Canada's Toronto—Danforth (Ward 30) city council candidates speak

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Etobicoke North (Ward 1)
Etobicoke Centre (Ward 3, 4)
Etobicoke—Lakeshore (Ward 5)
York West (Ward 7, 8)
Parkdale—High Park (Ward 13, 14)
Eglinton—Lawrence (Ward 16)
Davenport (Ward 17, 18)
Trinity—Spadina (Ward 19, 20)
St. Paul’s West (Ward 21)
Don Valley West (Ward 25, 26)
Toronto—Danforth (Ward 29, 30)
Beaches—East York (Ward 32)
Don Valley East (Ward 33)
Scarborough—Agincourt (Ward 39, 40)
Scarborough East (Ward 43, 44)
Toronto from space

Toronto from space.

On November 13, Toronto residents will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward's councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto's ridings is Toronto Centre (Ward 28). One candidate responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include Edward Chin, Paula Fletcher (incumbent), Patrick Kraemer, Suzanne McCormick, Daniel Nicastro, and Michael Zubiak.

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

Patrick Kraemer

41-year-old Patrick Kraemer is a lawyer.

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

A: Energy, Crime and Poverty are the main planks of my platform and the most serious issues facing Ward 30.
The province is moving ahead with a new gas fired electricity generating plant in the Portlands adjacent to the beaches of Lake Ontario. The provincial Liberals were elected on promises of moving away from our highly polluting coal plants to renewable energies. The Portlands Energy Centre is another broken promise of this provincial government.
And the City could be doing so much more on this front. As Councilor I will fight for a comprehensive and aggressive energy conservation program. Energy conservation will achieve these goals much quicker than the construction of new facilities. Further, I will push for the construction of renewable energy sources such as windmills to fill the energy demands of the City. These proposals will create a competitive and sustainable economy for the City, will reduce pollution and our contribution to green house gases and will prevent the need to create more energy polluting sources such as the provincial plan of the Portlands Energy Centre.
Crime is another important issue for the City of Toronto and of concern for the residents of Ward 30. Many people are concerned about the incidents of guns, violent crimes and physical assaults. We have one of the safest cities in North America yet people still feel vulnerable when these things happen in our own community.
We don't need more police officers, we need to work together to make our communities safe and to feel safe in our communities. I will push to have more police officers out of their cars and to have them walking and biking on the streets in our neighbourhoods. Police also need to be involved in community and business associations, our schools and at neighbourhood functions and facilities. We also need to invest in technology and training to combat the organization and incidents of crime. Finally, we need to create opportunities for citizens to participate more fully in community awareness programs, to become educated about crime in the community and create avenues to report crime and criminal behaviour. We need to take ownership of our neighbourhoods and make them safe.
Poverty – its sources and consequences, is a serious issue for Toronto. There are hundreds of thousands of Torontonians that are currently unemployed. Not only is this a loss of much productive power in our city, it has devastating impacts on individuals and families and pushes many people into poverty, homelessness and subject to numerous social stressors. Homelessness is also a product of low welfare payments, lack of affordable housing and inadequate medical and psychiatric services. These are just a few of the issues related to poverty and as City Councilor I will advocate unequivocally for the cause of eradicating poverty and the effects of poverty.

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

Energy and conservation. Not only does the Portlands Energy project in Ward 30 need to be halted, the City has the opportunity to become a leader in addressing energy usage and emissions of green house gases. I am a proponent of achieving our energy goals through an aggressive energy conservation program using incentives, tax policy and other tools to achieve it. Ward 30 could be the leader in this area rather than being the Ward that could becomes the highest new green house gas emitter in 2007.

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

A: I believe I have the experience, education and desire to provide the leadership needed in the role of Councilor. I have always had a keen interest in politics and have taken many opportunities to be involved in various groups/boards/initiatives to help make a positive difference in our society. Toronto City Council is in need of leadership and I pledge to serve in this capacity to push forward a progressive agenda of change.

