- Toronto’s mayoral race kicked into high gear with candidates participating in three debates, the first of which grabbed national headlines – not for its discussion on top-of-mind city issues, but as a result of far-right candidate Faith Goldy, who had been excluded from the debate, briefly interrupting proceedings by storming the stage.
- A second debate saw John Tory, Jennifer Keesmaat, Sarah Climenhaga and Saron Gebresellassi spar over housing affordability, transit and crime reduction, engaging in a particularly fiery back-and-forth on the topic of Toronto’s gun violence.
- In a third debate, Keesmaat, Climenhaga and Gebresellassi squared off on the city’s transit issues. Keesmaat and Climenhaga made arguments for the need to deliver inter-municipal fare coordination between the TTC and Metrolinx, while Gebresellassi added that she would like to see the low-income pass “extended universally.”
- Following the provincial government’s announcement of its intent to institute rules for public marijuana consumption that closely mirror those applied to tobacco, Tory mused that it was time to consider looser rules for public alcohol consumption – music to the ears of those craving a civilized alcoholic beverage while enjoying Toronto’s parks.
- Tory and Keesmaat both took advantage of pleasant weekend weather to make high profile pitches to voters.
- Keesmaat, holding a press event under the towering Gardiner Expressway vowed to overturn the divisive decision to rebuild the eastern portion of the city-owned elevated highway. Under her proposal, the existing structure would be torn down and a “grand boulevard” built in its place, with an estimated $500 million in savings re-dedicated for transit.
- In open letter to the province, Tory revived his commitment (and that of Council) to call on the Ontario Government to make necessary legislative changes to allow Toronto Community Housing to ban tenants previously evicted for serious criminal activity. It’s an issue near-and-dear to Premier Ford and his base, and a widely-supported opportunity for the Mayor to demonstrate his focus on getting tougher on crime.
Each week, Counsel will be previewing the local City Council races as candidates across the city hustle for votes as they seek to be elected in one of Toronto’s 25 new wards.
Today, we look at the six wards encompassing much of midtown Toronto and North York. These ridings represent the city’s most politically-centrist areas and are an important part of Mayor John Tory’s political base. Maintaining support of these voters will be key to his re-election. He will also be aiming to maintain a strong cadre of allies on Council.
Ward 8 – Eglinton-Lawrence
- Josh Colle (Ward 17) [not seeking re-election]
- Christin Carmichael-Greb (Ward 16)
- Christin Carmichael-Greb (incumbent)
- Mike Colle (former Ontario Liberal Minister & MPP)
- Jennifer Arp (TDSB Trustee)
Christine Carmichael-Greb, a single-term incumbent, is facing a tough battle for re-election. Her leading opponent is Mike Colle, a local institution in both municipal and provincial politics, who is seeking the seat after having been narrowly defeated in the June provincial election (and whose son Josh is the retiring incumbent). With the Eglinton LRT set to open in the next few years, the implications of expanded transit will be top-of-mind for many voters who have seen significant redevelopment in recent years with more poised in the years ahead.
Ward 12 – Toronto-St. Paul’s
- Joe Mihevc (Ward 21)
- Josh Matlow (Ward 22)
- Joe Mihevc (incumbent)
- Josh Matlow (incumbent)
The Ontario Government’s decision to consolidate the number of Toronto City Council wards from 47 to 25 inevitably led to a number of marquee showdowns between long-standing councillors. Ward 12 is certainly in the front rank, with incumbents Joe Mihevc and Josh Matlow going head-to-head. Mihevc, one of Toronto’s longest-serving Councillors, is the most threatened member of Council’s left-of-centre bloc and will be drawing on support from a deep network of support locally and across the city. Matlow in turn has built an independent brand on Council that has earned respect in the local community while occasionally frustrating fellow councillors. This will be one of the races to watch and a “turnout game” in the truest sense.
