Move over Rob Ford: NOW Magazine Feature

robbnotford web1_large

Photo by Cynthia McQueen / NOW Magazine

A new article by Cynthia McQueen of NOW Magazine:

NOW talked to the man behind Robb Johannes doesn’t feel that Ford has been honest or that he reflects our city’s diverse population.

The musician hopes to distance himself from the other candidates and the “cult of personality” started by Ford. Johannes says all the top candidates are engaged in building a name for themselves pointing out that David Soknacki participated with his popular, but short-lived memes.

“I think citizens of Toronto have had enough of characters representing us,” he says. “We need people that we can relate to.”

With a diverse background working in social services, Johannes has experience “taking disparate interests and finding ways to bridge them.”  He did just that when he was the executive director of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users that fought for the first legal supervised injection site in North America.

Of course, transit and accessibility are large pieces of his platform, as they should be for any candidate. He knows people personally that have turned down jobs because their commute would have included a ride on the King streetcar.

“The fact that only 31 of 69 TTC stops are wheelchair accessible” makes the city less inclusive, he says.

He would change that and open discussions on introducing summer bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth and eliminating traffic on King and Queen streets making them pedestrian corridors.

Of all the things we discussed, being open and honest were integral to Johannes.

He says he would bring more accountability for the city’s finances. “People don’t mind paying taxes if they know where they’re going and how they’re being used.”

The current system is a mystery to the voters he’s talked to.

He wants to take “down that veil” to show “what’s happening behind the scenes.”

When asked if he has a campaign slogan that’s an answer to Ford’s cracked up gravy train, he says “We can do better, Toronto.”

Source: NOW Magazine

Posted in Buses, Candidates, Civic Participation, Cycling, David Soknacki, Diversity, My Campaign, Participation, Rob Ford, Subways, Transit, TTC, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING: Rob Ford to “Take a Break” from Campaign

Rob Ford Toronto Sun

Photo by Ernest Doroszuk / Toronto Sun

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has allegedly told The Toronto Sun that he is ready to take a break” from the mayoral election campaign to “go get help” — likely in light of a new video discussed by Robyn Doolittle at her new home with The Globe and Mail.

As someone who has extensive professional history working with and supporting those struggling with addiction, I have always had nothing but empathy for Rob Ford’s personal battles, and reinforces the need to emphasize social services. I wish him the best in taking a break from his mayoral campaign, and hope this recent development is a legitimate effort. It is not only what’s best for Rob Ford, but for Toronto.

However, a line needs to be drawn between having empathy for someone and recognizing the dangers associated with having him as a civil servant. Rob Ford is not, has not, and will not be fit for public office.

Posted in Leadership, My Campaign, Rob Ford, Social Services, We Can Do Better Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Focus on Food (part 1)

Toronto Foundation for Student Success

Toronto Foundation for Student Success

I had introduced the topic of student meal programs with Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star in this feature. We have been and will continue to do ongoing entries on many platform pieces in the Robb Not Ford campaign, so let’s start the food discussion here.

Certainly one area of concern that is important to every citizen across Toronto’s diversity of communities is access to nutrition.  In particular, continued funding for student nutrition programs is vital for the people of Toronto.  With time taken up by working, commuting, and family commitments, many households recognize that coordinating healthy breakfasts and lunches can be difficult.

There are a wide variety of nutrition programs that have been implemented by communities across the GTA.  A few of the major groups that work towards building nutrition programs are:

  • With chapters across the country, the Breakfast Club of Canada has helped 130,000 students have access to a nutritious breakfast each morning in 1,266 schools.
  • Feeding Our Future is Toronto specific program is run by the TDSB and focuses not only providing healthy meals to students, but also on ensuring that those who are part of the program gain a greater understanding of food handling and nutrition.
  • Foodshare is local initiative to not only increase access to healthy food for students of all ages, but also to teach children about cooking and gardening activities that increase food literacy in order to promote lifelong positive eating habits.

The above programs, though 65% unfunded, are mainly run by involved and generous citizens. They also rely on funding from the municipal and provincial governments, with a proposed funding partnership model moving forward.

