Ward 17: Saeed Selvam, Community-builder

Saeed Selvam, Ward 17 (Davenport) candidate.

Saeed Selvam, Ward 17 (Davenport) candidate.

Over the past weekend, Mayor Rob Ford was asked to leave a Ward 17 (Davenport) advanced polling station — perhaps to try and protect incumbent councilor Cesar Palacio from the grassroots efforts of community leader Saeed Selvam.

Just a small window into Mr. Selvam’s background:

In August 2013, Saeed led the charge for Ward 17 Davenport’s first completely non-partisan Town Hall and urged local politicians to act on the community’s concerns. Saeed also started a local initiative called TICTOC, which addressed high drop-out rates at Oakwood Collegiate by promoting job opportunities to youth.

He’s won the Lincoln Alexander Award for Leadership in the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Mandela Equity Award, and provided policy advice to the Obama administration. Need I go on?

I’ve had the great fortune of spending with Saeed during the course of the 2014 Toronto civic election. His voice and experience would truly be an asset to a progressive and representative city council intimately connected to the needs of everyday citizens.

Visit Saeed Sevlam’s website.


Posted in Candidates, Citizens, City Council, Civic Participation, Communities, Democracy, Diversity, Participation, Police, Public Forums, Social Services, Volunteering, We Can Do Better Toronto, Youth, Youth Employment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ward 7: Keegan Henry-Mathieu, A True Community Hero


Keegan Henry-Mathieu, Ward 7 (York West) candidate

Keegan Henry-Mathieu, Ward 7 (York West) candidate

Ward 7 (York West) has been plagued by incumbent councilor Giorgio Mammoliti, who has been a truly toxic stain on Toronto city council. “His multiple instances of alleged corruption, his general incompetence, his homophobia, and his venal, near-psychotic demeanour at council render him unfit for public office of any kind.”

Enter 27-year-old Keegan Henry-Mathieu, a true community advocate who

…genuinely understands the pressures on the ward’s population better, particularly with respect to community housing, has a better grasp of women’s issues and minority issues, and is one of the few candidates who (is) willing to talk openly about government actually raising more money in order to provide services to people who lack them. – The Torontoist

Sounds like a dream. Much much respect and well-wishes to Keegan in the week ahead.

Visit Keegan Henry-Mathieu’s website.

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, City Council, Civic Participation, Communities, Democracy, Diversity, Olivia Chow, Participation, Taxes, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ward 3: Peter Fenech, Policy Over Politics

Peter Fenech, Ward 3 (Etobicoke Centre) candidate

Peter Fenech, Ward 3 (Etobicoke Centre) candidate

His tag line says it all: “Policy over Politics.”

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Ward 3 (Etobicoke Centre) candidate Peter Fenech, who astutely points out that the only proposed expanded transit line through his ward is a Mississauga transit route. Bridging the often-cited divide between Etobicoke and downtown, Peter’s support of the Eglinton LRT and time-based transfers are only the beginning of an intelligently-crafted and progressive vision for a united Toronto.

Visit Peter Fenech’s website.

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, City Council, Civic Participation, Cycling, Democracy, LRT, Transit, TTC, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ward 22: Josh Matlow, He Should Just Be Mayor

Ward 22 (St. Paul's) Councillor Josh Matlow.

Ward 22 (St. Paul’s) Councillor Josh Matlow.

Josh Matlow is an exceptional activist on city council pushing for change on issues as varied as rail safety and reform of the Ontario Municipal Board. Never shy to express his opinion or challenge the status quo, he’s been an energetic asset at city hall – The Toronto Star

The incumbent Ward 22 (St. Paul’s) City Councillor is equal parts passion and ration. Toronto deserves more like him at City Hall. Maybe he’ll be mayor one day — or at least TTC Chair.

Expect a sleeper re-election.

Visit Josh Matlow’s website.

Posted in Candidates, City Council, Civic Participation, Democracy, Leadership, Participation, Transit, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ward 1: Idil Burale, Right Next Door to Ford

Idil Burale, Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) candidate

Idil Burale, Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) candidate

Opening her website with the familiar-to-this-campaign adage “Ward 1 deserves better,” Somali-Canadian activist and community advocate Idil Burale has been running a progressive campaign against Ford-loyalist Vincent Crisanti in Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) — right next door to Doug Ford’s old ward (2), where Andray Domise is about to give the boot to Rob Ford.

