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Where do they stand? Trinity-Spadina candidates answer your questions

September 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Compiled by Emina Gamulin, Mike Radoslav, and Lindsay Tsuji

Click on the links below for more information about Trinity-Spadina and our Q & A with the MPP candidates in the upcoming provincial election on Oct 6.

The Riding
Trin-Spa Statistics

The Candidates

Question 1: Helping families
Question 2: Fossil fuel-based transportation
Question 3: Alternative medicine
Question 4: 40 hours of community service??
Question 5: Amalgamation

Candidate debates this month in Trinity-Spadina

The Riding:

The Trinity-Spadina neighbourhoods include the Annex, Harbord Village, Seaton Village, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, parts of the University of Toronto, the harbourfront, and the Toronto Islands.

Trinity-Spadina’s geography. Source: Elections Ontario

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The statistics:

Population = 115,361 *
Number of electors = 95,363 *
Median income = $50,047 **
Political History:
2007 elections = New Democrat ***
2003 = New Democrat ***
1999 elections = New Democrat ***

* Cited from StatsCan 2006 census data
** Cited from StatsCan 2001 census data
*** Cited from Elections Ontario

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The candidates:

Rosario Marchese (incumbent, NDP)

Rosario Marchese ( incumbent) was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1990. He is the NDP’s critic for Education, Toronto Issues, and Training, Colleges and Universities. Raised in the heart of Trinity-Spadina, he studied at Harbord Collegiate (286 Harbord St.) and graduated from the University of Toronto with bachelor degrees in arts and education. Marchese worked as a teacher and served as a Toronto school board and public library board trustee. He helped local residents organize Ontario’s first condo owners association and has been a vocal defender of condo owners’ rights.

Tim Grant (Ontario Green Party)

Until his nomination, Tim Grant was the chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, where he led numerous tree-planting activities, and helped over 100 downtown households add solar panels to their rooftops. He continues to co-chair Tower Power Toronto, helping condo and co-op residents to green their buildings. Grant has been the co-editor of [Green Teacher ITAL] magazine for the past 20 years. A member of Karma Food Co-operative (739 Palmerston Ave.) and the Huron Community Garden, Grant and his partner Gail were early investors in the wind turbine at the Exhibition. They share their Trinity-Spadina home with a black and white cat who makes them laugh every day.

Sarah Thomson (Ontario Liberal Party)

Sarah Thomson, Trinity-Spadina’s Liberal party candidate, is former CEO and founder of Women’s Post Media, a print and online business magazine for women. She launched studioto.ca, which advocates for excellence in architecture and the protection of heritage buildings in Toronto after spending many years restoring old homes. Thomson ran for mayor of Toronto in 2010 because of her passion for her community and that passion has driven her to run for provincial parliament. She was born in Trinity-Spadina and is the daughter of an architect and an artist. Thomson stands for supporting our hospitals and senior care facilities, better transit in downtown Toronto, the redevelopment of Ontario Place to create local jobs, support for investments in green energy, and protection of our heritage buildings. She is running because she wants help build the foundation for a stronger Ontario for her children. Thomson lives downtown with her husband Greg and their two sons.

Mike Yen (Ontario Progressive Conservative Party)

Born and raised in the GTA, Mike Yen learned first-hand the benefits that strong and diverse cultures offer a city from the lessons passed from his great grandfather who immigrated to Toronto, from China. Yen translated his appreciation for cultural diversity into a Bachelor of Arts from York University—where he majored in History. For the last four years, Yen has called Trinity-Spadina home, where he has developed strong relationships within the community. As a 10-year federal civil servant, Mike has extensive experience working with troubled business and is well aware of the issues and problems that hinder the growth and prosperity of our business community.

Also running in Trinity-Spadina are Guy Fogel for the Socialist Party of Ontario and Silvio Ursomarzo, for the Freedom Party of Ontario. The Gleaner was unable to reach these candidates in time for this story.

