Faisal Hassan considering NDP leadership run

Faisal Hassan, our former MPP who narrowly lost to Michael Ford, is considering a run for the leadership of the NDP, according to The Star.

An MPP who lost his York South-Weston seat by just 796 votes to Progressive Conservative Michael Ford — the premier’s nephew — said he is also mulling a leadership bid.

“I know I’m not part of the party establishment,” Faisal Hassan told the Star, saying more racial diversity is needed in the contest. Hassan said he was discouraged he didn’t get more help from other NDP candidates in the GTA who won their ridings by comfortable margins.

Debate report

Wednesday night’s debate was extremely well attended. The hall at Weston Park Baptist Church was full, and the audience was very engaged. Faisal Hassan (NDP), Tom Hipsz (New Blue), Nadia Guerrera (Liberal), and James Fields (Independent) attended.

The questions covered social supports, the environment, flooding, the Eglinton Crosstown, and housing, among other things. In general, the responses were unsurprising: both the Liberal and NDP candidates promised much and differed only in details, such as what the minimum wage would be and how rent control would work. Their promises were expensive, too: I’m not sure either of the leading candidates said they wouldn’t fund a program, whether it was tunnelling under the Eglinton Flats or a universal basic income.

I do wish someone had asked about debts, deficits, and how the candidates planned to pay for their promises. I also wish Michael Ford had attended—but he did not. Perhaps he would have had a more fiscally-conservative plan.

I was also hoping there would be a decisive moment or a victor, but Nadia Guerrera and Faisal Hassan sparred only infrequently and there was no mortal blow that settled the contest. In fact, the candidates were almost always very generous with one another. At one point, Guerrera even applauded Hipsz, her very conservative competitor, while Hassan was nodding in agreement.

Guerrera did fire on the NDP at a few points, saying that Hassan and his party have not been an effective opposition. In her concluding remarks, she said “This is our moment to decide what matters, to be visionary and aspirational… The NDP did not hold [the Ford] government to account and will not prevent them from forming another Conservative majority”. It was, perhaps, the most stirring moment of the night, but also, perhaps, a concession that the Liberals are trailing in the race and will not form the government.

Hassan criticized the record of past Liberal governments, especially regarding our riding. He said “we have seen the promises they made with respect to electrification and the UP Express” and “the record of the Liberals and the Conservatives when it comes to the environment is horrible”. In his closing comments he said “we cannot count on Michael Ford to stand up to his uncle, or on Steven Del Duca to fix the mess they made—or even to win his seat.”

Both Hassan and Guerrera were extremely well prepared, with an excellent command of the issues and their parties’ platforms.

Tom Hipsz and James Fields were, I think it’s safe to say, a little less polished. (I don’t blame them. I’m a pretty big YSW nerd, and I was lost much of the time.) Both of them were exceedingly good sports. Hipsz often tilted at green-power “windmills”, and COVID mandates (he was maskless the whole night). He also admitted when he didn’t know the answer to a question, which I thought was refreshing. Fields was harder to pin down: he seems to have an eclectic platform—but as he said, as an independent, he can steal the best ideas.

While Michael Ford is the highest-profile candidate to skip last night’s debate, he wasn’t the only one. Ignacio Mongrell, who is running for the Green Party, did not attend. Neither did Ana Gabriela Ortiz, of the Ontario Party. Neither seems to be campaigning very much, if at all.

The debate was organized by the Weston Village Residents’ Association, the Rockcliffe–Smythe Community Association, and the Mount Dennis Community Association, who did, as always, a super job.

Faisal Hassan calls for Education Minister to withdraw

Faisal Hassan, who is seeking reelection as our MPP, called for education minister Stephen Lecce to withdraw from the election this week. Lecce participated in a fraternity ‘slave auction’ fundraiser in 2006.

In an NDP news release, Hassan and two other Black candidates stated:

The trans-Atlantic slave trade is one of the most horrific chapters of human history. Upwards of 12 million enslaved Africans were ripped from their homes and transported across the Atlantic to the Americas between the 16th and the 19th century. Millions of Black folks in the Americas over multiple generations were born, lived and died trapped in the barbaric system of slavery. The legacy of slavery, colonialism and white supremacy still lives on in our institutions and in the generational trauma people of African-descent continue to face every day.

Mr. Lecce chose to lead and participate in events that mocked and trivialized this painful history. He also chose to conceal them for years as a public official, as a Minister charged with the education, opportunity and wellbeing of Black students and as the person tasked with overseeing the province’s investigations into anti-Black racism in schools. All of these actions are repulsive and constitute clear anti-Black racism.

Mr. Lecce must apologize for the deep pain his actions caused, educate himself, and attempt to make amends to Black communities. But under no circumstances should the people of this province, or even more alarmingly our children, be represented by him at this time. We are calling on him to withdraw as a candidate for office. Failing that, Doug Ford and the PC party must remove him. We are also calling on Doug Ford, as the Leader of the PC party, to clearly and unequivocally condemn Mr. Lecce’s actions.

Slavery is not a joke. Engaging in racist, dehumanizing actions cannot be allowed to be another case of “boys will be boys.” Black Ontarians deserve so much better from their elected officials and their governments.