She’s got this.

Visit Idil Burale’s website.

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, City Council, Civic Participation, Democracy, Diversity, Participation, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ward 2: Andray Domise, The Candidate Who Will Beat Rob Ford

Andray Domise, candidate for Ward 2 (Etobicoke North)

Andray Domise, candidate for Ward 2 (Etobicoke North)

On September 12, 2014, minutes before the deadline to withdraw or enter the Toronto civic election, the Ford brothers staged a needlessly dramatic game of musical chairs straight out of an after-school special: Mayor Rob Ford, battling addictions recovery, and now a cancerous tumour in his stomach, withdrew his campaign for re-election, and his brother and campaign manager, Ward 2 councillor Doug Ford, stepped in — resigning from his re-election campaign in Ward 2 and giving his campaign spot to Rob.

Rob Ford, already not in well-enough health to act as mayor — or councillor — probably assumed he would have a sleeper victory in Etobicoke North, typically referred to as a central hub of “Ford Nation.”

But he was absolutely wrong.

Because Andray Domise is running in Ward 2.

The right candidate can beat Rob Ford, even in Ward 2. The right candidate should beat Rob Ford. Andray Domise is that candidate… Domise is the real deal. He knows his community, he knows the trouble spots within the ward, and he engages with its residents. But rather than swooping in with high-flying promises to fix individual problems as they come to the top of his call-sheet, he encourages his neighbours to work with him to make structural and cultural changes that will raise the community overall. – The Torontoist

Visit Andray Domise’s website, and let’s get to know the name of the candidate who will make Toronto Ford-free.

Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) profile on the City of Toronto’s website.

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, City Council, Civic Participation, Doug Ford, Leadership, Participation, Rob Ford | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why I Can’t Get Behind John Tory

John Tory and Doug Ford: common people?

John Tory and Doug Ford: common people?

As we enter the final week of Toronto’s 2014 civic election race with record numbers of voters turning out at advanced polls (which are now closed), mainstream media has been claiming John Tory is the sure-bet to win the mayoral seat — which, lest we not forget, is only one vote of 45 on city council, and not nearly as influential as we may believe. The editorial board at The Globe & Mail has endorsed Mr. Tory, which should come as no surprise given that

“(Tory’s) late father, lawyer John A. Tory, was a trusted adviser to the late Kenneth Thomson, whose Woodbridge Co. Ltd. is majority owner of The Globe and Mail.”

And The Toronto Sun, typically on the Rob Ford camp, have endorsed Tory — whose campaign team, led by Nick Kouvalis, is the exact same one that brought us Rob Ford in 2010 (more on this below).

One also can’t help but wonder if The Toronto Star, famous for exposing Rob Ford’s many scandals, will follow suit. This weekend, after printing an article noting that this week in 2003 David Miller beat Mel Lastman to become mayor of Toronto, The Star quickly printed a correction saying that Miller did not beat Lastman because Lastman did not actually run in 2003 — leaving out the point that Miller in fact beat… John Tory. All of this in a weekly summary article that, surely enough, uses a feature image of… John Tory.

Sidebar: this is great piece on “How polling skews elections” examines the unreliability of so-called “scientific” polls.

The Robb Not Ford campaign has maintained a positive outlook and never slumped to personal attacks, and will continue to refrain as they have no business in this election — or any for that matter. Rather, we’ve focused on positive encouragements for civic engagement (and will this week be looking at endorsements of city council candidates across Toronto’s 44 wards).

But to make a limited critical analysis, this is why I, in the words of Henry Rollins and William Shatner, “can’t get behind” John Tory in his effort to become mayor of Toronto.

I can’t get behind Canada’s worst negative ad in history.

In 1993, as campaign manager to federal Progressive Conservative leader Kim Campbell, John Tory approved one of my earliest political memories: Canada’s first ever American-style negative attack ads saying “Is this the face of a Prime Minister?” — while showing pictures of Liberal leader Jean Chrétien’s facial paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy.

Often referred to as the nastiest attack ad in Canadian history, John Tory’s blunder resulted in the PC Party getting trounced in the 1993 election.

