisions that affect that single physical thing.

The Province wants to balance its budget and to get a good return on that thing.
The Scool Board wants to maximize use of schools, balance budgets and that means selling that thing.
The City wants to ensure that there is sufficient community space for increasing population densities and that means trying ti gain control of that thing.

THREE governments with different agendas competing for control of one thing.
... kind of like three hands in the one taxpayer's pocket in a way, isn't it?

Schools are unique. They are geographically and strategically placed in our communities so they are at the core of local neighbourhoods. They are built in such a way that they usually have significant green space surrounding a large, accessible structure that can accomodate large numbers of people. Often they are easily areached by public transit or are in walking distance to large residential areas. They are natural 'Community Hubs' as was the topic of a Social Planning conference that I attended just this past Friday.

Schools are extremely valuable assets that we must not misuse or dispose of without a tremendous amount of forethought - the kind that looks DECADES into the future and not just the next budget.

Despite the complexities of competing government powers and short term demands of budgets, we MUST save our schools for the children and communities of the future. All that is required is political will to change what we need to to make this happen. We owe it to our collective future.... because ...


Saturday, September 25, 2010



is how an excellent Inside Toronto editorial puts it:

In the 40+ Mayoral debates (40 more to come?), and the ongoing media coverage of that top level position, as well as some of the local councillor races, TRANSIT/TTC is always a top issue.

In our ward 18, it boils down to just two local things, in my view:

1. SERVICE: The Better Way is not as better as it used to be, for one main cause:
Heavy traffic/gridlock: Despite incumbent councillor Giambrone's claims of "traffic calming" and providing residential streets that are safe for cyclists and pedestrians, we still see our roads as "freeways for people outside the ward" (as candidate Frank de Jong put it so well at the first debate). This ongoing situation not only pollutes our environment, it dramatically slows and interferes with public transit. Inconsistent service - short turning streetcars, construction delays messing with schedules and routes and generally poor customer service is what people experience. I saw somewhere that 46% of us rely on transit to get to and from work, a pretty high percentage that shows ward 18 needs good transit.

2. COST: Given that one third of our ward lives on incomes of less that $30,000 a year and that there are many low incomers with far less, the $3 per ride fee is an impediment for many. If we want to free up our roads, get people out of their cars, encourage healthy cycling and allow citizens to connect with the rest of Toronto - we need an AFFORDABLE TTC. (It is strange that the TTC has opened the door to reduced monthly TTC passes for students in only certain post-secondary education, yet does nothing for those on low income, disabled. Value and devalue citizens, I guess?)

The whole transit debate from the high level view - the city-wide and regional view - is something that the next Mayor, the full city council , the province and the federal government need to be involved in, not to mention expert urban planners and highly skilled transit gurus. Truly a 'dizzying array' or participants.

In another story in The Villager, it puts things in perspective: Transit City is still a go; light rail along Sheppard by 2014; on Finch by 2019; along Eglinton by 2020; with a Scarborough Rapid Transit line by 2020. Things are proceeding, and all the noise we hear from mayoral candidates is just that. Nothing else approved or properly costed out.

In my view, candidates at local council levels should indicate their support generally of transit plans, but not be too specific. We need to remember that what is decided upon will be with us for decades and will involve a high cost, both in taxpayer dollars and construction disruption. Let's let the intelligent decisions evolve in the right forum. Subways or Light Rail? Underground freeways? Scrapping streetcars? This are big city-wide complicated issues that require rational debate after all the information is in. I get frustrated with the mayoral candidates who just throw numbers out without facts being checked. This is a bandwagon I don't want to jump on - and part of what makes it so hard for me to pick a mayor I would vote for.

IDEA: If we are really going to talk vision, how about researching and planning now for FREE TRANSIT within 25 years?

We need informed decisions, not desperate planning.... because...

* Update: TTC Chair Adam Giambrone back on YouTube video - this time its his TTC Chair video :
Report at: Lots of big plans without funding, it seems.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ana Bailao Leads By Following?

Ana Bailao Jumps on Platform Bandwagons - AFTER THE FACT

1. Dundas West BIA PARKING Issue:

See Open file story "Bailao Wants More Parking for Ward 18"

In my recollection, the taking away of parking from the Dundas West BIA happened a LONG time ago and has been a hot issue since. It was raised at the very first candidates' debate in the ward on May 18, when that BIA acknowledged that they had supported incumbent councillor Adam Giambrone but (like so many of us) had lost faith in him over time. Answering a question about what candidates would do about it if elected, Ana dodged the question, only saying that she knew they had lost 42% of their parking, that businesses had lost money and that it was difficult for people to stop and pickup cakes because they get tiocketed.

Why didn't Ana take the position then that she espouses now? Opening her campaign office in that area, with this Sept 18 announcement smacks of OPPORTUNISM in my view.

(To be fair, most candidates waffled a little on the question, Ken Wood (me) stated that the immediate solution is for the city to compensate businesses for the disruption; Kevin Beaulieu said we shouldn't punish streetcar riders; Hema Vyas agreed consultation was lacking; Kirk Russell said grants, a street festival, sidewalk improvements would help - but at least Kirk committed to restoring Dundas parking - put it on his website long ago.)