VIA Rail stop in Weston?

For years we’ve heard that VIA Rail would love to stop their four daily trains in Weston but that they’re being thwarted by Metrolinx who say that there wouldn’t be enough time for VIA trains to transfer passengers on and off without disrupting UP Express and GO Train schedules. The stop would be an incredible convenience for Weston Residents, would slow the train down as it roars through Weston and would allow eastbound VIA passengers destined for Pearson Airport a short cut instead of having to schlep all the way downtown.

If you go to the VIA Rail site however, they’re still posting Weston’s station address as 39 John Street so maybe an awareness of the new location would indicate a more sincere wish for a Weston stop. Either way, it’s beginning to look highly unlikely that a the devolved passenger arm of a corporate Father of Confederation™ and the mighty execs of Metrolinx will get together to make life easier for actual passengers.

Source: https://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/stations/weston Click to enlarge

Maybe this is a problem that an election promise could solve.

Candidates, what say you?

Mike Ford wants YSW MPP seat.

What’s in a name?

Mike Ford has had a wildly successful political career. He began as a Toronto school board trustee in 2014, became a Toronto city councillor two years later after the terminal illness of his uncle and former Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. Now at the ripe old age of 28, Mike Ford has announced he will be running as a candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election on June 22. His other famous uncle, Premier Doug Ford holds Etobicoke North and family friend Kinga Surma has Etobicoke Centre – the next nearest local seat is York South Weston where incumbent Faisal Hassan is enjoying a successful first term.

Many naysayers claim that Ford has succeeded on the coat tails of his two famous uncles. That may well have been true at the start of his career but Mike Ford has shown himself to be a good listener and sincere advocate for his constituents while his council votes tend to be on the conservative and frugal side.

Councillor Mike Ford (L) talks to constituents at the official opening of the Raymore Park off-leash area in July 2017. (file).

No Progressive Conservative candidate has won the York South-Weston seat since the riding was created in 1999. Mark DeMontis came close in 2018 with 33% of the vote compared to 36% for the NDP’s Faisal Hassan. PCs must be confident that Ford has a good shot at the seat as he is a local boy having been raised across the river in Etobicoke; there’s that magic Ford name and no doubt there will have been some local polling to scope out possibilities.

A Mike Ford win depends on a good connection with voters and a reasonably sized Blue Wave hitting the province. That might just happen. According to 338Canada Projection, the PCs currently poll at 37% support to the Liberals’ 28% and the NDP trails at 25% – with the usual caveats that anything can happen between now and June. In recent months, Doug Ford seems to have moved his party to the centre, is now in favour of lefty things like a higher minimum wage – he’s even encouraging electric cars. His removal of the mask mandate from much of daily life has pleased his base and infuriated the provincial Liberal and NDP parties. At the same time, Ford is positioning himself as the best friend of the federal Liberals and the man who can work with them. The main strategy seems to be to attack the NDP while giving the Del Duca Liberals nowhere to go.

My prediction; a tough local fight that will push both Faisal Hassan and Mike Ford to their limits. Will the Ford name nudge the younger candidate over the top or will it be a liability? There is no doubt that the riding will be well served by whoever gets in. Hassan is accessible and has worked hard during his term, setting up a storefront office on Weston Road right in downtown Weston. Mike Ford will have enviable connections.

One thing for certain; this will be a devastating loss for one of these two candidates.

Hassan calls for fewer pot shops

Our MPP, Faisal Hassan, asked Queen’s Park to do something about the “proliferation of cannabis stores” in York South–Weston and the province. Ontarians are, he says, “losing the character of their neighbourhoods, with cannabis shops seemingly everywhere. At the municipal level, business improvement areas and residents have little influence on the location of these cannabis operations”.

Hassan said that the NDP’s plan was better: “well-regulated cannabis distribution, including control through the proven, responsible hands of the LCBO.”

The Attorney General, Doug Downey, took his question but dodged it with a non-answer.

Hassan said in his email circular that “There is a clear consensus throughout York South—Weston that things need to change”. He also said he supported Bill 235, which would give city halls the ability to veto retail applications.


My toke take: I don’t like pot, and I have no particular love for cannabis shops. I think I’ve been in one once—and you know what? It was really nice.

I’m also not really sure what the harm is. It seems to me that nearly all pot shops are responsible retailers, and are, in fact, extremely quiet. I’d certainly rather have a pot shop next to me than a muffler—or even coffee—shop.

Pot shops are making jobs, supporting a nascent national industry, and providing a service people pay for. They don’t work on large margins (they must buy from their largest competitor), and these are very early days yet. I say we let the market decide. If they’re truly not wanted, they’ll go out of business. Otherwise, let them bloom.

Hassan co-sponsors clean train bill

Faisal Hassan co-sponsored a bill this week that calls for the electrification of the UPX line.

The “Clean Trains Now Act” would “establish a committee to review the UP Express” with the goals of:

  • Electrifying the trains
  • Increasing capacity
  • Integrating fares with the TTC

Electrification has long been promised. In 2013, Glen Murray, then the Ontario Liberal Minister of Transportation, said that the train would be electrified by 2017.