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Memo to the leaders: here are the mayors' priorities
In this edition: the mayors share their priorities, platforms dropped, Elman on why he's running in DVW, Liberal nomination troubles, Tory candidates face off
It’s Friday the 13th. Welcome to POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy and power. If you’re counting: the province-wide leaders’ debate is 3 sleeps away.
In this 10 minute read, we asked some of Ontario’s mayors about their priorities in this election. Nomination woes hit the Liberals — three candidates out in a week. Platform drops. Education unions ramp up endorsements. A look at the first official Tory leadership debate. Plus, Irwin Elman on why he’s running for the NDP in DVW.
Ontario’s mayors are making their priorities loud and clear as we get into the thick of the campaign. With the party chiefs set to go head-to-head on Monday for a televised leaders’ debate, we asked some of Ontario’s mayors about their top priorities in this election. Here’s what we heard:
Toronto Mayor John Tory sent a letter to the party chiefs with his top priorities. Tory — who hopes to hear back in two weeks — highlighted his five major asks:
Supporting the HousingTO action plan and providing $48 million annually in ongoing operating funding for supportive housing beginning next year.
Provide the municipality — in collab with Ottawa — with relief funding to cover the remaining $875 million COVID-19 operating budget impacts.
Completing the four priority transit lines including the $11-billion Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown.
Working with the city on the SafeTO Plan — and possibly provide funding assistance to the city.
Creating a “more robust provincial mental health care system.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said her priorities are “housing affordability, public transit, funding for cities and support for our local economy are Mississauga’s priorities. These must also be the priorities of our next provincial government.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson had one major ask of the leaders and local candidates — “does your party commit to negotiating with the City regarding funding 50 per cent of Ottawa’s Stage 3 LRT project?”
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said the city’s priorities remain the critical projects it is part of with the province — including reinstating daily GO service to and from Niagara and opening the South Niagara Site of Niagara Health. Diodati is also looking for the opening of the Entertainment Centre with OLG and an international university in our downtown core.
Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie listed his top priorities in a statement — including the renewing of the provincial infrastructure funding framework and delivering on interregional transportation. He also highlighted the need to ensure “housing affordability and attainability by working to increase supply while respecting local decision-making” and address “brownfield remediation with funding to unlock city managed sites for affordable housing and commercial opportunities.”
Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s priorities include “a long-term, stable, allocation-based, infrastructure funding framework” and “a commitment to working together with municipalities and the federal government on innovative solutions and partnerships to increase attainable housing options for residents.”
Meed Ward says investment in broadband internet and increased funding for health care and hospital beds are part of her priorities.
Week one of the election campaign has ended. Here is what you need to know about the past week:
Platform drop — Liberals and Greens unveil their plan
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca unveiled his long-awaited costed platform on Monday. The document — which includes $16.4 billion in new spending — forecasts a deficit of $19.9 billion for this fiscal year (as was proposed in the PC budget). Front-and-center was a plan for buck-a-ride and a handgun ban.
The party is promising to build half-a-million new homes and reinstate rent control. “We’ll end the two-tiered rental market, bringing back rent control to all rental homes across Ontario,” the red blueprint reads.
Green Party chief Mike Schreiner launched a 64-page fully costed-platform yesterday. The party's plan focuses on six key priorities — including housing and the “new climate economy.” The green blueprint is proposing to cut carbon pollution “in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2045,” by spending $17 billion.
The party is promising to rebrand Dr. Kieran Moore’s position — designating “the Chief Medical Officer of Health as an independent officer of the Legislature in a watchdog role.” A commitment to launch an "independent public inquiry" into the province’s pandemic response is in the plan.
On education: The party is pledging to cancel EQAO and cap class sizes for grades 4 to 8 and kindergarten. The party is no longer promising an end to public funding for Catholic schools — it’s a longstanding promise that is being dropped over pandemic learning disruption.
