Canada's Scarborough East (Ward 43) city council candidates speak

Saturday, November 4, 2006

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Scarborough—Agincourt (Ward 39, 40)
Scarborough East (Ward 43, 44)
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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward's councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto's ridings is Scarborough East (Ward 43). One candidates responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include Paul Ainslie, Amarjeet Chhabra, Mujeeb Khan, Glenn Kitchen, John Laforet, Abdul Patel, Jim Robb, and Kumar Sethi.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Glenn Kitchen

54-year-old Glenn Kitchen has been a carpenter for 30 years.

Q: Describe the three most important issues in your campaign?

A: Our Youth: Our youth cannot suffer another cut to their educational programs. The results of the cutbacks to after school programs are showing their negative effects. If our youth do not have positive activities to participate in, they are more likely to be involved in negative activities. We need to re-introduce and re-open after school programs that have been closed. After school programs need to be run by staff and councillors who will act as positive role models and help our youth to find their way to positive choices. Our youth deserve better than what this city is currently providing them with.
Public Transit: Public transit in this ward is either non-existent or very limited. Navigating through this community is very difficult, and in many cases means numerous transfers. Scarborough has been given the short end of the transit line too many times. People in Scarborough want to travel within their community; they need to go grocery shopping, to go to work, to take their children to school. TTC needs to recognize these needs and work with Scarborough to create a more extensive route system to service people in this community.
Garbage: As the city of Toronto grows, the amount of waste we produce also grows. Looking into the future, we cannot rely on the methods we have used in the past. We must create new and innovative ways to deal with our waste. We must look at the waste as a resource, using every recyclable product to preserve materials that can be re-used. In order to be effective we must require all residents to contribute to an extensive and responsible recycling system. All houses, apartments, condominiums, as well as, commercial residents can participate and help lower our garbage levels. We must work as a team to ensure that we are being responsible with our waste.

Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?

A: Our Youth. As new families move into this community, they are bringing their young children. The children in this community now, will be our youth in the future and we must help them to grow into positive members of the community. As I stated earlier, youth need positive activities, not just a basketball court or field, with no councillors. Our children need leaders, coaches, and role models to mentor them. The children need clubs for homework, reading, chess, music, dance, and sports. Our children are the future of this area and we must help them grow to be positive members of society.

Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?

A: Since childhood, politics have been a big part of my life. My parents were believers in the political process, and encouraged our involvement. Voting was always emphasized and modeled in our household. In a family with seven boys, the democratic process was always modeled in our home.
In the last decade I have felt discouraged by the lack of accountability in politics, and the lack of regard for the needs of the voters. Learning from my childhood the value of the democratic process, I feel we need to speak out to preserve it. The Toronto municipal government has made many irresponsible decisions that have affected the residents of Toronto. Transit development should have been done in areas where there are current riders, not future riders. Scarborough is in dire need of extensions of TTC services, and new routes. Our youth need stronger leaders to look up to, and they need to be engaged. Our current municipal government is not doing enough to ensure they have services available to them. The political process must serve the people who it affects the most, and I feel it is my duty as a resident to get involved to ensure this takes place.

Q: Why do you want to represent this particular ward on council?

A: I want to represent this ward, because I live here. I am familiar with the communities, including problems and strengths. I believe in the concept of local representation and I do not agree with politicians who run in any area, simply to be elected. If you live here, you understand the community. At this level of government it is important that the politician walks the same street as the people they represent, and get your hands dirty in the same dirt. This ward is my home and I want to make it feel like home for everyone in this ward.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: I am involved in the community in the most important way, I engage with my neighbours. I am always ready and willing to help my friends and neighbours with problems they may have. I have always been willing to lend my hand or skill to people who need help. As councillor, I feel I would be able to help more people than I am able to now.
I am currently also involved with the Scarborough General Hospital, in order to Save the Scarborough Grace unit. I feel this is important because if this hospital is closed to the general admissions the public at large will suffer. Community based preventative care will be phased out and the risk of community illness will increase. This unit will then redirect its basic and emergency care to the general division and the overcrowded conditions will continue to grow.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: Toronto is where I was born and raised and has always been my home. I feel Toronto gave me a colourful childhood full of great experiences. I learned to swim in the water, explore in the forests, I was educated here, and started my family here. This city has provided me with pride in my accomplishments, including my involvement in the building of landmarks such as the Sky Dome, the Eaton Centre, the Reference Library and retrofit of Osgoode Hall. Above all, Toronto has shown me the value of community and I would like to show this to its residents.

Q: Which council decision do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of? Which was the least desirable?

A: The council of 2003 made many decisions but the most favourable was to end the use of pesticides for cosmetic use on lawns. This was a step forward for the protection of the environment. While people thought it would mean jobs lost, I have not seen this occur. Furthermore, it has meant the return of birds and wildlife. In fact I have seen chipmunks, rabbits and deer in growing numbers. I have seen more butterflies and insects that do not harm but are a product of a healthy earth.
The least desirable was the elimination of open bidding on TTC subway car replacement contracts. As in all bidding processes, the lowest is not always the winning bid. I would have voted in favour of the Canadian workers, because I feel it is important to support our economy. However, I feel that bidding is an important part of the process.
Additionally, The lack of action on the Guild Inn has been disappointing, because the potential is there for the Guild Inn to be an important part of Toronto again.

Q: If you were elected as a "rookie" councillor, what would you bring to council?

A: I would not refer to a new councillor as a rookie, but a new way of looking at the issues, new set of values, and a new perspective. As a new councillor I would bring an open window, so people could have a sense of accountability. I would foster communication between Scarborough and City Hall, which has been lacking for many years. I would propose community ventures that are thought of by the residents, for the residents. I would propose new ways for the community to become involved with city hall, including Saturday and evening meetings, to ensure that working citizens are able to participate. I would also propose innovative ways to involve the public, utilizing new technologies. The political process requires the involvement of the public and I would strive to strengthen that involvement.