Ward 15 – Don Valley West
- Jaye Robinson (Ward 25)
- Jon Burnside (Ward 26)
- Jaye Robinson (incumbent)
- Jon Burnside (incumbent)
Another one of election day’s headliners, Ward 15 is probably John Tory’s least favourite council race. Both incumbents, Jaye Robinson and Jon Burnside, serve on the Mayor’s Executive Committee and are seeking re-election in the combined ward. With little daylight between the two on local presence and voting records, it may come down to intangibles. Robinson has a slight edge in name recognition, having served one term longer than Burnside. Nevertheless, Burnside has beaten the odds before — his 2014 victory over John Parker was the only instance when an incumbent went down to defeat in the last election. It may come down to simple geography: more of Robinson’s former ward is included in the new boundaries than Burnside’s.
Ward 16 – Don Valley East
- Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34)
- Denzil Minnan-Wong (incumbent)
- Stephen Ksiazek
Incumbent Denzil Minnan-Wong may have been disappointed to come up short in his effort to unseat incumbent Ontario Liberal MPP Michael Coteau in June, but he should have no trouble retaining his seat on City Council this October. With most of neighbouring ex-Ward 33 included in the new Ward 17 (Don Valley North), Minnan-Wong is the only incumbent in the race for the new ward. That’s welcome news to the Deputy Mayor after a tough provincial campaign, who is expected to cruise to re-election. Although he faces a well-funded challenger in Stephen Ksiazek (whose blue blimp hovering next to the DVP has puzzled many commuters), Minnan-Wong is nevertheless expected to cruise to re-election.
Ward 17 – Don Valley North
- Shelley Carroll (Ward 33)
- Shelley Carroll (incumbent)
- Ken Lister (TDSB Trustee)
When long-time incumbent Shelley Carroll resigned her seat on Toronto City Council earlier this year to run for the Ontario Legislature, it was in hopes of representing Don Valley North as a Liberal MPP. With that effort falling short after the Ontario Liberal Party was decimated in the provincial election, she is now seeking to represent Don Valley North as a councillor once again. She’s the automatic front-runner, although candidates like TDSB trustee Ken Lister are attempting a challenge. With the ward having recently elected a PC Party MPP, some candidates are jockeying to ride the provincial party’s coattails, with not one but two (Steven Chen and Christina Liu) claiming the endorsement of MPP Vincent Ke.
Ward 18 – Willowdale
- David Shiner (Ward 23)
- John Filion (Ward 24)
- John Filion (incumbent);
- Norm Gardner (ex-Councillor);
- Sonny Cho (President, Canada Korea Business Council);
- Gerald Mak (TDSB Trustee);
- David Mousavi (2014 runner-up, Ward 23);
- Lily Cheng (community activist)
For months, a “will-they-won’t-they” saga played out for both of Willowdale’s incumbent councillors, David Shiner and John Filion. The result was a split decision, with Shiner opting for a late retirement, while Filion reversed course and backed away from a planned retirement to seek another term. He’s drawn a host of strong challengers for the combined Willowdale ward, but a splintered opposition should play to the long-time incumbent’s benefit.
Quotes of the Week
“Dead in the water, it’s so hilarious you say that. You know what this is? This is the provincial approval for the six new transit stations in the City of Toronto signed by the Province of Ontario today… that is moving this project forward, which is what I’ve been doing for four years, and it’s moving forward every single day. That is a piece of paper that proves it today.”
Sept. 25, 2018
On the provincial funding agreement signed by the Government of Ontario for SmartTrack, in response to Jennifer Keesmaat criticisms of Tory’s SmartTrack plan.
“Toronto has the worst congestion times on the continent. After four years of Mr. Tory, what we’ve seen is that we have longer commute times, we have more dangerous streets in this city. Instead of embracing Vision 0 and aiming to… get rid of road deaths… John Tory set an unambitious target of merely reducing road deaths in the city by 20%. That is simply not acceptable.”
Sept. 25, 2018
On congestion and road safety.