The leaders of Ontario’s three major political parties squared off in the first live debate ahead of the June provincial election in #CityVote: The Debate on Monday.
Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were asked questions that focus entirely on issues relevant to those who live and work in Toronto, by residents who have been directly affected by these key issues.
Key issue: Police de-escalation
Why is this important to Joanne?
Joanne McIsaac has been working tirelessly to understand what happened when her 47-year-old brother was shot and killed by a Durham police officer in Ajax in 2013.
Her family has ordered several independent investigations into the incident and has been critical of an SIU investigation that cleared the officer from any wrongdoing in her brother’s death.
They maintain Michael MacIsaac suffered an epileptic seizure that caused him to run down the cold streets in Ajax, carrying a metal table leg and prompted the interaction he had with police that ended with lethal force.
Joanne has since worked with the Innocence Project at Osgoode to advocate for better de-escalation training for police officers.
Joanne’s Question: The province recently passed a bill intended to address longstanding policing issues. That bill included nothing about de-escalation training for police officers that would’ve prevented what happened to my brother from happening again. What de-escalation training would you mandate province-wide to ensure more outcomes like the one Toronto Constable Ken Lam had during the tragic van attack on Yonge Street?
Key issue: Police carding
Why is this important to Chistien?
Christien Levien is the creator of LegalSwipe, an app working to fight back against carding. It’s a step-by-step guide of what to say when stopped by a police office.
Levien says he was inspired to create the app back in 2015 after graduating from law school and doing a lot of legal rights workshops.
He realized he needed to provide something tangible for workshop participants or even those who weren’t able to make it out.
The app provides questions you should ask the police officer when approached based on the initial interaction along with a list of your legal rights related to the specific situation.
Christien currently works as a criminal defence lawyer at his own firm, Levien Law, and is involved with youth development and policing reform.
Christien’s question: Carding is now illegal, but it’s still happening. If elected as premier, what specific steps would you take to ensure that police officers found guilty of carding and their respective forces are being held accountable?
Key issue: Drug safety
Why is this issue important to Patrick?
Patrick Pennam is the co-owner of The Football Factory at Bathurst and Richmond, across the street from the safe injection site at the Queen West Community Health Centre.
When the injection site was first announced, business owners grew concerned about the impact on the surrounding area.
Patrick said he noticed a change in the people frequenting the area when the sun goes down.
Area business owners agreed, saying they have seen a spike in the number of drug dealers and users since the site opened.
He says when you are focusing some many at-risk people on a neighborhood, you are destined to have issues.
Some work has been done by the Queen West Community Health Centre to address some of the neighbourhood’s safety concerns, including putting in a 360-degree camera.
Patrick’s question: The province is funding safe injection sites and will soon be running legal marijuana stores in our neighbourhoods. What will you do to keep those neighbourhoods safe?
Key issue: Public transit
Why is this issue important to Leah?
Leah Benincasa had a long commute in the morning to her job in Toronto that included parking at Wilson station and a subway ride to downtown.
When the subway extension opened up, she expected her hour-long commute would be reduced to about 45 minutes from the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station.
But she says frequent delays along the Line 1 extension actually added 15-20 minutes to her original commute time.
Leah says if the TTC is promoting the extension as something that will save people time and travel, it should actually work.
Leah’s question: What incentive will you give to me, and others, to take public transit?
Key issue: Autism and education
Why is this important to Daniela?
Daniela Tripolino’s nine-year-old son Matteo was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.
Daniela says Matteo’s diagnosis hit them hard, but they were lucky to have the financial means and support to put him in therapy. She says a lot of families who have children with autism are not as fortunate.
The provincial government released a controversial set of guidelines for autism treatment in 2016. One doctor used by the Ontario government on the expert panel said the guidelines did not reflect what they had recommended.
Matteo, who is non-verbal, currently attends private school because Daniela says there is a lack of support for children with autism in the TDSB.
Daniela’s question: We were forced to put our son, Matteo, into private school because of the lack of support for him in the TDSB classrooms. That lack of support causes disruptions in class time for students and teachers and puts the needs of children with autism on the backburner. What will you do to help kids like mine succeed in our schools?
Key issue: Housing
Why is this issue important to Karan?
Karan Kundra was looking forward to moving into his one bedroom apartment in Vaughan, near the new TTC station, that he bought back in 2016.
But just a few weeks ago, he was informed the massive three-tower condo project he bought into, “Cosmos”, had been nixed because the developers, Liberty Development, say they failed to secure enough funding.
Karan bought the condo for $330,000. The same unit, he says, could now be worth $400,000.
Despite assurances he would receive his $60,000 deposit back, he fears he may not be able to afford the same condo at the current prices in the Toronto market.
Karan’s question: Currently, there is a discrepancy between the risk and rights of buyers and developers. Buyers are locked into contracts that developers are allowed to break. What actionable steps will you be taking to level the playing field between buyers and developers?