Results are in

The results of WestonWeb’s completely unscientific polling are in, and Faisal Hassan, the NDP candidate, has a commanding lead.

Over the past week, 71 people responded–not including the rogues who tried to stuff the ballots in our first attempt that his experiment.Straw pollThe NDP got 43% of the vote, and the Liberals received 31%. Mark DeMontis, with the PCs, received 19%, and the Greens polled surprisingly well with 8%. (Your correspondent neglected to include the Libertarian candidate, which was an oversight.)

Our poll agrees with the broader trends in Ontario; the NDP is now in the lead according to most polls. The PCs have never done well in York South–Weston, but they are performing better now than in the past, especially since WestonWeb’s readership likely skews left.

If this poll were accurate, it would be a remarkable upset for Laura Albanese, who is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and who has held the seat for more than 10 years.

 

Padovani tackles TD Canada Trust closing.

TD Canada Trust in Weston.

Chiara Padovani wants to be York South-Weston’s next councillor for Ward 11, replacing long-time incumbent Frances Nunziata. She has become quite active in the ward and among other things is closely monitoring the state of retail in YSW.

She recently promised that she would contact the Financial Consumer Agency regarding the recently announced closure of Weston’s TD Canada Trust branch. The closure was announced without any community consultation and Ms Padovani is seeking such a consultation by writing to the FCAC’s Commissioner, Lucie Tedesco.

Here is the letter that Ms Padovani sent:

Re: File with reference number 363484

Dear Commissioner Tedesco,

I am writing to request a meeting regarding the closure of the TD Canada Trust Bank located at 1979 Weston Road in Toronto Ontario (Branch Number 335).

This marks the fourth TD Branch closure in York South-Weston, a community that has become the target of predatory lending and payday loans. The bank has failed to fulfill its obligation to consult with the community, and many customers – myself included – did not even receive notice of the bank’s closure.

As a resident and local social worker in the community, I cannot stress the importance of providing fair access to financial institutions. Had TD Canada Trust consulted with the community, they would have become aware of the social and economic hardship that this closure will cause to the residents of Weston including but not limited to:

Proximity – The branch is within walking distance of over 10,000 residents. Many of these residents do not own cars and spending nearly $7 on the TTC fare required to get to the new location will be a significant barrier for low-income customers. In Forest Hill, a far less densely populated neighbourhood, there are seven TD Banks within close proximity of each other.

Accessibility – The branch is located in a neighbourhood where many residents are seniors and people with disabilities. These residents rely on this branch because they can access banking services without having to travel far.

Lack of financial alternatives – CIBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust branches have already closed down and left the neighbourhood. Predatory lenders are quickly filling the gap for financial services in York South-Weston. As you know, these institutions trap hard-working families in a cycle of debt and economic violence that will threaten the quality of life for too many in this community.

These are just some of the reasons I ask that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada convene a public meeting between the community and TD Canada Trust to discuss and resolve the challenges posed by the bank’s imminent closure.

Sincerely,

Chiara Padovani

I contacted the MP for York South-Weston Ahmed Hussen a couple of weeks ago regarding the closure and a staff member tried to fob me off to the Ottawa office bizarrely claiming that it was not a local matter. After persisting, the staffer said he would inform the minister and call back but never did. Apparently that’s not an unusual experience.

If you would like to add your voice to the initiative, contact the FCAC at 1-866-461-3222 and mention file number 363484.

Mati’s Coffee official opening

Konjet Tadewsa and her son receive a City of Toronto congratulatory diploma from Business Improvement Association Chair Masum Hossain on Saturday May, 26. Husband, Derrge and other family members were on hand to lend support.

Mati’s Coffee is the latest addition to Weston’s ‘Main Street’ and is situated at 1947 Weston Road; just north of John Street on the west east side. Originally from Ethiopia (the home of all coffee), owners Konjet and Derrge Tadewsa are a true Canadian success story. Konjet worked at Tim Hortons for many years learning the ins and outs of customer service. She and husband Derrge (who did the renovations) are now taking the plunge with this new Weston business.

Aside from coffee and other beverages, Mati’s serves a wide selection of food, from home baked muffins to donuts, delicious cake slices and meat patties.

The official opening was held on Saturday, showcasing the beautiful renovation that has transformed the site of the old Weston Bun Bakery. In attendance were some familiar faces from Weston including Masum Hossain, Marion O’Sullivan and Debbie Gibson from the BIA and Suri Weinberg-Linsky from Squibb’s bookstore across the road.

Let’s give a warm Weston Welcome to Mati‘s Coffee and make a point of supporting this new business. Did I mention they have free wifi?

YSW Provincial Election Debate 2018

Moderator Sean Hertel instructs candidates on the debate format.

Last night’s debate at the York Civic Centre was an exercise in civility as well as democracy. There’s a lot at stake in this election and all but one of the main party candidates showed up to answer questions from ordinary folks. Not all people present were regular voters. Many were party movers and shakers, aficionados and rabid hacks from all sides (you know who you are).