I can’t get behind misogyny.

An earlier post on this website looked at John Tory’s 2014 comments that women need to learn how to play golf in order to shrink the pay gap between men and women in the business world.

Without really needing to elaborate…. I can’t get behind that.

I can’t get behind a Ford with a better vocabulary.

Earlier this month, John Tory admitted — after initially denying — that in 2010 he donated to Doug Ford’s Ward 2 city council campaign. His response? A haze of lost memory.

“Frankly, even to this moment, I don’t recall donating to Doug Ford’s campaign. I may well have done. I’ve tried to support people in public life of all different stripes.”

Sounds a little like Rob Ford’s “probably in one of my drunken stupors” adage; but regardless, a vote for Tory simply feels like a vote for a Ford with a better vocabulary, which… I can’t get behind.

I can’t get behind the team that brought Toronto Rob Ford.

John Tory’s campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, was Rob Ford’s campaign manager in 2010. Should we really trust the product being sold to us by the team that sold us Rob Ford?

I can’t get behind pulling out on debates that matter.

At the last minute, John Tory withdrew from the TTC Riders’ debate (Sept. 15), the housing debate (Oct. 17), and the waterfront debate (also Sept. 15). Aren’t transit, housing, and the environment three issues central to most Torontonians, particularly those in need?

The withdrawals beg the question: when faced with having to defend his most central arguments, particularly his “SmartTrack” transit plan which has come under major fire for its financial feasibility, is John Tory just going to pull out?

I can’t get behind denying white the existence of white privilege.

In a rare moment of actual anger in this campaign, I responded to the above comments by Mr. Tory in response to the question by Global reporter Peter Kim“Does white privilege exist?” — hinting that, ultimately, Tory is simply a Ford with a better vocabulary.

Thanks to the Torontoist‘s Desmond Cole for the detailed response to the reality of white privilege in light of Mr. Tory’s comments (note: The Torontoist gave an official endorsement to Olivia Chow this week — you’re welcome for the “do better” slogan!).

…and of course, without a further elaboration on white privilege, this wonderful piece by Jon Stewart from earlier this year seems to fit the occasion.

I can’t get behind getting Rogered.

In the 1990s, Rogers launched negative option billing plans for subscribers. Under its plan, Rogers added new stations and new fees without consent and would only drop them if a subscriber specifically declined the new stations. The move sparked massive consumer outrage and led to Parliament passing a law in 1999 effectively banning the practice – The Toronto Star.

John Tory ran Rogers media from 1995 to 1999 and Rogers Cable from 1999 to 2003.


Ever been Rogered? Tory’s your guy.

I can’t get behind faith-based public funding for schools.

“It’s still called the theory of evolution. They teach evolution in the Ontario curriculum, but they also could teach the fact to the children that there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs” – John Tory

As leader of the Ontario conservatives, against the advice of his own party, Tory pledged to extend $400 million in public funding to faith-based religious schools. The promise deeply split Ontario, and the Conservatives saw a massive plunge in polls as a result, ultimately losing the provincial election in 2007.

John Tory isn’t being called the Mitt Romney of Canada for nothing.

But I CAN get behind a progressive city council.

These are just some of the reasons why I don’t believe John Tory as mayor would be the “SmartTrack” for Toronto.

However, if elected as mayor, John Tory’s one vote on a council of 45 would, like that of the Fords (regularly losing votes 43-2), carry little weight. Electing a progressive council is absolutely essential on October 27 — which leads us to the next week of entries coming up on robbnotford.com.

We can do BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Accessibility, Budget, Buses, Candidates, Civic Participation, Communities, Debate, Democracy, Diversity, Doug Ford, Environment, Feminism, Housing, John Tory, Leadership, LGBT Rights, LRT, My Campaign, No Jets TO, Olivia Chow, Ontario Election, Participation, Rob Ford, Social Services, Subways, Taxes, Toronto Island, Transit, TTC, Waterfront, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Record Turnout at Advanced Polls

Matty Eckler Community Centre, where I voted at advanced polls this week. Photo by Keith Beaty / Toronto Star

Matty Eckler Community Centre, where I voted at advanced polls this week. Photo by Keith Beaty / Toronto Star

Advanced polls for Toronto’s 2014 civic election have now closed. In the six days polls were open, 161,147 citizens cast ballots that will determine the next four years of Toronto’s City Council and Mayoral roles. This is up from 77,000 in 2010. The first day of advanced polls alone saw 28,046 Torontonians at the polls compared to 16,000 in 2010.