2. "Better Transit for your $3" issue:

Got the (hmmm... Hema Vyas' campaign colour?) - YELLOW - flyer proclaiming Ana will improve transit and give 'the best service'.

In it, Ana promises no more St. Clair boondoggles...push for federal/provincial fair share funding...go with the PRESTO fare system (of course! Ana IS a Liberal!)...Bring back street parking on lanes...electric trains...environment friendly vehicles... In short - everything everybody's been saying for a long, long time. Kind of like motherhood and apple pie now, isn't it?

Well I guess Ana's feeling safe that she's the frontrunner now and will only risk committing to things everyone else has already. Doesn't that tell the voters how she will stand up for us in city council? Act only when others have already agreed?

I don't really know Ana personally, and I am left with relying on many of the same past experiences. A party loyalist who acts after the fact, and joins the herd rather than leads.

EVery time I tyhink of Ana the phrase 'Ana the Opportunist' comes to mind.

Voters: please choose wisely. ONE VOTE, ONE FUTURE.
Make sure its the future you want..... because....

Davenport Deserves Better !

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's the ARTS stupid!

When Artists Attack ...

I knew this was coming. A year and a half ago I was at City Hall making a deputation about animal/pet bylaws with about 100+ other people making deputations. At least 90 per cent of the deputants were a well-organized city-wide lobby group demanding that the city fund the arts with substantial grants.

My plea was for the city to reconsider its tax grab of demanding licences for cats, since my analysis based on city information showed that the taxes raised would just about cover the cost of bylaw officers enforcing the licencing bylaw, with no money actually going to help the terrible ongoing stray/abandoned pet overpopulation crisis. Essentially, the city was raising money to build a bigger bureaucracy. I can recall being frustrated with city resistance to dropping a tax grab and suggested the city not hire more pet cops and 'give the money to the starving artists instead' since at least it would do some real good. (applause and laughter) surveyed all candidates for election with a heavily biased survey that seemed somewhat extortionary to me. "I am an Artist. I Vote" is the slogan. It was clear that the arts community would brook no disagreement that the arts demand more funding and fashioned individual questions in such a way that anyone who wanted to be in power better say the right things - or else.

And so the tweets and announcements begin with acquiescing candidates toeing the line...

"Thrilled to receive 4/4 stars from ArtsVote #ward18 benefits from large community of working artists" - Kevin Beaulieu (NDP Executive Assistant to incumbent Adam Giambrone - endorsed by community activist/artist Dyan Marie, incumbent councillors Adam Giambrone, Gord Perks, Adam Vaughan)

Also getting 4 stars were:

  1. Ana Bailao (Liberal/Mario Silva's former Executive Assistant)
  2. Hema Vyas (self-proclaimed independent and Culturelink guru)
  3. Frank de Jong (Green Party environmentalist)

Not completing the survey for ward 18 were: Doug Carroll, Abdirazak Elmi, Nha Le, Joe MacDonald, Mohammed Muhit, Kirk Russell, Joanna Telitniak.

Perhaps I should have done the 'smart political game thing' and said what voters wanted to hear or just not even responded to the survey (as it seems most candidates chose). But I have a different standard: I believe in answering all surveys and questions, taking the risk that honesty is what voters really want to hear. I've long been tired of hearing spin-doctored politically correct vagueness from politicians, and vow that I won't do that.

My score? Not surprisingly: ONE star - which I hasten to point out is because the individual questions were pretty much all or nothing answers.

I am still not convinced (but willing to be) that taxpayer money en masse to artists helps anyone except the artists themseves. I admit to being not as informed as I'd like on this issue, as I am in favour of meaningful community grants to local groups that demonstrably improve the quality of life in our ward. A previous idea I posted about the use of councillor office budgets (current status: councillors can give taxpayer money to vote-friendly groups as they choose):

* Lets transfer money from Councillor office budgets to a city run local grants budget that everyone can apply to. It could be a simple lottery or a well thought out procedure where points are used to award grants where neighbourhoods would see the most 'bang for the buck' and would be fair to everyone.

Another site where the Arts debate is being held:

MAYORAL ARTS DEBATE will be held Wednesday, September 29 from 6-9pm at the Art Gallery of Ontario Baillie Court 317 Dundas Street West. Moderator: John Tory with the "Major Mayoral Candidates"... congratulations to the organizers for trying to include one of the other 36 candidates! Over 4,000 people voted and (so far *) chose Keith Cole over James di Fiore and HiMY SYeD.

* Note: Highlighting the questionable veracity of online polling, the ArtsVote site says there was some funny business going on with the survey responses so a second round of voting will happen on Friday September 24 from 4-8pm.

