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.

Jilian Saweczko having hard time keeping story straight

Jilian Saweczko’s campaign headquarters told me she didn’t attend yesterday’s debate because she had “emergency things planned before the debate.” While planned emergencies are weird enough, Saweczko’s story is getting ever weirder: Now the candidate says that she skipped the debate because she was “out knocking on doors”–not because she was attending to an emergency.

Sawezcko’s absence is part of a larger trend among Conservative candidates, which has even drawn the notice of Michael Ignatieff, who criticized “no-shows in the Greater Toronto area.” Ignatieff said to the Globe and Mail, “‘These excuses strain credulity. I think it’s just absolutely basic to democratic politics, you show up.”

Conservatives in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta have also been skipping debates.

Mike Sullivan, the NDP candidate for York South-Weston, said, “I’m disappointed, but not surprised. The previous candidate says the orders were from the top not to participate.” Alan Tonks (Liberal) and Sonny Day (Green) were contacted for comment, but they have not replied.

Sonny Day also missed yesterday’s debate, reportedly due to illness. He has not yet responded to emails asking for clarification.

Jilian Saweczko misses another debate

Despite just apologizing for missing the all-candidates debate last week, Jilian Saweczko, the Conservative candidate for York South–Weston, skipped a second debate today. This debate was at Weston Collegiate.

A volunteer at Saweczko’s office said, “She had some emergency things planned before the debate. She had other engagements”, but would offer no other details.

Jilian Saweczko apologizes for missing last week’s debate

Jilian Saweczko has apologized for missing last week’s all candidates debate. She was asked to do so by the Mount Dennis Residents’ Association, on behalf of the four associations that organized the debate.

The campaign office says, in a somewhat cryptic email, that Saweczko had been informed that the debate was cancelled. Saweczko had Tweeted the correct address and location the same day of the event, however, in an expression of her enthusiasm.

I have asked the office several times who had informed them that the debate was cancelled, and whether Saweczko had been the victim of a dirty trick. They have not answered.

Her email follows.

Yes, Jilian posted on the internet about being excited about the upcoming debates.

Jilian was invited to two debates last Wednesday, one in the afternoon hosted by a high school and one in the evening and then another one this week.

Please accept Jilian Saweczko’s apology for not attending the all-candidates meeting last week. We had no idea that she had missed it…. As noted above, she was scheduled for two debates on April 13th and our office was informed that one was postponed to April 20th and the other cancelled. She arrived at the afternoon one to find out it was rescheduled to the 20th and unfortunately that meant yours had been cancelled based on the information that we had.

Jilian was scheduled to attend the evening event and a handful of volunteers had also planned on attending and Jilian was extremely disappointed that she missed it.

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.