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Toronto Mayoral Candidate, Jennifer Keesmaat Ready to Fight Ford on Council Cuts



Toronto’s Mayoral candidate has revealed that it was Premier’s Doug Ford’s autarchic resolution to cut council seats in Toronto, and what she described as Mayor John Tory’s tepid reaction to it that sparked her interest in running for the office of mayor.

“It’s a pretty dramatic thing to do in a supposedly modern sophisticated democracy to change the rules in the middle of the race,” Keesmaat says. “When I saw the tepid response of Mayor Tory, it became clear to me that we didn’t have a leader who was going to stand up for the city and that we needed strong leadership.”

She spoke to the Canadian Press this week at her central Toronto home, where she called Mayor Tory weak. She said she had been disappointed when Tory failed to put up a strong fight against Mayor Ford’s unilateral decision. 48-year old Keesmaat claims she would have pushed back harder than Ford did.

“You sit down at the table and say, ‘Whoa! Hold on a minute! This is not going to work for Torontonians’,” Keesmaat said. “That’s what we do in a democracy. We don’t go, ‘Oh, well, the powers that be are going to do whatever they’re going to do.’ The minute we do that, we’ve got a dictatorship.”

Myer Siemiatycki, a professor of politics at Ryerson University, speaking to Global News, said the implications of Ford’s action goes beyond just Toronto because it could rewrite our understanding of provincial-municipal relations.

“I’m not sure there has ever been an election where the most fundamental ground rules of how the election will be contested have been turned upside down, in this instance, by a provincial government intervention,” Siemiatycki said. “The outcome of this could be a setting of limitations on the powers that not only Ontario but any province has over its municipalities.”

He further said that the Toronto’s mayoralty campaign, will turn on who can best portray themselves as the principled and effective defender of the interests of the city.

Keesmat who is frequently criticized for being too outspoken claims she does not view herself as a politician,“When people started referring to me as a politician, I recoiled because it never occurred to me,” Keesmaat said. “I’m not a politician. I don’t want to approach this in a typical way.”

She rather views herself as a proactive voice, ready to fight for the city’s needs.

“We need a strong voice, we need a vision for the city,” Keesmaat said. “It’s not just about keeping ourselves off late-night comedy shows internationally, which really is where we were four years ago. It’s about building transit, it’s about building housing, it’s about addressing public safety with a proactive plan that gets at the root causes of the gun violence and the gun crime we see in our city. We need to get things done.” Reports globalnews.

It can be recalled that Mayor Doug Ford had earlier made a decision to cut Toronto council seats by less than half, an issue on which the Ford led Toronto council voted to take legal action.