Sadly, I regret not being able to attend this as Rogers Cable 10 has scheduled their live ward candidates debate for us that same time. One question I hope gets asked is this:

How do you see the arts contributing to real solutions for poverty-hunger-homelessness in our city, and please refrain from telling us how this helps the 'starving artists' ?
* Update: Ontario provincial government coughs up additional $27 million over next 3 years to non-profit groups as operating funds...
Interesting reader comments on this.... with hydro going up why spend $ on arts...why should govts be allowed to spend $ on charities - if art is not good enough to support itself why is my money being taken to do so...why are arts more important than helping low income people or seniors...this is the type of investment you don't get a return on..."sugar coated welfare for artists" - you can see the anger out there. Arts lobby need to answer these questions.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Differences in Candidates - How to spot the marketing

Anyone wonder what works for candidates who play the "political game" well?
How do different candidates - essentially different people - with different experiences, skills, education, and agendas accentuate the positive and hide what could be negative?

It's not just that the twelve candidates running for your city councillor in ward 18 ARE different, it is how they show that difference that will help them get elected - or not - that tells you the voter who they really are.

My take on the standard presentations of candidates, which all answer the basic voter question: WHY SHOULD I VOTE FOR YOU ?

1. I AM SMART: This is the candidate who over and over and over pummels the voter with essentially a long resume that lists all the degrees, certifications, courses and accreditations they may have. Tries to equate 'book smarts' with 'street smarts'.

2. I AM EXPERIENCED: This is the candidate who fashions their pitch to show that they have essentially already done the job or more. Piecing together a career job history that tries to demonstrate that they have essentially all the necessary skills to be in the elected position, even if they haven't been.

3. I AM POPULAR : This is the candidate who lists all the people who already like them and think they are 'Number One'. The endorsements prominently show glowing testimonials, photos and testimonials from important people, or people whom you should think are important. Such people may be from elsewhere in the city or from specific small lobby groups, and not local, but that shouldn't matter, because after all they are important.

4. I AM POWERFUL : A variation on the 'I Am Popular", this tactic tries to show that the candidate is already well-connected with a network of powerful friends and/or has some kind of 'insider edge'. This might be the candidate who claims to have the ear or affection of backroom kingmakers or movers and shakers in the bureaucracy. A favourite of incumbents who say "I know how to get things done".

5. I AM REAL : This is the candidate that tries to present themselves as being genuine, the 'real deal, plainspoken and straightforward, 'what-you-see-is-what-you-get'. Often speaks of gut reaction, honest responses, has character, integrity, not your 'usual politician'.

Different voters will be attracted to the different emphasis candidates place on these top five claims. Who wins on election day will depend on what the voters want, as always. 'Voters always get the government they deserve'

Please be an informed voters and weigh carefully all your choices, because....


Sunday, September 19, 2010


So how DO voters choose their votes?

With so many choices in many wards and for mayor, just how do voters compare them and pick the one they want? Exactly what process can a voter use to come to a selection?

An Inside Toronto article by Tim Foran, 'Too Many Candidates Spoil the Ballot' got me thinking about this. Paraphrasing some of the points here: Some people only register but don't actually campaign or have an intention to get elected; there are an average of 4 names per school trustee ballot in wards across the city in ward 18... 4 people registered at the last moment to challenge Maria Rodrugues for TDSB); races for councillor and mayor tend to get more cluttered; races at the local level don't get much mainstream media coverage, leaving voters uninformed: "There'll be a lot of guessing and stabbing in the dark", so says Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto.)

As something of a political geek, I've followed many elections, been involved in some as a volunteer campaigner, and had the extraordinary opportunity to work in elections at all levels as a Poll Clerk, Deputy Returning Officer, and some other senior positions. As an election officer, I've even had people asking me who they should vote for! (Can't do that - absolute neutrality is a job requirement for that day).

My take on how voters typically select their vote, and especially for this election:

1. Getting Even: "Keeping fear alive, as Stephen Colbert puts it means stoking voters' worst instincts: Politicians are corrupt,. They waste your money. They don't listen. They don't care" (Christopher Hume, urban issues reporter in The Star: ). There are many articles detailing how angry voters are with incumbents. Mad about too many taxes, user fees, mishandled garbage strike, suburbia anger against downtown and their perception they are forgetoon and their taxes go elsewhere... hence Rob Ford's popularity. Despite the fact whoever they vote for will impact their lives, many Torontonians just want to express ANGER...yet, I agree with former mayor David Crombie... "anger is a very bad emotion to build a city on..." It will be interesting to see if anger fuels voter turnout - last election in this ward saw only 35% of eligible voters actually doing so.

2. Name Recognition: Nelson Wiseman said: "They (ignorant or confused voters) will normally select a name they recognise..." It may be ONLY that with no knowledge of who the candidate really is. They may even have just seen an election sign or remember a campaign flyer or even some reference in news stories (good or bad doesn't matter). This is why (until this weird year) incumbents have always had a great advantage. This is why those that can afford it deluge people with snazzy multi-colour brochures, offer free hot dogs at community events and try to be seen everywhere and identified with every cause, culture or concern. If you have the money, you can buy the recognition. (That said, there are those who earn it with their deeds, not their pocketbook).