At various levels of school, teachers who had students participate in nutrition programs reported increased concentration and a calming effect on students.  For young people who will soon be (or already are) active citizens of Toronto, as well as families as a whole, nutrition and its effects are often overlooked.

Toronto Public Health has recognized the fact that feeding children is not only important for their well-being today; it is an investment in the future.  It is imperative that those who run the municipal government recognize that city funding for nutrition, in some cases at $1.51/day, can be a part of our budget. We believe in finding ways to support our children and ensure that they will be able to learn and enjoy their days without hunger getting in their way.

Posted in Budget, My Campaign, Nutrition, Social Services, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Friends and Neighbours” Event at Clinton’s This Sunday


Join us this Sunday, April 27, at Clinton’s Tavern (693 Bloor Street West) (view map) at 2:00p.m., for the “Friends and Neighbours” variety show.

Robb Johannes will be one of the featured guests, giving an interview and Q&A on the event-themed question “what makes a good neighbour?” as well as the Toronto mayoral race.

More details are on the Events page.

Posted in Candidates, Civic Participation, Communities, Leadership, My Campaign, Participation, Public Forums | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turnout Toronto Podcast

Robb Johannes at Turnout Toronto

Robb Johannes at Turnout Toronto

Being Mayor is not about having power, it’s about empowering, and giving your city a voice… as soon as you bring politics into the picture, that’s when you start to divide communities.
Robb Johannes

In case you missed the live stream of Accessible Media‘s coverage of the civic engagement fair Turnout Toronto on Mosaic City from April 10, have a listen to a podcast here and hear Robb speak about civic engagement in Toronto at 2:35 / 10:05 / 17:30 / 19:50.

A transcript of Robb’s interview is below:

On why he decided to run for Mayor:

I thought the 2010 Civic Election was a great example of what can happen when there’s a disconnect between candidates and communities. I felt there (were) a lot of people in Toronto that didn’t feel there was a candidate that really spoke for them; that could relate to them, that could speak for their issues, and could relate to their lifestyle. And I think that actually discouraged a lot of people — particularly young people — to go out and vote.

I felt that it was just a simple responsibility on my part to do more than just vote this time. I had been involved in the Downtown Eastside Vancouver in a lot of social justice work around the supervised injection site and homeless advocacy. I was able to register people to vote that did not have proper ID, who were not able to access the political process — but were such active members of their community that it almost seemed like a disservice to the electoral process that they could not vote.

I think just reaching out to communities and being more of a voice for Toronto is something that Toronto is currently missing, and that inspired me just enough to step up and get involved.

On civic engagement:

As a citizen it’s not enough to just go out and vote once every four years, which is why I think Turnout is such a great event, because it allows you access to tools that are very simple. Taking a day-to-day involvement in your own community’s affairs is just what being a responsible citizen is.

I don’t think the city is necessarily run by leaders — I don’t think leaders really exist, I think (so-called “leaders”) are supposed to be there as representatives that speak on behalf of communities. Being Mayor is not about having power, it’s about empowering, and giving your city a voice. It’s important for everybody to step up and acknowledge that they do have a voice and that it’s worth something.

On what Robb hopes people attending Toronto walk away with:

A sense of hope, a sense of empowerment, a sense of possibility that they have tools available to them that they can put to use to make their city better.

On the upcoming election:

Let’s get rid of the politics. Let’s have it not be about politics. Toronto is six amalgamated municipalities; you can commute an hour and a half and still be in the same city. There’s so much diversity. As soon as you start to bring politics into the picture, that’s when you divide communities.

The city needs to function well, it needs to be accessible, it needs to have transit that works, it needs roads without potholes — these aren’t political issues. It’s when you turn them into political issues that you start to have people choose sides.

My background coming into it, I’ve done conflict resolution in the federal prison system, I worked on police/community relations in the Downtown Eastside Vancouver — you have to be able to put your own personal politics aside and meet everybody where they’re at. And you have to be a listener and a facilitator. I think that’s what the role of a Mayor or any representative is.

Listen to the podcast at Accessible Media’s website.

