Thursday, March 20, 2014

John Tory: The Clear & Credible Choice for Mayor of Toronto

Before moving to York Region in the 1970's, I was born and raised in Toronto. My parents had a small dressmaking shop on St. Clair Avenue. My friends and I took the "red rocket" streetcar, the buses and the subway to places throughout the City. When school was out for the summer, the TTC was truly the better way. No matter what time of day, you could always rely on the subway to get you to where you wanted to go. Having to wait for a second or third train because of overcrowding was unheard of, and system breakdowns were rare.

In my parent's shop, I met people from all walks of life. Good people with amazing stories about their connection to Toronto. Tales of sacrifice, hard work, and the trials and tribulations of starting a new life in Toronto were common. Equally common were the stories of those who were 2nd and 3rd generation Torontonians, and their pleasant experiences of growing up in the city. Regardless of their challenges, people always smiled. There was never talk of being on the "left" or on the "right." Whoever you were, you were first and foremost "Torontonian" and fiercely proud of it. We were widely known as "Toronto the Good."

Going back to 1993, who can forget the bottom of the ninth inning during that memorable "Game 6," when Joe Carter calmly stepped up to the plate, took a swing, and hit a three-home run crowning the Toronto Blue jays the 1993 World Series champions. I couldn't explain the euphoria that came over me that day and how profoundly proud I was of the city of my birth.

As long as I can remember, I've always had a deep passion for politics. On the first day of my "Introduction to Political Science" course at York University, Professor Harold Kaplan's words inspired me to pursue my passion for the rest of my life.  A passion that always drove me to do whatever I could to ensure the right people were elected to public office.

Throughout my career as an assistant to a Member of Parliament, as a chief of staff to a great Mayor and as CEO of an independent public affairs practice, I had the privilege of working with outstanding elected officials. Great leaders who inspired excellence and set outstanding examples for others to follow. They knew that the office they held was bigger than themselves and they had a duty to leave it in better shape than when they first occupied it. And, they clearly knew their obligation to unite their people; to represent all their constituents and not just elites and special interests.

Last night, I attended the kick-off of John Tory's campaign to be the next Mayor of Toronto. The Polish Combatant's Hall on Beverley Street was packed with people from all walks of life including a large contingent of young and old. His message "TOgether, we can get things done" was perfect. He spoke eloquently, confidently and with the spirit of leader, a uniter, and a city builder. Humble and with a great sense of humour and purpose,  he spoke the words, "I am not perfect, but, unlike some others, I am not content with that." Right on.

And then came the message I wanted to hear, "Toronto needs a move. Not a move to the left or to the right, but forward." Boom!

John Tory's vision for a the city is credible and clear: A more liveable, more affordable and a more functional Toronto.

The people of Toronto have a clear choice this October 27th. Continue to be the laughing stock of the world, return to reckless tax increases, waste and  "entitled" special interests, or move Toronto forward together as the liveable, affordable and functional world-class city that it deserves to be. John Tory is the only one who can deliver that vision. TOgether, lets make it happen!

Photo by Steve Paikan @spaikan

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Build The Toronto Downtown Subway Relief Line Now!

First proposed 29 years ago, the Downtown Relief Line project needs to start now. Any delays, waffling or talk of "eventually" is simply reckless. More here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Olivia Chow lived in subsidized housing and a sick campaign strategy

According to legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. On this St. Patrick's Day and in the months ahead leading up to election day, it's time we drove some snakes out of the Toronto mayoralty race.

Sue-Anne Levy of the Toronto Sun has written an excellent piece that can only lead to the conclusion Olivia Chow indeed lived in subsidized housing and moved out after the media reported it. Royson James of the Toronto Star has also written a great column that leads to the same conclusion.

Past indiscretions of political candidates and journalists reporting on those indiscretions are nothing new. In most cases, the candidate admits their shortcoming, then the electorate and the media hold them rightly accountable. In Rob Ford's case, the media held him, and continues to hold him, accountable for his mistakes. Life moves on.

However, the current Toronto mayoralty race has taken an ugly and sinister turn. Rather than Olivia Chow admitting she made a bad choice many years ago, her campaign team appears to have adopted a strategy whereby anyone, including journalists, who raises the issue of Chow's subsidized housing past is to be relentlessly attacked, ridiculed, threatened with legal action, mocked and ultimately bullied into silence. One of the Chow camp's tools to carry out this profoundly disingenuous strategy, appears to be the use a gang of anonymous Twitter users who quickly pounce on anyone who raises the issue and bully them into silence.

Chow's subsidized housing past may or may not be an issue to the Toronto voter on election day. However, in order to make an informed choice, voters deserve to know the truth about the candidates. They will decide whether the truth is relevant or not. Olivia Chow is neither "untouchable" nor entitled to enhanced protection measures from her past.  And, bullies have no place in this mayoralty race. It's time to drive them out.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields...
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!