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.

Nunziata calls for Metrolinx to bury the Eglinton Crosstown extension

Frances Nunziata asked City Council this week to “request Metrolinx undertake an assessment of running the elevated segment of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension underground and to identify any options that may exist to accommodate this change.”

Her motion says

The elevated segment of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will result in significant impacts to the local environment including parklands and trees along Eglinton Avenue West. The loss of parklands, including the treasured Eglinton Flats and forests, outlined by Metrolinx at recent community consultation sessions, is a significant concern to residents and visitors from across the City.

Metrolinx is planning to build an elevated track through the Eglinton Flats parkland to extend the LRT out to Renforth. Only the section in the Eglinton Flats will be elevated. Metrolinx has said in the past that burying the line through the valley would be difficult and expensive.

Nunziata’s motion passed.

Park drinking punted

Frances Nunziata and 15 other councillors petitioned to punt a proposed pilot project on park potation this week.

Downtown councillor Josh Matlow had asked City Council to allow summertime drinking in city parks that have a bathroom. Drinking would only be allowed between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m..

Matlow’s motion said that Toronto “has uneven enforcement with inequitable results” when it comes to public drinking. He also argued that many people can’t afford to drink in a bar and lack outdoor space; as a result, their ability to socialize is limited, and these “residents should not be left with potentially unsafe options such as gathering indoors or, like many, choosing to drink illegally in parks.”

A majority of councillors, including Nunziata, voted to ask city staff to study the issue before legalizing drinking. Michael Ford, who is campaigning to be our MPP, was not present for the vote.

Staff will report back in 2023.

Campaigning begins

Nadia Guerrera, the Liberal candidate in the provincial election, and Ahmed Hussen, our MP, were knocking on doors in Weston this weekend. Despite my undercaffeination (late night), I was able to gather my thoughts enough to ask her for some details.

In short, she promised more responsible and less reactive policies than the Conservatives, and more accomplishment than the NDP.

In particular, she said that the Liberals would offer more investment in transit, and closer supervision of Metrolinx’s plans for the Eglinton Flats.

Guerrera also said that she supported the green belt around the GTA, and argued the Ford government’s plans could lead to more flooding in our riding. The incumbent, Faisal Hassan, has not brought flooding relief (or mitigation of the odours at the stockyards) in her view.

I think this will be an excellent and contested election: Michael Ford has name recognition and growing conservative support in the riding, and Faisal Hassan has a very good record representing the community.

Nadia Guerrera, though, debated me when I was puffy-eyed and cantankerous—moreover, she was generous with her time and willing to contest and defend. I think she’ll be an real contender in a close race.

Metrolinx to make plans clear on guided walk May 9

The Mount Dennis Community Association and Metrolinx will be meeting for a walk through Eglinton Flats, to discuss Metrolinx’s controversial proposal to build an elevated train through the parks.

The meeting will be Monday, May 9 at 6 p.m. and will start where Pearen Park reaches Eglinton Avenue:

Here, I believe.

The MDCA says they believe the LRT will run “entirely WITHIN Fergie Brown Park from the point we wil meet until it is almost at Jane Street.”(Emphasis theirs.) They are also concerned Metrolinx’s images make the tracks seem lower than they will be.

Putting the train through the park would be disruptive to people, but it would also destroy woodlands, the MDCA says. “We expect that most of the woodland area west of Jane… will be clear-cut to accommodate the LRT, likely with serious damage to the wetlands that separate the woods from the playing fields”.