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The Questions:

1. If elected how do you plan to support families with young children and does this plan involve more money for child and family services? BOLD
—Ruth Rosenblood, Children’s Storefront

Marchese: Many community members are profoundly worried about what services are going to be cut that will affect our social infrastructure, so this is a serious concern. I’ve been to The Children’s Storefront and they provide a wonderful service. It’s not a structured kind of environment that they have, but it’s a place where mothers and fathers and grandparents can come bring their children and they can do what they want. For just a little investment, communities have access to a centre like that that provides a creative place for them to be involved as parents grandparents and with children. It’s important to understand what they do and how critical they are to communities. We haven’t specifically said in our platform commitments that this is a program that needs to be funded, but I am a big supporter of that kind of program, and programs for families and children.

Grant: We’re strong supporters of the early childhood initiative, I wish that it involved more schools, but I think that’s a foundation that’s long overdue—especially in downtown neighbourhoods where child care spaces have been scarce. Early childhood education is an important foundation for everything that happens later in life. But there’s also a bunch of other factors involved here. One of the problems we have in Toronto—and especially in Trinity-Spadina—is that housing is unaffordable, and it’s often not available to families. We are asking to have 30 per cent of new condo units be made affordable for people like those needing larger units, instead of forcing them to move out to the suburbs.

Thomson: The Liberals have the early childhood education program—that’s full-day kindergarten and that’s a huge benefit. I have a four and five year old, so as a mother with children that age, it’s a huge asset to be able to put them into full-day kindergarten and it’s so good for their future education. That’s something happening here and now in our riding that I am a huge believer in, as well as more child care. [Premier Dalton] McGuinty had a meeting with our mayor, Rob Ford, and they were discussing more child care. I don’t know the details of that plan, but it sounds that going forward it will be a good plan for families—basically more child care positions. We’ve put in 60,000 child care positions in the last year, so it’s all moving forward.

Yen: The Ontario PC government is looking to give an immediate relief to families by taking the HST retirement charge off their home heating and hydro and making the smart meters optional. It’s too tough to afford the cost of living, and with McGuinty and his tax machines, it’s become more and more difficult in that regard, and families and businesses are really struggling with the high cost of energy. So hopefully this will help her out as well.

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2. What will you do to help Ontarians reduce their dependence on fossil fuel-based transportation?
—François Villeneuve

Marchese: We have announced that we would share the TTC operating costs 50/50. It’s something we used to do as governments, and we did it when I was a minister in 1990. We’re one of the few cities in the world that gets very little support from the province and/or federal government. It’s absolutely wrong. So the promise of sharing the costs with the cities is critical, and the only commitment we ask of the city is that they don’t increase the fare. We have to build that kind of infrastructure because if we have better access to the TTC system—whether its light rail, and/or subways—assuming that we can commit to federal governments to support us—then people will use it and they will get out of their cars. That doesn’t solve the problem of trucks and pollution, because that in my mind is a big, big problem. We attacked the government because they claimed to be the greenest ever in this province, and yet they were the ones that have allowed diesel trains. We need to commit ourselves to electrifying our rail system across Ontario, and indeed across Canada. People will stop using their cars if they have a better alternative. At the moment, we are not giving them a better alternative.

Grant: Trinity-Spadina is blessed with streetcar lines and subways, although not enough and not everywhere. The TTC itself doesn’t have the funds to provide the kind of service we really need. We need to start shifting monies away from new highway construction to transit, so that the system has the long-term, stable funding both to maintain a state of good repair and expand service. We think one per cent of the current $5.8 billion Ministry of Transportation budget should go to cycling infrastructure, and one per cent to pedestrian infrastructure, to create a fund that municipalities could apply to for projects. The other issue for us in Trinity-Spadina is GO Transit. With the rapid expansion westward of the train lines people will be subjected to a larger number of diesel trains. We believe that electrification of rail lines is not only urgent, but the additional cost of electrification can be paid for by covering over the tracks and selling the real estate above it, which from Dufferin Street all the way to Yonge would be quite valuable.

Thomson: I don’t know if you know this, but I ran for mayor of Toronto in the last election. I was a big subway advocate. I believe in public transit, especially in our downtown core. We’ve got $9 billion coming to Toronto, which is terrific. We’ve got an Eglinton [light rail] line, which will help reduce the reliance on the automobile. That’s one of the big things that I was just so happy about which was announced back in February or March, that it would go to the Eglinton [light rail], as well as the coal plants that we’re shutting down. We will be closing all coal plants by 2014. All of them. My father died of emphysema and pneumonia so it’s a personal issue for me.

