Electioneering hotting up

It may be subzero outside, but the electioneering in York South–Weston is already hotting up a bit.

Yafet Tewelde released a campaign video this week. Tewelde is seeking the nomination for the NDP.

Stephen Lepone, who received a drubbing as the Libertarian candidate in 2015, has announced his candidacy for the Conservatives–and he’s started a Twitter account.

Frances Nunziata has egg on her face

Frances Nunziata ended up with egg on her face after a Twitter blast yesterday from Chiara Padovani, her former rival for the Ward 5 seat.

Padovani pointed out that though Nunziata had promised to support affordable housing during the campaign, she voted against several homelessness and affordable-housing motions this week at City Council.

Nunziata voted against declaring a homelessness a state of emergency. She was following city staff advice–and voting with a substantial majority–when she did so. Staff said that Wong-Tam’s motion was a panicky reaction to “social and economic problems of an ongoing systemic nature that cannot be resolved in days, weeks or months.”

Nunziata also voted against making many new developments rent controlled, and against an amendment that would have made more of those units affordable and doubled the number of very deeply discounted units–and done so at enormous expense.

What to make of this? On the one hand, Padovani’s criticisms are sharp, and Nunziata did march with ACORN, the way-left anti-poverty group that was championing the amendments to the Housing Now plan.

On the other hand, we can probably be grateful the motion to spend hundreds of millions on 3700 rent-controlled units on 99-year leases was defeated. So, in this case, she voted responsibly.

Unlike Padovani, I’m not angry that Nunziata didn’t vote with ACORN. That was the right thing to do.

I’m disappointed that she ever gave the impression she would. Here we have proof positive that her campaign wasn’t honest. I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed.

Ahmed Hussen catches it again

Ahmed Hussen had another tough week last week.

Hussen’s department admitted late on a Friday that there is a problem in Toronto’s shelters, and that they are overcrowded due to refugee claimants. Hussen had said–falsely–that “the status of people seeking access to the shelter system in Toronto is unknown”.  He had also said (incorrectly) that the number of asylum seekers has declined 75% year-on-year.

Still, the department of he leads gave the city $15 million on Friday to cope with the crowding. Hussen, perhaps meaningfully, was not quoted on the press release.

Hussen has had an ongoing argument with Lisa MacLeod, his Ontario counterpart, that started last year when he said her tactics were “not Canadian”. He says she is “fear mongering”, and stoking “fear and division”. She took offense to that.

MacLeod has asked the feds to reimburse the province for the full cost of attending to refugee claimants, laying the blame  at their feet. She said she’d like the rest of the $200 million that she says the feds owe:


The $15 million in new funding follows $11 million given early last summer.

Ron Taverner back on the job with TPS

After a storm of controversy, Ron Taverner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto Police Service and is back on the job as north west district commander (Divisions 12, 23 and 31) that he left on Friday. On Saturday, Mr Taverner asked that his appointment as OPP Commissioner be put on hold pending the results of an inquiry (requested by the NDP) by the Integrity Commissioner.

Two days after the OPP Commissioner’s job was posted, the requirements (deputy police chief or higher) were lowered thus allowing Superintendent Taverner to apply and his selection, according to the Ontario Newsroom site, was the, “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario Public Service and supported by Odgers Berndtson, an executive search firm.”. Apparently 23 out of the 27 candidates for the job met the original requirements so lowering them was probably not merited on the basis of a shortage of candidates.

Acting OPP Commissioner (and fellow candidate for the job) Brad Blair cried foul on Taverner’s appointment and has since been demoted.

Many pundits have claimed that the fix was in and that Taverner’s friendship with Premier Ford was the reason for his appointment. Superintendent Taverner may well have been the best candidate to lead the OPP. Unfortunately, perceptions of the Premier’s large thumb on the scale have tainted his appointment and there is likely no going back regardless of the Integrity Commissioner’s report.

Council votes for pot shops

City Hall had to make some tough decisions this week, among them what to do about marijuana legalization. Council voted to allow regulated marijuana retailers, and to ask the province for the power to zone the stores.

Had Toronto voted to stay pot-free, we would have lost out on provincial money for police and bylaw enforcement.

Frances Nunziata got into some hot water for clumsily referring to the store in Weston that advertises it donates a portion of its proceeds to Black Lives Matter. Some thought that this was uncalled-for.

Hussen is well known, but not well liked

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, is well known but not well liked, according to a survey by Angus Reid.

Angus Reid asked those voters who could identify the ministers whether they were doing a good job or a bad job–thereby screening out the less informed.¹ They subtracted the bads from the goods, getting ratings between -36 (Amarjeet Sohi) and +20 (Chrystia Freeland).

From Angus Reid

Among the ten most-recognizable ministers, Hussen came in last. Liberal voters gave him a +18 rating, but 61% of non-Liberals think he is doing a bad job.

From Angus Reid

Hussen is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, and likely suffered because he has a tough portfolio. As Angus Reid notes,

This was a year when Canadians voiced significant concern about immigration and asylum claims, with many saying immigration levels were too high, and that the surge of irregular border crossings was reaching crisis levels.


¹ Like me. Can you name the Ministers of Democratic Institutions and Public Services, Procurement and Accessibility?

Ron Taverner’s Weston connection

As controversy builds around the appointment of local police Superintendent Ron Taverner (and friend of the Premier) as head of the OPP, the Toronto Star (via the paywall free ourwindsor.ca) has found that Mr Taverner purchased a home in Weston in July 2017. The deal was private with $550,000 changing hands for the home near Church and George.

The problem? The seller, Simone Daniels  worked for the Ford family business, Deco Labels, and is currently employed as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Premier.

In related news, the Globe and Mail reports that when Doug Ford was a Toronto councillor, he suggested to former Police Services Board Chair, Alok Mukherjee that his longtime friend would make a good Toronto Deputy Police Chief (Taverner did not apply for the job and was not appointed).

Rightly or wrongly, this steady drip of negative stories adds to the perception of strong connections between Doug Ford and Ron Taverner and a possible conflict of interest.

It will take great deal of determination to stare down this kind of pressure. My guess is that Mr Taverner (who has not commented publicly on the current brouhaha) may decide that the job isn’t worth the bother, plus,  he’ll probably not want to begin his new job under a cloud that will likely persist during his term of office.


Update: We’ve removed the picture, because that seems like the right thing to do.