3. AFFINITY: Humans are still tribal. We are attracted to those who are - or seem to be - like us. Nelson Wiseman also goes on to say (about confused or ignorant voters), that " ... they will go for a name that triggers something more positive in them, such as they might think the ethnicity (of a candidate) is the same as theirs." Many voters will guess that certain sounding name might be strong or reliable or friendly or kind.... or whatever they wished they had for their political respresentative. Voters who guess like this do themselves a dissrevice, as it means they are not informed about the issues or options or substance of candidates. I would include in this category Partisan Party Labels : many voters will just choose the party label, usually Liberal or NDP in this ward. (I can remember in previous elections, the husband telling the wife, "They said we need to pick the Liberal... which one is that?"

4. BANDWAGON : Everyone want to be seen as making the right choices, or at the very least, sharing blame for bad choices. If the polls tell you 'everyone else is going to choose this'... a last resort is to make that choice and hope to hell everyone else was right. Remember mothers telling kids things like 'So, if everyone else is going to jump off a bridge, does that measn you should too?' That's what polls do for us. I personally believe polls are bad for democracy and there should be a law forbidding them for at least three weeks before voting day. Polls are usfel for candidates to gauge the effectiveness of their getting the message out, but are not good when they are allowed to influence voters.

5. ONE ISSUE VOTER: Many voters will have that one burning issue that is all they care about... my garbage is still not being picked up...they took away my parking...we do/don't want community gardens...all I care about is too much crime... etc. Maybe they heard candidate X doesn't/didn't care and candidate Y promises to put things back the way they were and candidate Z wants to hear more but is open to doing what they want. So the decision of who gets the power (for the HUNDREDS of other issues that will come up for years) is made on one small snippet of time and concern. Maybe the voter wins what they want on that one issue, but next election will he/she be upset about other things that happened?... and do it all again.

6. INFORMED VOTER : Best choice in my view. Reads/watches all the news, goes to candidate debates and asks tough questions, looks at all campaigns and literature with a critical, analytic eye, actually meets the candidate and looks him/her in the eye, judges that CHARACTER and integrity and honesty is more important than where they may be on few issues. Thinks ahead, looks for vision and ideas and flexibility.

7. NON-VOTER : Worst choice in my view. A voter who comforts himself/herself that 'all politicians are crooks' and pats themselves on the back whenever something goes wrong later, saying 'Well, I didn't vote for THAT one!"... actually YOU DID ! By ducking your civic duty to help run this city... your city... you permitted that screwup to get in. It is common knowledge amongst experienced campaigners that it is not about getting the most votes out of the whole pie - it is about getting your votes out and not the competition's.... and relying on the angry, uninformed, unengaged voter to not mess things up by participating - or by punishing your incumbent-related opponent by not voting.

We need INFORMED VOTERS this election more than ever..... because

Davenport Deserves Better !

Saturday, September 18, 2010



The Toronto Working Group on Poverty sent out an email call to all candidates in all wards to show their commitment to make a serious effort to address the alarming increase of poverty in our city. Backgrounders on poverty can be dound at the Social Planning Toronto website: and details on the pledge can be found by emailing: if you did not receive it.

Some facts:

  • Toronto is the second largest city in Canada in terms of economic productivity and growth
  • ONE in FOUR = 25% of Toronto residents live in poverty (StatsCan LICO)
  • Poverty rates are especially high for: recent immigrants (46%); aboriginal people (37%); single mothers (37%); people of colour (33%) and seniors (21%). Poverty in family groups is 21% in Toronto, the second highest in Canada.
  • The gap between rich and poor is growing. Average incomes are dropping. cost of living, rents, food, etc is rising. You can see that everywhere.
  • Poverty leads to poor health, social exclusion, suicides

I also know from personal experience that non-profit charity food banks are struggling terribly. Demand is skyrocketing and donations are dropping as more and more of us face financial stresses. We have hungry people everywhere - they are just invisible except in the lineups at local food banks all over the city. This is a key indicator of poverty. Check out information at The Daily Bread Food Bank:

We need to be talking about poverty NOW. If we don't address the issues facing our neighbours, our friends and families - what is government good for? City building and city administration is NOT just about taxes and dollars.... it is about caring for fellow human beings.

We all need to stand up and speak out on this issue.... because:


* Update: "Food Drive in Davenport" story Inside Toronto

* Update: Hamilton is doing what Toronto should:


"... anger is a very bad emotion to build a city on" (David Crombie, former Toronto Mayor)


50 Mayoral Debates so Far? 40 to go? So far we have: angry voters plus 'front-runner' candidates jumping on bandwagons to be popular at all costs (It's time to stop bashing the city, look ahead and be positive says a Maytree opinion piece: )

Former mayors discuss quality of debate, in Globe and Mail: ) audio and print

I hear from so many people that they are still undecided or wish their were better candidates running for Mayor. I would bet that 90% of voters don't realize there are 41 choices for Mayor, some of them with great ideas (HiMY SYeD is one). However our mainstream media have hammered over and over that we Torontonians have only 5 choices.

As voters, we all really need to seek out information on our own to find the hidden gems of policies and ideas, and question both candidates and our media about them.

There is a mayoral debate happening September 29th. You can go to ArtsVote at to vote for a new voice at thise mayoral debates.