Yen: We’re going to close all coal-fueled plants by 2014. The Ontario PC Party believes in green energy, but it has to be at a price that Ontario families can afford. Unfortunately, Dalton McGuinty’s green energy experiment is too much of a strain on families. So, again, it’s about providing immediate relief and getting away from the coal plants. We plan on investing in the city. We’re going to take the gas tax and invest it in transit infrastructure.

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3. “What does the Ministry of Health do to encourage research on medicines you can’t patent, things that already exist like vitamins, amino acids, metabolic co-factors, etc.? Is it enough? Is it feasible to do more?”
—Jason Skomorowski

Marchese: The fact that you have patents for 20 years, in my mind, has always been a problem. That makes that product very expensive until generics are able to get in. [Drugs] comprise about 15 per cent of our overall health costs, which means its incredibly expensive and it has become a growing expensive problem in this province. That’s something governments have to tackle a little more effectively to bring down the costs. But what kind of research does the government do in non-patent areas? I think we probably don’t do very much. Mainly, I suspect, because it’s a very expensive thing to do, I think there isn’t much research in the non-patent areas. When you are not in [the party that forms the] government you don’t have access to research in terms of what they do. Could more be done? I suspect so. I suspect there are a number of problems, which makes this a very challenging area of study.

Grant: Traditionally the role of the Ministry of Health has largely been dealing with the safety of drugs and the efficacy of drugs, but what we haven’t done is paid enough attention to non-invasive, non-drug treatments that can also be supportive of greater public health. I’m not aware of how much the Ministry of Health currently spends on investigating non-drug treatments, but I would certainly endorse them doing so. One of the ways Trinity-Spadina is different, from my personal experience, is that we have a much greater interest in public health, and in personal health, and people are more knowledgeable and do seek out alternatives. It does behoove us as a government to make sure all non-invasive drug and medical treatments meet the standards of care that we demand of drug treatments, that they don’t cause harm, and when taken in reasonable doses they promote health.

Thomson: I’m a big promoter of naturopathy, I saw it firsthand in my father when he was ill. The Ministry of Health is looking [at it] and they’re actually accepting naturopathic medicine as a credible alternative. That’s something that I’m so proud of that we’ve done. We’re the first government to actually see it as a credible source of healing and a method to reduce reliance on hospitalization and drugs. I think there is so much more we can do to give acceptance to that area of naturopathy that has been overlooked for years and years and years.

Yen: With regards to health, we’re planning on investing $6.1 billion to our health system and we’re going to be investing that into front-line care. Unfortunately under the McGuinty government we’ve seen more and more investment into administration. So with further investment in health care we should be able to increase front-line services.

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4. “Please comment on the current state of the high school 40 hour community service requirement for students as introduced by the Harris government. What, if anything, would you do differently?”
—David Perlman

Marchese: [The requirement] forces students to think about the larger community because most students don’t think beyond what they need to do in school, and sometimes they think school doesn’t really connect to their real life experiences, or real issues they’re facing at the moment.  It would be good to do a study of all that students have done, like we do with exit polling, to find out how their experience has been and how we can improve it. But overall, I think the idea is a good one and doing 40 hours of community service is good for all of us.

Grant: I think this was a good, tiny first step, but I think our high school system betrays the developmental needs of high school kids. I’m a big advocate of changing the curriculum at the high school level so that kids are much more engaged in community projects and improving the life of their communities. When kids are involved in community projects they themselves develop a greater enthusiasm for the learning they are doing back in the classroom in support of that project, and they start to care about subjects they didn’t previously.  We should start with pilot projects that eventually move to 10 per cent of the curriculum spent outside in the community, not just 40 hours, where teams of teachers would work together to create projects for students.

Thomson: It gives them a chance to get out there in the working environment and I think that’s great. Some students need that; some students already have that because they’re already working. I think it’s a really good plan, [I would] maybe allow some students more hours, so they could get credit for their hours. Because of my background, I left school quite early, in grade 11, and then I had to go back and take it through night courses. I found certain people learn differently and apprenticeship is a great way to learn.

Yen: The Ontario PC government would fully invest in education and we want to give teachers a little bit more freedom in making decision for their classrooms. So it’s about investing in our education and giving a little bit more freedom. I think community services are great for students. It’s great for them to get out there and experience things outside the classroom. I know we have a lot of students who volunteer on my campaign and they’re learning quite a bit and they’re making a lot of great connections in the community. And they may be learning things that they may not be learning in school.

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5. “Given recent votes and voting patterns at City Hall, do you support reversing the amalgamation foisted upon Toronto by Mike Harris?”
—Hamish Wilson

Marchese: I think Mike Harris destroyed our city. I think amalgamation has made it incredibly complex. We used to have a process where people could go to a city and have much more influence on their city, whether it was East York, Toronto, North York and so on. When you made it into one huge city of 2.6 million it has become complex and difficult, and citizens are not able to influence the City of Toronto as they could in the old days. I would love to break it up again, but I’m not quite sure that it’s easy to do. And if there was a better way we could give more access to citizens by the city to be able to influence policy direction, I would love to be able to study that. But to break it up again would be yet another destructive or hurtful move for the City of Toronto. [Going back] would create problems yet again that would have to be solved once again, so the best thing we could do is improve this structure that has been hoisted upon us.

Grant: I certainly support an honest review of de-amalgamation, but ultimately these are initiatives that must be citizen-driven. We should provide people with a reasoned debate so in the cold light of day, with the facts before them, they can make a decision. This would help to determine whether we go back to six municipalities, or maybe we go back to four. However I think we speak too much about differences, there is a recognition that all corners of Toronto need equal access to services and good transit and need public investment in infrastructure. This would help the people in the corners of Toronto address the same needs as those living downtown.

Thomson: I’m not for going backwards. I think we are still suffering from amalgamation not being transitioned effectively, but I believe that there is still work to be done, and I believe that if we can do it effectively the city could get more benefit from it. I don’t know if you know that we’ve uploaded services such as our drug benefits program. There has been a lot of uploading from the municipalities back to the McGuinty government. That was an agreement that was done in 2009, so it has just come through. And that uploading does help. Services like the drug benefit program, disability support, work benefits program, court security costs. Those things have been uploaded.

Yen: The City of Toronto has a lot of tough decisions to make and the Ontario PC government will work with every municipality including Toronto to make sure that we’re able to deliver services to the best we can working together.

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Who wants a debate?

Candidates for the provincial Trinity-Spadina seat will have many chances to compel and rally their would be constituents at all-candidates debates and forums this month.

On Sept 14, the Trinity-St. Paul’s Church’s (427 Bloor St. W.) debate will be moderated by Rory Sinclair, chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association. It is being co-sponsored by the Annex, Seaton Village, Harbord Village and Huron-Sussex Residents’ Associations, and the Harbord Street and Bloor-Annex BIAs.

On the 15th, the University of Toronto Students Union is hosting their all-candidates debate from 2 to 4 p.m. The debate takes place at Hart House (15 Hart House Circle).

If education issues are your thing, check out the forum at Central Technical School (730 Bathurst St.) on the 20th, which begins at 7 p.m.

The next night, Sept. 21, the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association (BQNA) and the York Quay Neighbourhood Asoociation (YQNA) will host their all-candidate event. Taking place at the Harbourfront Community Centre (627 Queen’s Quay W.), the debate occurs from 7 p.m. to 10  p.m. and will be moderated by local artist Alice Norton.

On Sept. 24, at the Financial Services Building at 290 Adelaide Street East, the Make it Count! Festival will feature live entertainment, voter education, a workshop on Provincial policy 101, and an all-candidates debate. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Event begins at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.ontarioyouthmatter.ca and www.rockthevotecanada.ca.

On Sept. 27, starting at 8 p.m., Rogers Television will broadcast a Trinity-Spadina debate. Check your TV listings for the correct channel, it varies depending on the cable provider.

Finally, on Sept. 28 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., the Friends of Christie Pits and Christie Pits Residents’ Association will host their debate. It will take place at Bob Abate Recreation Centre (485 Montrose Ave.) at 7 p.m.

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Tags: News · General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Thor Skaftason // Oct 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I think Mr. Yen is on top.