The deadline for candidate registration has passed. We have a final tally — with four parties running a full slate of candidates and one falling short:
NDP: 124 candidates
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE: 124 candidates
GREEN PARTY: 124 candidates
NEW BLUE: 124 candidates
LIBERAL: 122 candidates
Liberal nomination woes — three candidates dropped
Nomination troubles hit the Grits — the party dropped three candidates in three days over previous comments and views uncovered.
Aidan Kallioinen — a high schooler from Sault Ste. Marie — was dropped as the Liberal candidate in the riding over “inappropriate comments in an online gaming forum.” Parry Sound-Muskoka candidate Barry Stanley was fired after the Toronto Star uncovered a self-published book baselessly claiming “that homosexuality is caused by infants ‘rebreathing’ their own air shortly after birth.” Alec Mazurek was removed as the party’s Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate over comments made on social media.
“We were very clear in our statement that Steven Del Duca and the Ontario Liberal Party will not accept any candidates who have a track record of bigotry or homophobia. We would expect that every party takes a similar stance,” party spokesperson Andrea Ernesaks said in a statement to newsBeyond.
Liam Hancock — who was seeking the party's nomination in Etobicoke-Lakeshore — will run in the PC-held riding. The party will also have Audrey Rahn Festeryga rep them in Chatham Kent–Leamington, as we scooped.
We took the question of how rigorous the party’s vetting process is to the party chief. “I will say that in some cases this week, there was information that came to light that was not disclosed to our party. Some of the candidates who are no longer running explained that they didn't disclose these things. I believe that our process has been rigorous. Like any other process we have in the party, we will modernize and update as we go through this,” Del Duca said.
On the polling
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE: 37.1% (-0.1)
LIBERAL: 28.6% (—)
NDP: 23.8% (-0.5)
GREEN PARTY: 4.9% (-0.2)
OTHER: 5.6% (+0.9)
The change since POLICORNER’s previous edition is represented in the bracket.
WHY THEY’RE RUNNING
He was Ontario’s Child Advocate. Now he’s hoping to paint Don Valley West — Kathleen Wynne territory — orange.
Irwin Elman says he is running to “create and influence change.” “One of the things I wanted to do is to ensure that people in this riding — who are not normally heard in an election — are heard,” he told newsBeyond in an interview.
“I'm thinking of people who I've already engaged with. They spoke about what they wanted and needed. They had a space in the election and I'll continue to run my campaign that way. That's why I think elections are important.”
Elman is carrying the orange banner in a riding that has never voted NDP. The idea of entering politics was previously discussed — he was approached by the federal party about throwing his hat into national politics but decided not to. Elman was later approached by the party and decided to run because “the party’s foundations align with my goals for the province and the riding.”
The star NDP candidate says he chose to run provincially because he “understands the province.” “I understand how both Liberal and Conservative governments have operated from inside. Something needed to change,” he said. His big goal is to “elevate the voices of people not usually heard and counter the ideology of the current government.” “I’ve seen it up close. It’s ugly,” he said.
Elman was fired by the Ford government at the start of its mandate after an 11-year tenure as Ontario’s Child Advocate. “I get a call from one of my staff asking if I heard that they’re closing our office,” he recounted. Elman recalls that he tried calling then-Minister Lisa MacLeod but could not reach her.
“I get a call back from the Minister's chief of staff at 11:30 AM. He told me that they’ll be tabling an Omnibus bill and repealing the act that created the office,” he explained. “You had a nice little runner,” Elman says he was told.
Losing the job wasn’t the reason he decided to run — but a motivating factor. “I didn't think that it was very democratic that you repeal an act that was passed unanimously by the Legislature in an omnibus bill and then don't have any debate about it. It was just another example of the way in which politics was being done.”
“If you'll notice in my campaign, I don't ever talk about this because I don't actually want the campaign to be about that. That was done. The government had the right to do it. I don't quibble with that. What I think about is that how things are done as is important and has as much consequence as what is done,” he said.
