Ex-Liberal president declares for Toronto mayoralty

Friday, September 29, 2006

The field of candidates running to lead the City of Toronto became larger today as former Liberal Party of Canada president Stephen LeDrew threw his hat in the contest for mayor of Canada's largest city. LeDrew is running against incumbent Mayor of Toronto David Miller, who is seeking a second term and city councillor Jane Pitfield, who was considered Miller's main challenger until today. With LeDrew entering the race there are a total of 38 candidates running for the position. The election takes place on November 13, 2006.

Miller is a centre-left politician with links to the New Democratic Party though he also has support from some Liberals and Conservatives. His opponents have been looking for a candidate to challenge him in light of what has been perceived as Jane Pitfield's faltering candidacy. LeDrew considered supporting Pitfield but, calling her "Calamity Jane" because of the mistakes she's made in her campaign, concluded she could not unseat the mayor. After other high-profile figures such as former Members of Parliament Dennis Mills and Sergio Marchi and former police chief Julian Fantino declined to enter the contest as a centre or centre-right candidate, LeDrew decided to enter the race. Today was the last day to register as a candidate.

LeDrew has never run for public office though he has many years of experience as a "back room" operative in the Liberal Party and in municipal politics. In 2005, he declared bankruptcy and was ordered to pay 74% of the $364,000 he owed in back taxes.

"The evidence is that LeDrew consciously and continually neglected to pay income tax installments when due and appeared to regard his obligation to pay income tax as subordinate to all other personal obligations," wrote Justice John Ground of the Superior Court of Justice.

LeDrew says he was trying to pay off his tax debt but also had to pay personal expenses such as school fees for his children.

"I'd gone through a divorce. I was in a law firm ... that broke up and I lost money in that. I had four children to put into schools."

"I was also working 2,000 hours a year (as a) volunteer as Liberal Party president. I said , 'I owe taxes. The taxpayer can wait. My children can not.'"

"I was proud of my choices, my priorities," he told the Toronto Star. "I'd do it again. Any father knows his children are the most important thing."


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