Canada's York West (Ward 8) city council candidates speak

Monday, October 30, 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.

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 York West (Ward 8). One candidate responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include Hau Dang Tan, Garry Green, Peter Li Preti (incumbent), Abdulhaq Omar, Anthony Perruzza, and Ramnarine Tiwari.

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

Garry Green

34-years-old, Garry Green is a Contracted Services Specialist (employment programs), Toronto District School Board.

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

1. Housing: I wish to re-design Edgley Village to make it safer. Former Mayor of Toronto and former head of MTHA (now TCHC) John Sewell proposed the redevelopment 30 years ago and it has died off due to a lack of advocacy. I will get this back on the map and get it done.
I also want to ensure that all people in the ward live in housing that safe, well maintained and that they know they have a champion if they need help. I will be there to listen and act on their behalf. Adequate housing is critical if we wish to raise healthy children and if we want to put people in a position to become employable.
2. Employment
I have worked in the employment field for several years and wish to use this experience to help people in our community. I have helped youth, newcomers and even seniors gain employment and it would be my pleasure to help the residents of ward 8. I will encourage employers to hire locally, I will try my best to build a mega-hospital in our ward and I will have an internship program open for youth and newcomers out of my office.
3. Childcare
The local councillor voted against childcare subsidies in 2003. I have one young child and one on the way in November so I know the importance of getting children off to a healthy start. I will fight for families; not vote against them.
4. Crime
I feel that if we improve the housing, employment and childcare needs of residents, crime will be significantly decreased in coming years. The community will also benefit from far more positive press but we first need to heal on the inside before the external forces (press) are supportive.

Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election? Housing. How can we ask people to go out and get a job when their home environment is unsuitable?

A: I am also concerned with the growth of development in my ward. We need a councillor free from the strings that come with accepting dollars from developers. I have vowed not to accept dollars from developers or labour because I want to act in the best interests of my community at all times. I live in ward 8, will raise my family in ward 8 and will always look at the impact of all decisions on our community.

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

A: I was very discouraged by the fact that our councillor voted against childcare subsidies and with the rise in influence of local developers. I want the community to have more of a say and as a local resident, I feel that I am in the best position to do something.
I also grew up in a family that did not have any influence politically. I can remember not getting chosen for hockey teams after winning the Most Valuable Player in house league one year and not making the all-star team the next year because people with more connections made it. This was very troubling to me and I always wanted to be someone who could make a difference for people and to treat all people equally.
My dad is a truck driver and my mom worked with developmentally challenged clients and so seeing their strong work ethic was an inspiration to me. I was the first person in my family to gain a post secondary degree (Masters in Public Admin in local government) and vow to use everything I have learned and experienced for the benefit of my chosen community.

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

A: I worked with Toronto Youth Job Corps serving Jane and Finch, starting back in 1999 (until 2003) and I just loved the sense of community that existed here. Despite all of the negative press, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. The clients were great, the agencies were fantastic and I just wanted to be a part of the community. As a result, I bought my house in the area and look forward to raising my family here.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: I was a member of the Board of Blacksmith Childcare Centre for 2 years, I am still the President of my former condominium board, a former Big Brother and I have started a youth serving agency entitled Big City Youth Services. While it is just starting out, we have already formed some excellent relationships with other local agencies and look forward to expanding the organization in the coming years.
I am also a resident in ward 8 and will be for my entire time in office.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: Toronto, ideally, is a place where anyone from any part of the world can come and feel at home. This is the dream that I have for Toronto. However, there are still many issues that need to be addressed such as systemic biases in hiring, lack of representation by minorities and women and the need to improve housing conditions for our residents throughout the City of Toronto.
Toronto so far is just a dream. We all know that the waterfront needs to be dealt with better. We all know that developers are having too much say in how our building is done. We all know that parties are playing too big of a role at city hall. We all know that local issues are getting lost in the size of the megacity. We all know that newcomers with excellent experience and knowledge come to our country only to be sent to inferior social housing and to work at jobs well beneath their skill levels. The question is what are we going to do about it?
A group of six council candidates including John Sewell, Adam Vaughan and myself have proposed getting more minorities and women on agencies, boards and commissions, providing more local authority for community councils and have them meet with greater frequency and our presence together is an example of how people of different political stripes can come together for common goals. I have also proposed the re-design of Edgely Village and many other measures to get housing improved in my community.
Toronto is a dream not yet fulfilled and awaiting new ideas and visions that can make it what we all know it can be.

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 bylaw that was actually implemented since 2003 that I agree with is that "all bars, billiard halls, bingo halls, casinos and the racetrack must be smoke-free, or provide an approved designated smoking room".
With what we know about the hazards of smoking today, I feel it is imperative that we protect the workers who work in these environments.
In March 2003, the local city councillor for ward 8 voted against restoring childcare subsidies. This is shameful in any area but in Jane and Finch and surrounding areas, this is a huge need.

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

A: I would bring a passion that has never been seen in this ward before. I would bring equal representation for all constituents. I would bring a fresh approach and an attention to the residents of my area. I would also bring a vision for the area that starts with looking after people's housing, employment and childcare needs as a means to gaining a safer and more prosperous community in the coming years.
I am also a collaborator and I will work closely with all councillors, regardless of their political stripes in order to bring positive results to our community.