What issues are on the top of mind for voters in DVW? Elman says he’s heard a lot about housing affordability from his community. “That goes across class. People in Leaside worry about trying to make their mortgage. If I go to Thorncliffe Park, people are concerned about not being able to eat because they’re saving for rent. Housing is really something I hear about all the time.”
Elman — who will face two other star-candidates (financial executive Stephanie Bowman for the Liberals and former Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders for the PCs) says he’s been reaching out to them. “Are we heavyweight candidates with lots of experience and skills to bring to the table. Yeah. I think that is exciting. It should mean that more eyes are on us.”
Elman’s final thoughts: “I want to see change. I can't change the world. I can't wave a wand and fix all the buildings in Thorncliffe. I can't build housing tomorrow. I cannot. My mom said you have to remember that. But you also have to remember you're not exempt from trying. And that's what I believe. It's why I'm running. It's how I'm running. And it's what I'll do after I win as an MPP.”
POLICORNER will feature a local candidate running in the election each week. Check out the first installation — featuring Liberal candidate Jill Promoli — here.
First reported in POLICORNER: OSSTF — the union representing secondary school education staff — has endorsed a slate of NDP and Liberal candidates ahead of the June election. It is one of the unions that will endorse “education-friendly candidates on a riding-by-riding basis” instead of one party in this election. Catch up on our scoop here.
The second provincial leaders’ debate is on Monday. The four major party leaders will face off in a debate from the TVO Broadcast Centre in Toronto. Steve Paikin of The Agenda and Althia Raj of the Toronto Star will moderate the debate starting at 6:30 PM. We’ll have all the highlights in next week’s newsletter and keep an eye on our Twitter over the weekend for our leaders’ debate challenge.
Ontario's NDP uncovered at least two PC MPPs who pocketed top-ups from their riding association. The party said Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod and Associate Digital Government Minister Kaleed Rasheed took $44,000 and $23,000 from their riding associations. Global News reported of at least eight MPPs who received an MPP allowance. “All riding association expenses are approved by the local riding association executive, audited by a licensed auditor, and all audited financial statements are reviewed and approved by Elections Ontario,” party spokesperson Ivana Yelich said in a statement to newsBeyond.
The first official Conservative leadership debate was held in Edmonton on Wednesday. The six approved candidates took to the stage for a debate centered around inflation, abortion and a no-fly zone in Ukraine. The biggest headline of the debate: a pledge from Pierre Poilievre to replace the governor of the Bank of Canada. Watch the debate here:
High-profile PC candidate Stephen Lecce is under hot water after PressProgress reported that he participated in a “slave auction” during his time as a fraternity leader at Western University. “The event from 2006 was inappropriate and in no way reflects who I am as a person, which is why I unreservedly apologize,” Lecce said in a statement. “We are calling on him to withdraw as a candidate for office,” three NDP candidates said.
WHAT WE’RE READING
TORONTO STAR: “Doug Ford can bring crib notes to a TV debate. His rivals say they don’t need them” by Robert Benzie
CBC NEWS: “How Justin Trudeau's people arranged his whirlwind visit to a Ukraine at war” by Katie Simpson
GLOBAL NEWS: “Gen. Jonathan Vance stripped of Order of Military Merit after guilty plea, discharge” by Sean Boynto
NEW YORK TIMES: “Trailblazing Palestinian Journalist Killed in West Bank” by Raja Abdulrahim and Ben Hubbard
In last week’s newsletter, we asked for the name of the person who said: “Here's the thing: we know that during the pandemic, ridership on both provincial and municipal transit systems has dropped. We understand that we can't leave these numbers as low as they are.” That would be Liberal leader Steven Del Duca — he was announcing his party’s promise for time-limited reduced transit fares.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Who were the moderators of the 2018 provincial leaders’ debate. Bonus points if you can tell us where the debate was help. Know the answer? Send it to email@example.com or reply to this email.
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