Some of MY (Ken Wood's) thoughts on Mayoral leadership and vision issues for our city:

  1. Amalgamation hurt our neighbourhoods - but we are stuck with it now. It has NOT saved us money, as promised by Mike Harris. We need to find a way to regain our local neighbourhood identities and control. (I am intrigued by mayoral candidate Himy Syed's idea of having 4 deputy mayors responsible for ensuring we pay more attention to regions). The needs of the suburbs are not the same needs as downtown, for example. There is a constant push-pull on councillors to think city-wide and to think local. One novel suggestion I have made is that the TTC Chair be a separate elected position, requiring the unique transit skills set to pay full attention to this major portfolio.
  2. Cutting council size from 44 to 22 is a mistake. Right now each councillor is responsible for about 50,000 people. That is a lot, especially considering the level of detailed issues that is handled at city level. It is often said that the level of government that most directly affects our lives is local government.
  3. Diversity Needs Attention! "Diversity is Our Strength" is Toronto's motto. Politicians talk the talk on diversity, but as a city we do not walk the walk. It is not just a matter that there are not more faces of colour/culture on city council, it is that the big city is not reaching our very diverse population. There are about 180 languages spoken in Toronto, yet the city (except for the great 311 initiative) does a poor job of reaching out to its citizens whose first language is not English. We first need to find better ways to communicate TO and hear FROM our neighbours who are new immigrants. Equally important is finding ways to INVOLVE new immigrants and our diverse population - and I am talking about involvement in power structures, not just acknowledging their cultures.
  4. Poverty/Homelessness/Hunger: We still see these social ills everywhere, and although there has been some progress, we should not sit on our laurels and assume enough has been done. Where is the leadership (or attention!) on this ! ... Note: I regret having missed a mayoral debate on this "Building a Fairer Toronto for All" at Innis town hall Sept 15, reported in the Toronto Observer: It is clear to me the current crop of 5 media-chosen contenders haven't a clue here. I guess it takes the lived experience of poverty to realize this. I can be the "Poor People's Councillor" but where is the "Poor People's Mayor" ?
  5. Turf Wars: There is an enormous disconnect between School Boards and City Council. Lots of PUBLIC resouces available (like schools, land) but due to archaic constitutional issues there is a separation of powers between education and municipal government. It is not good enough for mayoral leaders (or councillors) to duck the issue as "oh that's provincial". Anything can be changed, given political will. There is only one taxpayer - school land, facilities belong to all of us. Let's use them wisely.
One former mayor said (paraphrasing):

Elections are about CHARACTER.
How can we know we can trust that person with the keys to the shop?

We really all do need to do our homework on finding out who has the character to lead... because:


Friday, September 17, 2010


Mayor Miller Campaigns for NDP Kevin Beaulieu in Ward 18 Davenport

I just returned from Dufferin subway station where Mayor David Miller took it upon himself to blatantly sell incumbent NDPer Adam Giambrone's former Executive Assistant (and also an NDPer endorsed as well by others of the leftist persuasion on city council), Kevin Beaulieu, as THE choice for voters here.

You might say, "What's wrong with that? A citizen can endorse anyone he pleases" ... as Mr. Miller said to me.

Three things:

1. Yes, that's true, but Mayor Miller IS THE MAYOR and not an ordinary citizen, at least for a while. He doesn't even know who is running in the ward (there are 12). He told me he didn't know I was running. I asked him not for an endorsement but if he would contribute to my campaign.... He said he'd look into my platform. I take strong exception to an outsider telling us who to vote for, especially someone with the weight of the Mayor's office. This is a LOCAL race, not the Mayoral race. David had his chance for that.

2. I witnessed David hopping on and off TTC buses waving Beaulieu's campaign literature greeting the 'folks' as MAYOR and telling them to vote Kevin, all the while waving campaign literature. This is expressly against Toronto Transit Commission Bylaw 1, subsection 3.16: No person shall a) display, offer, distribute or place handbills, signs or notices or any form of written or printed matter on or in TTC property without authorization. This is also a contravention of city election laws and I shall be filing a formal complaint.

3. Mayor Miller's judgement in backing Adam Giambrone, as well as Adam Giambrone's judgement while in office - and his continuing the legacy of "passing the torch" to his endorsed candidate Kevin speaks volumes. We had a 'tin ear' councillor who was selectively deaf to local issues. How do we know we're not getting another? Especially since Kevin was inexplicably quiet and let David take all the heat for his interfence in the local ward race.

... * side note: Mr Miller spoke to me telling me how rude it was "to interfere in someone else's campaign" ... I responded by reminding him that he didn't much appreciate the provincial government getting involved in the city election a while back. How is this different? Power from on high exerting muscle in a local race?

I want to be very clear here. I am not attacking Kevin (except perhaps for his silence and strange behaviour: his signs are in blue and white, traditional conservative/Rob Ford colours, yet he is as orange NDP as they come)... I resent power brokers like Miller interfering in local democracy. Frankly, I don't care who voters choose, as long as they know there are 12 people running and that they can make their own mind up. Respect the voters, sir and BUTT OUT !

