Thursday, August 28, 2014

Toronto Needs to Take Action on Poverty!

Toronto needs to take serious steps to deal with our growing levels of poverty and inequality and its politicians need to stop paying mere lip service to doing something about it. Shocking and shameful statistics released recently show:

After gradually declining to 27 per cent in 2010 from a high of 32 per cent in 2004, the city’s child poverty rate has increased once again.

In some areas it’s much worse: 15 of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods have child poverty rates of 40 per cent or more, while 40 have poverty rates of 30 per cent or more.

In fact, among Canada’s 13 major cities, Toronto tied with Saint John, N.B., as having the highest poverty rate, according to the analysis of new Statistics Canada data by a coalition of social agencies.

A municipal living minimum wage, a serious affordable housing strategy and landlord licensing, fighting for fare free transit and to eliminate user fees; these are just a few of the initiatives Toronto needs to really do something to change this unacceptable situation. 

What Toronto does not need is more platitudes, studies and committees! It needs action.

As part of my campaign for real change and action at City Hall, on August 28, 2014 I signed the "Action on Poverty Candidate's Pledge" of the Alliance for a Poverty-Free Toronto.

Together, we can end poverty in our communities and neighbourhoods! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FREE & Better Transit!

FREE & Better Transit!

As your City Councillor I will fight to see the Waterfront West LRT plan brought back to connect our neighbourhood with Toronto's downtown in a faster and easier direct route. 

I will work to integrate GO Transit and TTC routes within the city so that people can use the Lakeshore GO line as if it was a subway. 

I will also fight against any agenda to raise fares and will work towards FREE transit, which should be the environmental and social goal of any government.

If Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) and other cities in the world can have FREE or truly affordable transit, so can Toronto!

-Another preview from our main campaign leaflet coming this fall!

For more information on my transit plan, check out my transit page:

Join the Fight!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We are Torontonians NOT taxpayers! Say NO to the corporate agenda of service & wage cuts!

A large part of the corporate agenda of service cuts, privatization and stopping government from taking action on issues like poverty and inequality is the myth that taxes are too high and that our governments have a spending problem as opposed to what they really have, which is a revenue problem!

By constantly pushing to cut taxes or to keep taxes low for corporations or the rich, the right-wing hopes to rob governments and the people of the ability to build new programs and a more just and inclusive Toronto.

Unwilling to stand up to the corporate tax cutting agenda, "mainstream", do-nothing politicians use slogans of "fiscal responsibility" to claim that important programs like free transit, building affordable housing, living wage ordinances, ending user fees and so many others are not possible, even though they ARE possible and exist elsewhere!

But they are not possible if we continue to pander to the business community, the wealthy and their lobbyists.

Today I received a survey from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, a group whose website speaks for itself as to what they wish to accomplish and where they stand:

I made it clear that that is not where I stand, and responded with answers that reflect my belief that we are Torontonians and a community and that this is not defined by the word "taxpayer"!

I share my answers with you here now:

1.    Do you support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation?
 No. This is a terrible idea given the many programs and infrastructure needs facing the city. I do, however, support mitigating property tax hikes by working for the implementation of a city progressive income tax, creating a property surtax on the luxury homes of the wealthy and through the imposition of road tolls on non-residents entering the city by car, among other things. 
2.    Where, specifically, do you advocate finding savings in the current city budget?
I do not regard this as a priority. Rob Ford's gravy train turned out to be a myth, as I predicted in 2010, and searching out so-called "waste" really usually means cutting programs. 
3.    Do you support reducing the size of Toronto City Council?  Do you believe this would improve how Council operates?
No. Reducing the size of City Council means reducing political representation and power for Torontonians and our diverse local communities and neighbourhoods. Why would anyone support this? 
4.    Will you support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street?  Are there other services you feel contracting out would give taxpayers a better deal?
 No. To quote my campaign website:
A fundamental part of the right wing austerity agenda is to make public services private. Eventually they would like to see all government privatised and run for the profit of corporations and Bay St. instead of for the needs of the community. They want to drive down wages and make the people pay for what should be free services.
If elected to council I will fight not only against the further privatization of any public services, including garbage collection, but also to put back into public hands all services that have been privatized. 

5.    What are your thoughts on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax - will you support reducing it or eliminating it?
 I support it. 
6.    Toronto's unemployment rate is much higher than the provincial rate.  What are your ideas to create job growth in Toronto?
We need a job creation plan centred around the building of new infrastructure and transit (both of which would create many new, good-paying jobs), new city programs and services and the stimulus to the local economy that would result from bringing in a municipal minimum wage of $15 an hour and a Living Wage Ordinance. Workers, unlike the well-to-do and the wealthy, spend most of their income on food, services, entertainment, etc and do so in their local communities.
The is no better job creation stimulus plan than living wages for all! 
7.    It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show.  How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?
I believe in using dedicated revenue streams such as the ones listed above to fund transit expansion as well as a universal fare reduction strategy with the goal of free transit as exists in Tallinn, Estonia. I will fight to get the province and federal government to pay their fair share of this, in part by diverting funds used to subsidize car usage. 
I also believe that LRTs provide better service for far less money for most (though not all) neighbourhoods and I would support reverting to the original plan for a Scarborough LRT. 
8.    Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term.  What advice do you have for the city's negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?
I am opposed to the disgraceful race-to-the-bottom wage cutting agenda of Bay St. City workers work hard and deserve fair and regular wage and benefit increases. No one in the community benefits when wages are cut and money is taken out of the economy.  
9.    Do you see opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) involving the City of Toronto? Where, specifically?
10.  What is the top issue of concern for residents in your ward?  What will you do as Councillor to address the issue?​
Transit. As Councillor I will work to bring back the Waterfront West LRT plan for our community and for an affordable transit fare agenda for the TTC whose goal would be free transit. 
Needless to say, I do not anticipate their endorsement.

Toronto needs a new agenda for the city. An optimistic agenda centred around community and collective goals and that does not accept the destructive agenda of corporations or the do-nothing excuses of the well-payed "mainstream' politicians or want-to-be politicians.

This agenda is the opposite of the cruel and ugly agenda of constant cutbacks and accepting poverty wages and poverty in our communities that we have now.

Together we can do better!

(For more information on why I feel that tax cuts hurt people and help the rich and the corporations, please see the following links: )

photo courtesy of wikimedia commons