The ‘elephant’ not in the room was PC candidate Mark DeMontis. Whatever the reason, as Adam wrote yesterday, his absence was a loss to the debate. Mr. DeMontis allegedly spent the evening canvassing, tweeting profound thoughts while doing so. Here’s a sample:

Organizers could have left an empty seat and name tag out for the missing candidate but didn’t, reflecting the professionalism and civility mentioned earlier. While candidates who miss debates are generally Conservative, Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen skipped out on the main YSW debate back in September 2015 and it didn’t seem to hurt him in spite of predictions to the contrary.

A consortium of groups came together to organize the debate including  For Youth Initiative members GreenHills, Rockliffe Smythe and Mount Dennis community groups and the Weston Village and Stockyards residents’ associations.

Political debates can get nasty and raucous. This one was a positive love-fest thanks to superb organization with a team of volunteers performing a variety of tasks including ushering and gathering written audience questions. Questions were presented, usually by their authors. Candidates were able to deliver their answers without interruption. Moderator Sean Hertel outlined his expectations then kept things in line with effortless skill and injections of humour. Timekeeper Cherri Hurst kept candidates on the straight and narrow.

One thing pointed out during the debate was that all but one of the candidates present was an immigrant to Canada and how that reflected well on our country. Another thing that came across was the decency and sincerity of the candidates.

Faisal Hassan is the NDP hopeful in YSW and has been active in the party for a long  time. He began his life in Canada in Winnipeg and more recently worked for former YSW MP, Mike Sullivan and for the NDP in Etobicoke North during the last federal general election. He has lived in Weston for 20 years and believes in the importance of helping members of the community. Over the last fifteen years, he thinks that life has become harder for people in YSW, referring to inadequate transit links, hallway medicine and expensive childcare. He believes that we need to make life more affordable for everyone. More on Mr Hassan here.

Libertarian Party of Ontario candidate Bonnie Hu is a grocery store worker who has run for the party here and in a Vancouver by-election in 2016. Her party is big on self-sufficiency, lower taxes and minimal government involvement and Bonnie’s answers were mainly consistent with that philosophy – although she does feel we should spend money on ESL teachers. She would like more services for immigrants, decriminalization of all drugs and is opposed to the $14 minimum wage and says it was too large a hike.

Grad Murray is the Green Party of Ontario’s nominee. Articulate and knowledgeable, Mr. Murray has a degree in political science and it shows. He wants to put the community first and believes everyone has a right to live in dignity and that would include comprehensive health care and transportation systems. Mr. Murray believes in the need for ‘fearless public transportation’  and says that investing in people is a helpful hand up, not a humiliating hand-out.

Laura Albanese for the Liberal Party of Ontario stressed the importance for voters to be informed. She reminded the audience that she has represented YSW for the last 10 years and believes that the most important job of a legislator is to bring real improvements to a community. As evidence, she pointed to investments in the West Park Health Care Centre, the UP Express and Eglinton Crosstown Line, training and support for young people, full day kindergaten in schools, modernizing classrooms. She would like to continue to do more like provide free childcare and tuition programs.

To watch the full debate go here.

Debate Winners in each category:

Passion – Faisal Hassan

Sincerity: Bonnie Hu

Effective Messaging: Grad Murray

Gentility: Laura Albanese

York South-Weston is indeed fortunate to have such great community involvement and the opportunity to view the slate of candidates in a calm and rational atmosphere. Kudos to all involved.

Upcoming events

UrbanArts has a lot going on this week. Tomorrow, they’re hosting a community clean-up and barbecue at their Bartonville location. On the weekend, they’re having a doors-open open house. And on Monday morning, they’re starting a yoga class in Elm Park. See you there!

Some thoughts on skipping debates

Mark DeMontis did not attend tonight’s all-candidates debate; he spent it campaigning door-to-door instead.

It makes me very sad—and angry—that he wouldn’t attend, but it fits into into a broader pattern: PC candidates across the province are avoiding their electors. They’ve skipped debates in 25 ridings as of last weekend (and now 26).

Doug Ford denies muzzling candidates, saying “I’ve never told them not to go to a debate,” but a party spokesperson was more equivocal, and political scientists say that this is part of a plan to keep attention on the party leaders—and away from local politicians.

It’s the making of a monarchy: one person—Duke Doug—is to know all and fix all. His ‘ideas’ (they’re slogans) will not be tested in the public square. Objections won’t be heard, and experts (like other candidates) won’t be tolerated.  Doug Ford is so sure that he knows what you want that he won’t let you tell him. It’s omakase politics.

Mark DeMontis also denied us the chance to see Hassan and Albanese’s ideas lit up with a bright blue light. He missed his first chance for public service: showing us what is wrong with the Liberal, NDP, and Green platforms. We’re doubly worse off because he would have been an excellent debater (he has been a public speaker and broadcaster).

Mark DeMontis should have stood up for his party and presented his ideas to be debated. He also should have stood up to his party and attended in defiance, if he was told not to go.