Canada's Scarborough East (Ward 44) city council candidates speak

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Toronto municipal election, 2006


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Scarborough East (Ward 43, 44)
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Saturday, November 4, 2006

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 Scarborough East (Ward 44). One candidates responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include Donald Blair, Diana Hall, Mohammed Mirza, Ron Moeser, Kevin Richardson, Richard Rieger, Richard Ross, and Kevin Wellington.

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

Diana Hall

53-year-old Diana Hall is the Executive Assistant to a City Councillor.

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

A: I want to deliver a made-in-Toronto waste solution – every year Toronto residents produce 500,000 tonnes of waste. I would like to look at implementing high-rise recycling; investigate new technologies to convert waste into clean energy, expand our recycling program to include materials such as Styrofoam and polystyrene plastic and improve recycling to e-waste to eliminate the 140,000 tonnes of old computers, cellphones and home electronics that end up in our landfills.
I believe we should expand and integrate our public transit system as Ward 44 is poorly serviced by both the TTC and GO transit systems. I support finding lasting solutions which include developing seamless transit that would make it easier to transfer from TTC to GO, expanding the Sheppard Subway to Scarborough and plan to push the Province to improve GO service with more trains, more often and longer hours.
I believe that the City must live within its means and we should be spending money on the core services that keep the City functioning. I believe our priorities should be to Improve the Aging Infrastructure. We need to make sure our water systems, electrical systems, roads and transit systems are safe and well maintained. I will work to hold tax increases to no more than inflation and want contracts to be openly tendered so we will achieve the best value for our money.

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

A: Promoting quality communities. Ward 44 is a great place to live and we have lots of parkland, lots of green space, a new waterfront trail and community centers. To keep it that way I will:
  • Promote open communication so that no planning application will go ahead without the community's involvement.
  • Support the Highland Creek Community Center. The first step towards achieving this has already been taken. It was included in the April 2006 Capital Budget.
  • Make Property Standards Enforcement a Priority. We all enjoy our well-maintained neighbourhoods. To achieve this I will support hiring more enforcement officers for our community

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

A: I want to move forward with fresh new ideas to make our city and our community a better, more vibrant and safer place in which to live and raise our families. Being on City Council means making difficult choices. I believe I have the experience, the understanding of our community, and the track record of working with everyone to be able to make the best choice. I believe we should move forward, not backwards.

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

A: I have lived in the community for 23 years and have worked at City Hall for the past 3 years so I know this community, the people and the issues. I know this job. I've listened and heard residents' concerns. I am now ready to act on their behalf because I know the priorities will be to address infill development, property standards and traffic. I will support finding solutions to garbage, transit and crime. We need to invest in our City's future.


Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: Currently I am an unpaid leave of absence from the City of Toronto. Prior to that I was a Resource to 2 Local Erosion Control Projects and to the East Scarborough Storefront Steering Committee.
My other previous community commitments include:
  • Centennial Community and Recreation Association (CCRA) Executive
  • Heart and Stroke, Fundraising Chair
  • West Hill Softball League, Volunteer
  • Parent Council and Teacher's Assistant
  • Scouts Canada, Vice Chair and Key Leader
  • West Hill Community Advisory Panel

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 completion of phase one of the new waterfront trail at the foot of Port Union Road is the best accomplishment in Ward 44 over the past three years. The completion of this trail was a cooperative effort of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, the Federal and Provincial Governments and the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. It is truly a waterfront park we can all be proud of.
I believe the decision not to build a subway in Scarborough and to run a dedicated light rail line on the Scarborough RT is a disservice to Ward 44 – we need better transit in the eastern part of Scarborough.

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

A: I'm currently the assistant to the outgoing City Councillor and sometimes there is the assumption that I would be a carbon copy. I'm not. I have my own views on the issues and my own way of getting the job done. Too often politicians get into office and we never hear from them except at election time. I always have been accessible and will continue to do so.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: For me, Toronto means unique communities working together to make a great City. I love living in east Scarborough with the Rouge Park and the waterfront trail on my doorstep. While I think my own community is a pretty remarkable place, I can't imagine Toronto with the Taste of the Danforth, the jazz festivals, the energy of downtown, all its restaurants, or the tranquility of High Park. Each community has something to offer and together they combine to make our City a vibrant place to live.

Kevin Richardson

46-year-old Kevin Richardson lists his jobs as a "Director of Operations, Corporate Division".

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

A: Transportation is a crucial issue for the people of Ward 44 as our ward is the most eastern section of Toronto and many people, including seniors and students, find that there is simply insufficient bus and transit service to cover the growing population of the ward. The Scarborough Subway needs to be expanded but unfortunately, due to political agendas North York continues to receive all the subway infrastructure dollars while Scarborough continues to be denied a proper transportation network.
Subsidized Housing v. Green Space and the loss of valuable green space is of particular interest to Ward 44 residents who feel betrayed by downtown politicians and their own retiring councillor who approved a fairly large subsidized housing project (Manse Valley) that is slated to be built in the ward. The City of Toronto has a horrendous record when it gets involved in subsidized housing often turning beautiful neighbourhoods into cesspools of criminality in the process.
Community Services are important to a great many people in Ward 44 to address the needs of youth, seniors and special needs residents. Youth services are crucial in order to engage teenagers and to teach them the value and duty of community living. Senior citizens for example, have given so much to the community and are still contributing members and we must do everything in our power to make their 'golden years' truly golden. Additionally, people with special needs are extremely vulnerable and need our community support in order to give them the opportunity to be the best that they can be. To this end an ultra modern Community Centre in the Highland Creek section of Ward 44 would be extremely beneficial in addressing the community needs of everyone living in Ward 44.

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

A: Commitment to our community is the biggest issue. The people of Ward 44 feel abandoned since the last two councillors that they elected refused to represent them to the fullest extent of their abilities. The incumbent, Gay Cowbourne, has now resigned after allowing her assistants to run the ward (to which they failed miserably). The previous councillor, Ron Moeser missed almost half of all crucial votes at City Hall during his lethargic tenure. Voters want someone who will represent them at City Hall and not someone who cannot even be bothered to show up except to collect their paycheques.

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

A: Essentially I grew weary of the miserable representation that Ward 44 was receiving from our elected councillors, current and previous. I knew that I was capable of working much harder than former councillor, Ron Moeser, who is trying to make a comeback of sorts and the current incumbent, Gay Cowbourne, who is retiring. As a result of my educational background and my extensive corporate experience and marketing panache, I am confident that I can make a difference in the political process for the people of Ward 44.
I want to see Ward 44 as the jewel of Toronto since Ward 44 is blessed with sensational parks, gorgeous ravines and outstanding views of Lake Ontario. I want to one day be able to walk down Kingston Rd and see beautiful office buildings and modern five star hotels and not used car lots and crummy run down motels that are used by the government for short term housing and by transients for their criminal activity. I want to prevent the agenda of certain downtown politicians who seek to expand subsidized housing and criminal halfway houses in Ward 44. I want to see the youth of Ward 44 become our future leaders and for seniors and special needs persons to be treated with respect and dignity.

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

A: Ward 44 is where I live. My mother used to regale us with stories about her childhood in West Hill (circa 1949) and the fruit farm that they used to live on beside the Crooked Creek Boy Scout Camp and the rural lifestyle that existed in those days. My grandfather's cousin was married to Joseph Reesor who in turn was responsible for introducing grandpa to the West Hill area. When I purchased my own home in 1998 due to the incredible natural beauty of the area, it was richly ironic that I had chosen my mom's old West Hill community.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: I am currently involved in the community by putting my modest writing talents to work writing articles, under the pen name: "Canada Kev" for New Canadians for a newspaper called: Likha, which targets people originally from the Philippines. Hopefully these articles, written from a Canadian perspective, will help New Canadians learn about our cultural lifestyles, traditions and our inclusive Canadian culture.
Additionally, for a number of years I have been upbraiding the mainstream Toronto media over their unfair and oftentimes biased characterization of Scarborough in relation to their crime reporting methods. For reasons unknown to most residents of Scarborough, the Toronto media seems to take a perverse delight in attacking Scarborough at every opportunity but when crime rears its' ugly head in North York or Etobicoke (these are all former boroughs of Toronto before amalgamation) the Toronto media continues to obscure the fact that crime is occurring at horrific rates there. What the media does to obscure the reality of criminality in North York and Etobicoke is to use code words, such as "Jane and Finch" or "Rexdale", rather than to use North York or Etobicoke when violent crime occurs there. Additionally, in many instances Scarborough is blamed for North York crime and I have forced the media on many occasions to retract inaccurate stories that wrongly identified Scarborough as crime scenes when in fact the crime occurred in North York and not Scarborough.
I feel quite strongly about this issue because this type of media coverage unfairly stigmatizes the residents of Scarborough and Ward 44 and adversely affects property values and the quality of life of her residents, and makes it easier for downtown politicians to deny services for Scarborough residents.
Please see my website at www.Ward44.ca for a more complete essay on this subject.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: When I think about Toronto I think about home. I think about my ancestors who came to this great city via Ireland and the British Army in the 1850s and who had the intelligence to settle here. Toronto is where I was born and it is where I will live, fate willing, for the rest of my life. Toronto literally means "Meeting Place" deriving its meaning from the First Nations People who traded here. Toronto is still the "Meeting Place" for people from all walks of life and ethnic and religious backgrounds and is rich in history and natural beauty.

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: There were no decisions that the City of Toronto implemented since the 2003 election that I am proud of. Our Ward 44 incumbent, Gay Cowbourne, won the 2003 election as a protest vote against the former councillor, Ron Moeser, who was known more for his chronic absenteeism and dismal voting record than in representing the people of Ward 44. Unfortunately, Ms. Cowbourne was not cut out for public life and delegated most of her duties to her paid assistants (who failed miserably in the process) and voted at City Hall according to the interests of the NDP bloc at City Hall and not for the residents of Ward 44. Ms. Cowbourne, not surprisingly, is retiring from politics and will not be seeking re-election.
I am disappointed with Council for concentrating almost exclusively on the Toronto Island Airport issue while the City of Toronto is on the brink of financial ruin with no long term plan to invest in the infrastructure of the city. The City of Toronto does not have the authority to stop the Toronto Airport Authority (which falls under the authority of the federal government) from expanding their operations thus wasting precious time and resources in the process.

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

A: First and foremost I would bring a dedication to the council position that Ward 44 has never had. I will be a strong voice for the people of Ward 44 at City Hall and will not be influenced by special interest groups or the agendas of political parties who rarely represent the local interests and concerns of a particular ward. Unlike Ron Moeser, who had his chance and failed miserably (Moeser was evicted from office by Ward 44 voters in 2003 due to his chronic absenteeism and his miserable voting record), I will be an extremely hard working councillor who will promote transparency and accountability at City Hall. I will bring both corporate and academic expertise to the table which I have obtained from my years at the University of Toronto and my extensive business background. I will bring a level of energy to City Hall that will be an inspiration for others to follow.
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