Posted in Candidates, Citizens, Civic Participation, Communities, My Campaign, Participation, We Can Do Better Toronto, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Citizen: Adelaida Blaxley

Citizen: Adelaida Blaxley

Citizen: Adelaida Blaxley

Adelaida Blaxley, a recent graduate from University of Toronto and is now turning her efforts towards working for a BETTER Toronto, particularly with respect to representing youth, public health and recreation, arts and culture, and nightlife.

Read Adelaida’s full profile HERE.

If you would like to be a featured citizen, please contact us!

Posted in Arts and Culture, Citizens, Civic Participation, Cycling, Nightlife, Social Services, Volunteering, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Portraits by Lindsay Lauckner

Robb Johannes in The Candidates

Photo by Lindsay Lauckner

Thanks to Lindsay Lauckner, whose photos of Robb you may have been already on our campaign’s social media. Her project, The Candidates, which profiles the plethora of personalities in Toronto’s 2014 civic election (article by CP24 HERE), took focus on Robb Johannes recently:

Running a campaign seemed a natural extension of that desire to make a difference. At bare minimum, inspiring a greater voter turnout through my example has been driving the decision.
There is too much lip-service being paid to wanting to listen to citizens when, in fact, they are not actually being heard. And too many of Toronto’s representatives are becoming characters before they are acting as people.
– Robb Johannes


Posted in Candidates, Civic Participation, Leadership, My Campaign, Participation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Campaign Volunteer Session TONIGHT


Greetings friends,

It’s been an inspiring journey towards a BETTER Toronto thus far, and many of you have inquired, discussed, and already started volunteering with the Robb Not Ford / We Can Do Better, Toronto! campaign.

Tonight from 7-9pm, we’ll be hosting the first campaign volunteer information session at the Centre for Social Innovation (Annex location), 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto (MAP).

From anything as simple to handing out leaflets for a day; to organizing specific social and/or campaign events; to fundraising; to help with web, graphic, and promotional design; to reaching out to specific interest communities; to admin and scheduling; tonight’s session is meant to give us a chance to explore, within your areas of interest and availability, what we can do together to make Toronto BETTER.

See you tonight!

Posted in Civic Participation, Communities, Democracy, Leadership, My Campaign, Participation, Public Forums, Volunteering, We Can Do Better Toronto, Winning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#MayorQs with David Socknacki

David Socknacki chats with Metro News

Photo by David Van Dyke / Metro News

The final major candidate in the Metro #MayorQs series, which also included John ToryKaren Stintzand Olivia Chow, is former Toronto city budget chief David Soknacki.

Although the The Toronto StarThe Grid, and others referred to me as the winner of the first mayor’s debate in Scarborough in February over Mr. Socknacki and incumbent Rob Ford, it is certainly refreshing to see another balanced candidate with well-thought out and policy-based ideas that would make a welcome replacement of a rhetoric-based political ethos in Toronto — but so much so that attempts to create another Ford Nation-esque cult of personality through memes such as this may actually work in Mr. Socknacki’s detriment:

David Socknacki Memes

A concern we do have about Mr. Socknacki is that he may run the risk of treating the City of Toronto like a project at the expense of being inclusive of youth and disenfranchised groups or as engaged in cultural facilitation as one should be at the mayoral level.

Regardless, we all by now probably have indeed heard of David Socknacki.

Posted in Budget, Candidates, David Soknacki, Leadership, My Campaign, Taxes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#MayorQs with Karen Stintz

Karen Stintz talks with Metro News

Photo by David Van Dyke / Metro News

Last week, Metro published the results of conversations under the social media tagged #MayorQs with mayoral candidates John ToryKaren StintzDavid Soknacki, and Olivia Chow.

While we do enjoy former TTC Chair Karen Stintz’s enthusiasm towards the City of Toronto, citizens in the 2014 election are demanding less zeal and and more pragmatics; essentially platform over platitudes.

Albeit well-intentioned, Ms. Stintz’s attempt to reach out to regular Torontonians with the now infamous “I am like you” tweet:

…demonstrates the socioeconomic disconnect between candidates and communities that, in the 2010 civic election, left Toronto with unrepresentative representation.

We can do better, Toronto!

Posted in Candidates, Debate, Karen Stintz, Leadership, LRT, Transit, TTC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment