Fool me once…

Google the phrase ‘Conservative candidates missing from debates 2011’ and you will find a veritable treasure trove of Tory candidates skipping out on debates. Here in York South Weston, Conservative candidate Jilian Saweczko, running against Sonny Day, Mike Sullivan and Alan Tonks has missed the two held so far. Either this is a brazen contempt for voters or an attempt to hide an embarrassing ineptitude at public speaking – neither of which is the hallmark of a suitable candidate.

Perhaps Conservative candidates are taking a page from the playbook of Julian Fantino who, despite a similar absence from all debates, managed to squeak into first place in a by-election held in Vaughan last year. This year, he continues to absent himself hoping to repeat his good fortune.

These two are not alone. All over the country, a disturbing number of Conservative candidates are unwilling to face the people and answer questions. In the end, it is up to voters to judge the meaning of all this but as the old saying goes; Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

 

Mike Sullivan Responds.

As readers will remember, just prior to the federal election candidate’s debate at Mount Dennis Legion, WestonWeb emailed each candidate a set of questions including those submitted by readers. NDP candidate Mike Sullivan is the first to respond; here are his unedited answers.

1. What has been your biggest contribution to the York South Weston community?

Mike Sullivan: I have been instrumental in getting changes to the Air Rail Link proposal, the most recent of which was the decision to go electric.

2. If your party forms the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

Mike Sullivan: I will seek infrastructure funding to create jobs, and to build community assets such as a community centre. I will create better and more transparent immigration rules.  I will create more child care spaces. I will make it easier for kids to attend university.  I will make home heating and electricity more affordable.  I will lobby for changes to pension indexing which take real seniors costs into account. The list of what the riding needs is endless.

3. If your party does not form the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

Mike Sullivan: I will lobby for infrastructure funding to create jobs.  If it is a minority government, we will seek the above changes as well.

4. What are the three biggest obstacles facing York South Weston in 2011?

Mike Sullivan: The lack of jobs.  The lack of DayCare.  The costs of taxes to seniors and low income groups. The sorry state of our social housing stock.

5. What can you and your party do to overcome these obstacles?

Mike Sullivan: See above

6. Does York South Weston receive a fair share of Federal money in your opinion?

Mike Sullivan: Absolutely not.  The only money we have received is $385 Million from the former Liberal government to build a train that will destroy neighbourhoods and that nobody here can use.

7. Do you live in York South Weston? If not, why not?

Mike Sullivan: Yes

8. In what ways has Alan Tonks performed well as our MP?

Mike Sullivan: He’s made lots of friends.

9. In what ways could Alan Tonks have performed better as our MP?

Mike Sullivan: He could have secured some of the billions of infrastructure money for a community centre in Weston, for our roads, etc.  He could be advocating for the poor and our seniors.  He could have tried to create real jobs in the riding.  He could have supported our community housing needs.  The list of things he could have done, but has not, is almost endless.

10. What has the current federal government done for York South Weston?

Mike Sullivan: Nothing

11. What has the current government failed to do for York South Weston?

Mike Sullivan: It has failed to provide the infrastructure funding, and the social supports we need.  It has made immigration and family reunification a minefield for applicants.  It has failed to create jobs.

12. What makes you the best person for the job of our MP?

Mike Sullivan: I live here, I care about what happens. I have the negotiating skills necessary to get us what we need.

Reader questions:

13. I would like to add why Alan Tonks votes against his party most of the time such as same-sex marriage does he believe in the Charter? Is really a Libs or Cons!?

14. What will our elected MP do to help increase the federal transfer payments to the province which fund our health care? What has our current MP done with regards to this issue?

Mike Sullivan: I will ensure that our health care system is not bled dry as the previous Liberal government tried to do in the 90’s.  It still hasn’t recovered properly and it needs sustained increased funding.

15. What will our elected MP do to ensure that health care services & delivery to the citizens of weston will increase in quality & speed? both now at the understaffed church site and when the super hospital at keele & the 401 is built and the church site closes its emergency department as a result?

Mike Sullivan: Most of these issues are controlled by the present Liberal Provincial government. I will ensure that the Canada Health Act is maintained and strenghtened.  I will ensure that proper funding flows from the Federal government to the provinces.  I will lobby for new services, such as pharmacare and dental care for children be added to the Canada Health care mix.

16. Which candidates live within Weston? and therefore are affected by current policies & will be affected by future policies which they may influence as a member of parliament? In short, which candidates have a direct personal stake in the welfare of Weston because they primarily reside in Weston?

Mike Sullivan: I live here.

17. I just wanted to ask to question candidates do think the riding boundaries should change? Like move the eastern boundary to Jane Street?

Mike Sullivan: The riding is very large, and the boundaries will change when new seats are added to Ontario.  Moving the eastern boundary to Jane street sounds like a good idea.



All Candidates Debate

The all-candidates debate for Federal election candidates was held at the Mount Dennis Legion on Wednesday, April 13th.

The event was well organized and attended with a well-structured questioning process which allowed both neighbourhood organizations and individuals a chance to address the candidates. An air of respect and courtesy was evident throughout the evening due mainly to the comportment of the candidates who answered questions without resorting to negativity, and the audience’s interest in listening to the candidates. It was evident that everyone was there to exchange and receive information rather than engage in the discussion of preconceived ideas. The Mount Dennis Legion should be congratulated for their contribution to the democratic process by hosting this event.

Unfortunately there was one negative aspect to the evening; the non-participation of the Conservative candidate who apparently had a more pressing engagement which prevented her from meeting with ordinary voters and responding to uncensored questions. Her empty chair stood as a testament to the discomfort the Conservatives seem to have with Toronto. No doubt voters will return the favour at the ballot box.

The other candidates showed an interest in helping Weston area residents and a knowledge of our needs. All three as stated above presented a professional attitude. Of the three, Sonny Day (Green Party), Mike Sullivan (New Democratic Party) and Alan Tonks (Liberal), Sonny came across as a genuinely nice man who demonstrated a generosity of spirit when he praised the good work Mike Sullivan has done for Weston. Mike came across as well prepared, confident, professional and articulate. Many of his answers met with the approval of the audience. Alan Tonks as the elder statesman of the group was suave and well-spoken. Unfortunately, he has developed and perfected the career politician’s habit of restructuring questions while answering them, thereby never really addressing questioners’ concerns. As a non-resident, he suffers in comparison to the other two candidates. Hopefully Weston has matured beyond the need to be represented by gentleman candidates who claim to know our concerns better than we do. It might be time to be represented by one of our own.

Each of the candidates had winning moments, the best was Sonny’s answer to a question about Harper’s proposed purchase of jet fighters designed for aircraft carriers (Canada has none). He won loud applause when he stated that Canada needs to purchase military equipment that meets Canada’s needs; ‘We are not a northern branch of the U.S. Air Force’.

Mike Sullivan had a lot of solid ideas on how to improve the Weston area and received loud applause many times throughout the evening. He stated that the proposed airport express should be an above ground subway line serving all of the communities along the line. This would be a good step towards bringing Toronto’s transportation system in line with other world cities which are extensively served by rapid public transit. Alan’s major good point was that he claims to be working to bring a campus of George Brown College to Weston, a great way to stimulate the Weston economy.

Overall, all three candidates did well but if one were to pick a winner it would have to be Mike Sullivan who presented clear answers and was able to point out some of Alan Tonks’ worse decisions as a Member of Parliament. As an experienced advocate for the Weston area, he is the most closely tied to the community and its improvement. Tonks came across as smooth and professional which is fine if Weston is happy with the status quo and sees no need for improvement. Sonny Day is well-intentioned and would certainly be a breath of fresh air in Ottawa.

Questions For Federal Candidates – Election is on Monday, 2nd May 2011.

Before submitting these questions to our major Federal Election candidates, Weston Web invites readers to add their own through the comments facility of this article. These will be added to the list and presented to candidates on Wednesday, April 13. Responses from candidates will be published as they are received.

The candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Sonny Day – Green

Jilian Saweczko – Conservative

Mike Sullivan – NDP

Alan Tonks – Liberal

Questions:

1. What has been your biggest contribution to the York South Weston community?

2. If your party forms the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

3. If your party does not form the next government, what will you do to help your constituency?

4. What are the three biggest obstacles facing York South Weston in 2011?

5. What can you and your party do to overcome these obstacles?

6. Does York South Weston receive a fair share of Federal money in your opinion?

7. Do you live in York South Weston? If not, why not?

8. In what ways has Alan Tonks performed well as our MP?

9. In what ways could Alan Tonks have performed better as our MP?

10. What has the current federal government done for York South Weston?

11. What has the current government failed to do for York South Weston?

12. What makes you the best person for the job of our MP?

Nunziata and the Board of Health

The Toronto Board of Health makes some important decisions regarding health matters in Toronto. A letter from Councillor Frances Nunziata questioning the efficacy of fluoridation was received by the Board in January. The councillor’s letter made some unsubstantiated suggestions that fluoridation of Toronto’s water may not only be ineffective but actually harmful. This is the same sort of unscientific nonsense that surfaces from time to time and is sometimes taken seriously with potentially devastating effects.

The anti-flouridation movement seems to have been spearheaded by some right-wing, tin-foil hatted groups. These people equated fluoridation with government interference and other socialist plots. Fluoride is a poison, according to them, and doesn’t belong in drinking water. They forget that fluoridation (like chlorination of water) has huge and proven benefits.

Incidentally, removing fluoride would most affect the poor and the young. Not a great idea for Weston. The City of Waterloo voted to remove fluoride from the water supply last year after an extensive fear-mongering campaign led to a narrow referendum vote against fluoridation. Dentists in that city now fear an epidemic of cavities and gum disease.

Thankfully, our Board of Health bases its decisions on scientific evidence and voted unanimously to recommend continued fluoridation of Toronto’s drinking water. We hope our councillor can think twice before giving credence to similar dangerous groups.

Another Licence Application Challenged

Councillor Frances Nunziata is seeking to protect us from another licensed restaurant, this time at 1784 Jane Street. According to our councillor, complaints were received regarding ‘drug activity, late night noise, and late-night construction’ at this address.

It seems that the previous tenant is in rent arrears and so is probably not behind the application to open a licensed restaurant.

With the public not having access to the complaints in question, the councillor may be treading on shaky ground. Are the complaints legitimate? If so, why visit upon the new tenants the sins of the old ones? Is this unnecessarily impeding the birth of fledgling businesses? Certainly, our police are capable of enforcing laws and responding to noise complaints, yet this is the second straight month that the councillor has opposed a licence application in York South Weston. If a licensed restaurant is not in compliance with the law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) can fine them up to $5000, suspend or revoke their license. A restaurant could continue to operate but would not be allowed to serve alcohol.

There are some important issues here that need to be addressed:

  1. When politicians oppose liquor licence applications, the process should be transparent so that business owners (and the public) know that allegations are genuine (and not someone else’s fault) while protecting the identity of the complainants.
  2. A few vocal residents should not be allowed to impede the improvement of our community.
  3. Jane Street and Weston Road are commercially zoned and desperately in need of vibrant thriving businesses. Perhaps councillor Nunziata could share her vision for these streets and what she is doing to attract businesses that meet her approval.

Weston Treasures: Weston GO Station

Weston is lucky to have access to downtown in 17 minutes via the GO train. Just to put that in perspective, TTC subway from Royal York to Union involves a line change and takes 33 minutes on a good day. Property values around Royal York Station are astronomical in no small part because of the subway. Here in Weston, we can get downtown in half the time and don’t have to change trains. The only thing faster to downtown than the GO from Weston is a helicopter. Unfortunately GO’s service is a commuter run only with 7 Union Station bound trains in the morning and 6 Weston bound trains in the evening (go figure).

According to InsideToronto.com about 450 people get on or off at Weston each day. Assuming that most are on a return trip, that’s fewer than 250 actual people. The lack of parking at the station has long been cited as a problem. Weston’s GO station’s new location just south of Lawrence Avenue later this year may help. The relocation will almost double the number of parking spots to 200 and access will be from Weston Road. A temporary platform will be in place by November and a fully functioning station, platforms and even more parking will be ready for the opening of the Airport Rail Link in 2015. GO transit is anticipating an increase in ridership from Weston with the additional parking spots and a doubling of service levels in 2015 by which time the Airport Rail Link will be making stops here too. With electrification of the line, the service will be quieter and even faster.

The new Weston GO station should help revitalize the Village of Weston as 2015 approaches, if it’s constructed to reflect the wishes of the community. Congratulations and thanks should be extended to those fighting for a better implementation of the Airport Link stop as well as to those fighting for electrification.