* Update: CBC late night TV news had a short clip - me shouting "Who the hell do you think you are throwing your weight around here!" (there was much more substance not covered, but I guess TV goes for the drama, as always). Wonder why CBC neglected to identify me as a candidate - or do they have a bias?

Also interviewed much later from the safety of her campaign office * on Dundas West, candidate Ana Bailao says: "There's a LOT of people not happy with what's happened here over the last seven years. So with those people it certainly won't help him"... CBC called Ana Kevin's "main rival".... Thanks CBC for trashing the TEN others also running and making up the minds of ward 18 voters! ( * I saw Ana there but she ran away as soon as there was any confrontation. Was she just hoping to be seen with the Mayor too? Is this what we can expect at city council if she gets elected ? )

CBC news says Ana "doesn't mind him calling in a little extra support" referring to Miller using his office to promote Kevin.... ummm.... Ana? You think it is okay for power brokers from outside our ward to tell our residents what to do? Is it because you have the same complications with your support? I really want to know.

We don't need advice from you, Mr. Miller.... because:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dundas West BIA and Parking Issue

This is How a Councillor You Elect Can Hurt You

I walked the Dundas West parts of ward 18 today and saw again what Adam Giambrone's TTC ambitions have done to local constituents. Through an appalling lack of consultation (like Lansdowne Avenue narrowing), he forced through changes that hurt residents and businesses.

Most of us know - or should - that parking was removed in both instances. On Lansdowne - it was in the name of "traffic calming" - never realized. On Dundas West , it was to speed up transit TTC and reduce gridlock. The result there is plain to see: during rush hours, gridlock no savings in time; off peak hours, close calls for pedestrians avoiding speeding cars and TTC...

* side note: Anyone notice yet how many pedestrian close calls and accidents we have because of TTC related incidents?

Another real cost has been to the businesses along the Dundas West BIA. What was touted as a 'pilot project' no one wanted became permanent. Businesses suffered - and are STILL suffering. I spoke with business owners and staff who said the effect of taking away parking ranged from 'I lost my house' to 'it bites'.

PARKING ON DUNDAS WEST was a big issue at the start of this campaign and before, and will continue to be a hot issue button right up to and after election day (Oct 25). Inside Toronto community news agrees:

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman today promises to compensate businesses for construction delays (refers to the Roncessvalles mess, St Clair TTC?) ... yet that does not go far enough. If the city through lack of consultation and proper planning neglects to take into account the impact on businesses, they should be on the hook for losses they cause. Wonder if Smitherman or any candidates will go that far?

It is certainly something that needs much more consultation, no matter what!

My take on this? What do we do?

  1. Plain and simple: The city MUST compensate business owners for loss of business for the period past. No ifs, ands or buts
  2. The TTC Chair should be an elected and SEPARATE position from local councillor. It is to me an obvious conflict of interest when one person looks after city-wide transitr issues and (supposedly) his local ward issues. Advantages, besides what I just said? Getting a transit-savvy set of skills going into the job and enhancing city-wide transit as an important vision (most of our city budget).
  3. Remedy the parking situation in Dundas West with city Green P parking lot (probably a structure too). Roads are for moving, yet we need compromise.

*** Update: September 20th Ana Bailao announce she is making parking a campaign issue. (Kind of late isn't it?)

And, as always, as most of us candidates are saying: CONSULTATION...CONSULTATION...CONSULTATION !

because..... Davenport Deserves Better

Learning a Lesson

Attacks and Counter-Attacks

There is an interesting back and forth commentary going on that is something every candidate and voter should pay attention to in ward 18. It involves showing raw and unedited just how what kind of person a candidate is and what it's like to run as a candidate for political office.

That person in this case is me.

The location of this commentary is at two sites in particular:
What it shows is how a voter and a candidate interact when there is such fundamental difference in political views. It shows how running for political office means candidates not only put out for all to see their views, ideas and concerns - but also their flaws, weaknesses and strengths. It shows how this world of online anonymity can mean anyone can take pot shots at people without fearing consequences. It shows how real, gut-level reactions can get you in trouble or 'score you points'.

The lesson I learned - and probably will keep learning - is that I can no longer respond like a 'normal person'., at least while running for political office or holding it. I cannot look at what I say as affecting only me and the person I say it to. I cannot assume what occurs will only have consequences to that limited transaction, but may affect many others. I must channel my response in a fashion that neither ignores the situation before me, nor inflames it with unintended consequences. This is a lesson, incidentally, that I see even politicians with many years' experience still struggling with. All you have to do is watch any city council session!

Another lesson: Just by running as an idependent does not give you any 'get out of jail free' card. Just because you don't belong to a label of NDP, Liberal, Conservative, Green or whatever... this doesn't mean you have don't some base set of ideologies and a clear set of beliefs and values. The positives of independents is that they are not overtly beholden to any organization that could demand they put the needs of the label before the needs of the voters. Independents don't have to rise and vote yes or no as a 'Miller-left' group or 'Ford-Minnan-Wong' group at council.