A central tenet of the Robb Not Ford campaign has been civic engagement and increasing voter turnout to ensure that Toronto doesn’t face the same fate of unrepresentative representation that came out of the 2010 election. So far, we’re well on our way to changing that.

And on the note of strategic voting…. there’s been a lot of talk about voting for John Tory to ensure that Doug Ford does not win — instead of voting for, say, Olivia Chow (or me!), with whom many voters’ hearts actually rest, out of fear of the myth of “vote splitting.” Well, Doug Ford is already not going to win, and if all 1.6 million eligible voters in Toronto hit the polls, those who are planning to vote Tory as the “Anyone But Ford” vote can rest assured they needn’t do so; every citizen voting for their preferred choice would give enough numbers to make Toronto Ford (and Ford-with-a-better-vocabulary, a.k.a. “Tory”)-free.

This video says it all:

We all get one vote. Let’s use it for what we want, not what we don’t.

Let’s keep doing BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, Democracy, Doug Ford, John Tory, Leadership, My Campaign, Olivia Chow, Participation, We Can Do Better Toronto, Winning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Advanced Polls Are Open Now


As advanced polls have opened for October 27‘s civic election, the next era of Toronto’s civic future is getting down to the wire. It is also time to acknowledge, as I have since the beginning, that the mayor is only one vote of 45 on Toronto city council. The tumultuous, and at times humourous, and even aggravating, mayoral race or privilege and distance from everyday Torontonians has predictably distracted from council races in Toronto’s city wards. A city as diverse as Toronto truly needs representation that reflects and respects its needs, interests, and differences — it all begins with your local community.

If you’re decided (or undecided) on your mayoral vote, are you also aware of who is running for council in your ward — and who has the most direct connection to getting what matters to you on the table at city hall?

The Position Primer by the wonderful citizens at Women in Toronto Politics (#WiTOPoli) is a great place to start. Simply enter your postal code and you’ll be directed towards info on who is running in your ward, what their platforms are, and how they would, or have been, representing your community.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be focusing on specific wards needing particular attention, and driving this race to its conclusion. Of course, that is only when the work begins, as the key to meaningful change to work every day to make Toronto BETTER, which I am confident we can!

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, Democracy, Participation, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s not the moderator that’s f–ked up.

Singer Damian Abraham of F--ked Up performs during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club iin April 2009 in Indio, California. Michael Buckner / Getty Images

Singer Damian Abraham of F–ked Up performs during day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club iin April 2009 in Indio, California. Michael Buckner / Getty Images

A criminal lawyer, a high school student, and two career politicians walk into a mayoral debate on arts and culture…

There is no punchline. The setup is the joke.

Meanwhile, a candidate who is actually a member of the arts community in Toronto, has a comprehensive arts-friendly platform, has fought and won fights in court protecting the arts in Toronto, and has fared rather well in debates when invited to the table, is strangely absent.

That will be the scene on September 29 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox when Damian Abraham of Toronto band F–ked Up moderates the ArtsVote debate. At least we can put our faith in the host to hold the candidates accountable.

The Robb Not Ford: Robb Johannes for Mayor of Toronto 2014 campaign has taken the general premise of positive campaigning and placing civic engagement over any form of politicking, but it has to be said, Toronto: scenarios like this are the problem. Unrepresentative representation by so-called “leaders” who endeavour to have power than to empower has led to the disconnect between candidates and communities that got us Rob Ford — and along the way have disenfranchised affected communities and stakeholders form having a voice in affairs that directly influence their well-being as citizens of Canada’s greatest city.

At this debate, it won’t be the moderator that’s f–ked up.

However, none of this should surprise nor discourage the arts community in Toronto. Rather, let it be another example of a community needing to step up and speak out in its own voice against a system that has left it voiceless.

We can do BETTER, Toronto!

Posted in Arts and Culture, Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, Debate, Democracy, Film Industry, John Tory, Leadership, My Campaign, Olivia Chow, Participation, Public Forums, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment