Tomorrow will be decision day for all mayoral and councilor wannabes in Toronto and other Ontario municipalities. Two front-runners have squared off in heated debates over this hot seat in the run up to the Council elections, and some of the contentious issues on the table have been transportation, affordability, community safety, economic development and employment.
Although the current Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, is hugely popular in Toronto as a fiercely hard-working, honest, flexible and forward-thinking leader, who has taken Toronto to new heights after its tarnished international image following his predecessor’s legacy, the road to re-election for Tory is not a bed of roses.
Crime has escalated in Toronto, housing is anything but affordable, and whatever gets done to ease the transport congestion in Canada’s financial capital, it’s just never enough given the large scale of migrants – both domestic and foreign – to this promising city of Canada.
Former chief City Planner of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, has emerged as a rival to Tory; however, it remains to be seen if Torontonians will place their confidence of running their booming city in the hands of a relative newcomer to politics. When asked what Toronto voters should know about her and her vision for the city, here is what she said:
“I believe that we truly need leadership that will raise the bar, stand up for Toronto and fight to make our city more affordable, safe, and liveable for everyone. I am running for Mayor because I believe a bolder vision is needed. I know what it takes to get things done at City Hall — you have to have a clear vision, a practical strategy for how to get things done, and the knowledge of how to execute that plan. We have some big issues facing our city that require immediate action and strong leadership to solve, and what I’m offering is a clear plan to get to work immediately to make housing more affordable, to ensure our streets and neighbourhoods are safer, and to fast-track our city’s most important transit project: The Relief Line subway. As I laid out in my 100 Day Action Plan, in my first 100 days in office, I would take bold action on pressing issues, including: Assigning a full-time, dedicated team to fast-track work on Relief Line; start work on tearing down the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis; start building 100,000 purpose-built affordable rental homes; make streets and school zones safe through reduced speed limits and design improvements; and bring gender fairness to leadership positions at City Hall. A Mayor who has clear priorities and the expertise necessary to get things done can act immediately on a number of the most pressing issues facing our city. In my first 100 days, that’s exactly what I would do.”
As for veteran John Tory, he needs no introduction. In his own words, he reminded Torontonians of his achievements in the last four years:
“Four years ago, Toronto wanted leadership that worked. I was elected because people wanted me to get on with the job of building transit, keeping taxes low and to work with the other levels of government. People wanted a leader who would work hard to make their lives better. People wanted their city to work for them. That’s what I’ve done and it’s what I will continue to do. It’s about standing up for the people of Toronto and working together to get things done. And though there remains much to be done, we’ve made that happen.”
As the polls close tomorrow and results start to trickle in, Toronto will be redefined in terms of dealing with the challenges and roadblocks that demand immediate attention.