Yet, independents - just as much as party-labelled councillors, must still be a voice for ALL the constituents. Whoever is elected must represent EVERYONE, whether they voted for them or not.

ELECTION LAWS - What Candidates Can and Cannot Do

Election Signs - always contentious in every election I have ever seen. Some try to post where they are not allowed (public property, on trees, etc), some try to post too early (July 27 okay for campaign office, Oct 4 for elsewhere). Some wards and elections have seen signs vandalized or stolen. Some believe the number of signs erected equals support for that candidate (even when many will erect a sign because they are being polite, still aren't sure if they will vote - or even if they WILL vote). On election day, many try to sneak them as close or onto election polling stations as they can. Name recognition and colour code recognition counts.

They are costly. First candidates have to pay the city a $250 deposit (where fine money will come from first, kind of like the now illegal landlord's 'damage deposit'). Then you have the cost of getting them done....

* Side story here: The moment I registered, I was flooded with emails from Councillor Howard Moscoe or his wife? Gloria to buy signs from them. I'm pretty sure this happened even when only the city had my private information. Aside from obvious conflict of interest and questions about privacy of data I give the city, I was suprised to be so inundated. For lowest price weatherboard signs at a minimum 500 quantity order = $2.08 for 2 colour, $3.03 each for 3 colour. Hmmmm.... around a $1,500 commitment including taxes and stuff...No wonder some candidates choose only 2 colour, like Kevin Beaulieu's BLUE/WHITE combination (? Hey. I thought ORANGE was for NDP? Then again, maybe jumping on a conservative Ford-like colour is good strategy).

I've already seen people on twitter complaining about election signs. Guess it will continue until everyone knows and abides by the rules.

FYI If you have a complaint about election signs, you can register it with the city by calling 311 or by emailing them at: They need complainant's name and contact, candidate sign name, location, details, etc or they will ignore complaints.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Conflicting Debates: Local and Mayoral

Why Can't I Be In Two Places At Once ?

Active18 set a so-called "All Candidates Debate" for today Sept 13 Monday 6-8pm ... so-called as they preferred to only allow 8 of the 12 duly registered candidates to actually debate at Queen West and Dovercourt. I was told I could ask my 'questions' .. at the end of the debate. Seeing that I was shut out, I decided to go to the Mayoral Debate instead (probably the right decision). Hope there will be a story so I can learn what residents' concerns were...
*** UPDATE: Toronto Observer covered it -
and NOW makes their bioased slant on it:

Mayoral Debate set for today Sept 13 Monday 6:30pm-9:00pm at 90 Croatia (near Dufferin Mall). There was a crowd of about 200 ... 100 if you took out the candidates' cheerleaders. Surprising of the 'usual suspects' of five media-labelled frontrunners, George Smitherman did not appear and was represented by an empty chair. The other, of course, were:
Rob Ford, Joe Pantalone, Sarah Thomson and Rocco Rossi. The moderator was the unbiased (sorry, didn't see that) Sue Ann Levy from The Toronto Sun.

Organizers point out that debate in honour of former City TV reporter Tara Weber who left Toronto for the friendlier wheelchair accessible city of Calgary See:

Nothing we haven't heard before in the candidates' introductory speeches, except Rocco Rossi went out of his way to compliment Sue Ann Levy for being "the official opposition" for city council. A dig at Rob Ford ?

Some (FINALLY !) new questions were asked:

* BEDBUGS : Mary Milne of Bread and Bricks Davenport West Social Justice Group asked what they will do about this growing city wide problem. I heard...Pantalone: would ask for provincial help; Thomson: Will do something, suggests non profits better at helping, blames TCHC for not being diligent; Rossi: Quick to blame Ford, Pantalone for not already having done something; Ford: TCHC should have put out private tender to get fixed, if left up to tenants they won't do it. Really got the sense none knew what they were talking about, especially as they all tried to duck the question by saying it wasn't a health risk - though Ford said he'd leave it up to Dr. McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. Disappointing deflections from all.

* ELECTRIC TRAINS : Mike Sullivan, National Spokesperson for the Clean Train Coalition, stated that the public has made it abundantly clear that they demand electric trains along the Georgetown corridor for both GO Transit and the Air Rail link, asked how candidates would work to make that a reality. I heard... Thomson: is a centrist and thinks it important to build good relations at provincial and federal level, said being heard in the Provincial elections is what people should do; Rossi: ? Talked about the need to remove politicians from TTC operations and put in a skills based board (did he hear the question?); Ford: All in favour of electric but wants to know the cost first, not clear what it would be (followed by attacks from others that he should know already?); Pantalone: Pointed out Metrolinx is not TTC and is not elected or accountable and this is wrong, said we should never sacrifice public health for public dollars; Thomson: Chastized Rossi for not knowing clean electric trains is not the TTC, yet went on to talk about fare systems on the TTC ? (Presto vs open fare)... followed by more sniping at each other. Not a clear answer here either.