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

A: This is where I live and where my wife and I are raising our family. We have a self interest in making this a better place. I want to help make our community better for the many friends, businesses, cultural activities, recreational facilities and neighbourhoods that are a part of this vibrant and energetic Ward.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: I am actively involved with Pro Bono Law Ontario having offered free legal advice to such groups as Somali Canadian Association and Television for the Environment. I am a member of Legal Aid of Ontario offering legal services to people who would otherwise not be able to afford it. I have been involved in several community gardens. I have been a member of the Toronto Choral Society, am a regular aphaeresis donor with Canadian Blood Services and have helped raise money for numerous charities including Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank.

Q: Which council decision (since the 2003 election) do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of, and which was least desirable?

A: The cancellation of a fixed link to the Toronto Island Airport was a positive step toward preventing a more active airport and a major air and noise polluter on the waterfront and in the downtown. Ward 30 and all residents of Toronto will benefit from not having this airport.
The most detestable decision since the 2003 election was the bylaw passed at the insistence of Mayor Miller to prohibit homeless from sleeping or congregating in Nathan Phillips Square. Poverty and homelessness will not be eradicated by making them invisible to the law makers at City Hall.

Q: If you were elected as a "rookie" councillor, what would you bring to the table beyond the incumbent?

A: I am a resident of Ward 30 and have an intimate knowledge and self-interest in making it a better place.
I am not affiliated with any political party, and this would provide me the ability to stand up for my ward each time there is a vote on any given issue. Many councilors are aligned with a political party, and will vote to support motions that their party supports, even when it is not in the best interest of the ward they represent.
I bring a unique set of skills and experience to this role. I am enthusiastic, committed and have a strong desire to make our City a better place.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: Toronto is diverse, vibrant and full of energy. It represents hope, opportunity and excellence. It has the potential to be even greater, to be a leader in Canada and the world. There are so many challenges that need to be addressed that we must take the opportunity to do something about it. We have the knowledge, technology and resources to achieve so much. I believe in Toronto and believe we can play an even stronger leadership role.

Daniel Nicastro

62-year-old Daniel Nicastro is a restoration architect, writer, artist, and translator.

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

1) Revitalising Commerce on the Danforth Jones going East ; Inventory of housing stock for state of maintenance, for illegal buildings and use, for rentals, for absent landlords, for compliance to density per bedroom, for historically significant properties and/or districts, identifying and developing areas that can generate local employment
2) Having the grassroots participate in the governance of the city through a system of neighbourhood townhalls and participation in the future of the Portlands asking for transparency and participation in the decision making and spending process.
3) Improving TTC service, including a surface bus service Broadview to Main Street, Subway stops are too far apart for the elderly and non motorised handicapped, general rationalisation of parking and parking enforcement.

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

A: The Portlands

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

A: Because I am tired of the present arrogance at City Hall and would like to separate Party Politiccs[sic] from City Governance and alliances that do not represent the agenda of the grassroot.

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

A: I grew up in it, I know it well, I can see its potential and its abandonment in certain areas, I like the multicultural mix and would like to welcome and integrate the new ethnic groups that are coming in and fostering commerce, like the Ethiopian, the Africans and those already here expanding local festivals and cultural events district by district

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: Sponsoring refugees, helping informally resettlement of immigrants, giving English classes etc.

Q: Which council decision (since the 2003 election) do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of, and which was least desirable?

A: Increasing taxes was contreversials,[sic] insisting in chasing dreams like the Olympics or a World fair are chimeras. We should concentrate in bringing back quality to city life and maintenance, concentrating on the potential for tourism our ethnic mix can bring (see Caribana etc.) and then we will become our own distinct World Class City.

Q: If you were elected as a "rookie" councillor, What would you bring to the table beyond the incumbent?

A: A real connection with the electorate. Humbleness as their representative. Consultation and discussions before voting for controversial City Programmes and Issues. A return to and improvement to saving our local heritage including Historical Buildings (see Riverdale hospital) and control over the planning process to control condominium/highrise expansion in Ward 30 in particular. Transparency for the Portland and Waterfront projects. A cricket pitch in the Portlands or Riverdale park to reflect our cultural mix in sports as well.

Mr. Nicastro did not respond to the question "What does Toronto mean to you?"

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.