* AFFORDABLE HOUSING : Chrissy D., and Marcelo Castro of Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre asked if candidates would increase targets for more affordable housing and would advocate for more federal funding. .. I heard...Pantalone: praised Streets to Homes program (then bashed about shelter costs by Ford); Ford: There is housing on the market looking for tenants right now, why do we need shelters, help people find housing in the market. Thomson: Concerned about creating pockets of poverty, her solution is a portable rent subsidy, not so dissimilar to Ford; Rossi: not sure what he answered as I got a call I had to take. Got the impression no clear answers here either.

* ? Boys and Girls Club Dovercourt was to ask a planned questions but no one there to ask it... moving on...

SUE ANN LEVY exercised her status as (ubiased) moderator to bring up one of her long time pet peeves: Who will ban aggressive panhandling and clean up the streets?
I heard... Rossi: supports ban; Ford: Supports ban, make addicts go to rehab, get meds for mental illness, make them get a job; Pantalone: Praised Streets to Homes program again, pointed out that Supreme Court says its not illegal to ask people for money; Thomson: Talked about couch surfing when young, then because she was attacked by aggressive panhandler at 25 she supports ban. Except for Pantalone, not much compassion to be had here.

Audience questions:

1. (Me) I expressed my disdain for mayoral candidates who spend a lot of time trying to tear each other down, and asked why any of the other mayoral candidates aren't at debates with their ideas, especially since we've heard the same things over and over from the 'front 5'.
Ford: says he is open to it, will write letter to agree, pointed out the one debate with Rocco Achampong was a good one; Pantalone: dismissed the idea saying there are 41 candidates running, would take too long; Thomson: says she is for inclusion, would agree, pointed out HiMY SYeD perhaps should be invited; Rossi: SPoke of how polls decide on the froint runners (I couldn't resist saying 'Polls are not Votes'. On rebuttals, Ford mused that perhaps groups of debates could be arranged to hear from other mayoral candidates.

2. CLOSING SCHOOLS, USE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES: Theme of question was that since schools are public taxpayer funded, why can't hey be turned over to local communit for other public purposes - mentioned West Toronto and Kent. All candidates took great pains to point out that this was a provincial responsibility and that it was in the purview of SChool Trustees and the Province. Pantalone: Went further to say that perhaps schools should be transferred to cities at discounts instead of the current must be at market value.

3. There were other questions, but sometimes difficult to hear all answers because of microphones cutting in and out. To be fair I didn't get a complete sense of all candidates replies so I won't post just some.

4. Wheelchair Accesibility: Candidates were asked to commit to making Toronto more wheelchair accesible and all said Yes.

5. CYCLING, BIKE LANES: To great applause in this cycling friendly ward, candidates were asked what they were going to do to make more complete bike access, particularly protected from cars and vice versa.... I heard...Ford: What the local people want they get, can see that downtowners want lanes, but noy in the suburbs; Pantalone: praised bike lanes initiatives, University, Jarvis (for which he got attacked on disputed costs by others), spoke of BIXI initiative; Thomson: need a balance where it makes sense, spoke of "complete streets"; Rossi: I was getting a little fatigued herte so don't know if I got this right... he went on about building a tunnel to complete the Spadina Expressway ?

Think I'll stop now as I'm getting punchy about remembering who said what. No doubt mainstream media will report. Good night.

PS: I saw Kirk Russell, also a candidate for ward18 at this debate. He felt strongly we should all see what the mayoral candidates are up to, and regretted that Active18 scheduled their debate at the same time. I agree.

Photo from the Big on Bloor Festival, Rocco Rossi, Himy Syed and Ken Wood
discussing issues of poverty in ward 18:

Here is an Inside Toronto community news story on this debate:

and here is local Dufferin Grove/CELOS story:

Un-Incumbents Gather

Underdog Candidates Cheer Each Other On

So says The Star: about the event organized by Mayoral candidate HiMY SYeD at the Dovercourt Baptist Church on Dufferin and Bloor Street West today.

Held from 11am to 1pm, it was admittedly a little hard to attend for all those candidates running in wards in which there was no incumbent councillor running, but it was timely for the media who were able to get their stories at a good time.

At official close of nominations Friday, Sept 10, 2:00pm: There are 41 candidates running for Mayor and 279 candidates for City Councillor across Toronto's 44 wards. According to political watcher and ideas promoter, Dave Meslin, there are 8 wards with no incumbents.

Whatever the result of this October 25th vote, THERE WILL BE CHANGE at City Hall of an unprecedented fashion.

Not only did I get to meet some candidates from other areas of my city (like Bruce Baker running in Ward 32 Beaches-East York and 22 year old William Molls running in Ward 22 St. Paul's) as well as chatting with fellow competitors for ward 18 (Ana Bailao and Hema Vyas), I was able to learn about some great social networking tools that will help my neighbours and I know who stands for what in this election (see below for links).

Thanks to HiMY SYeD, who has a Facebook page at: , for his civic-mindedness in providing a great forum for those of us who dare to challenge and advocate change at City Hall.

Social Networking Resources:

TORONTOPEDIA : Learn about your city, get answers

WIKIPEDIA: Toronto City Council Election, 2010,_2010 Ward races