Category Archives: toronto

Media release: Seasoned candidate enters race for councillor of Ward 27

Tindal receives early support from prominent members of major parties


TORONTO – Chris Tindal, a former candidate for federal parliament, today registered to run for city councillor in Toronto’s Ward 27.

Tindal highlighted city finances, transit, and smart development as three areas in need of special focus. In a letter posted to, Tindal said he would “focus on expanding the tax base, not the tax burden,” called on the transit debate “to move from making excuses to finding solutions,” and said he would be “mindful not only of our ward’s current needs, but also the kind of city we’ll be proud to have created further down the road.”

A former Green Party of Canada candidate who has have lived in Ward 27 for more than a decade, Tindal is endorsed by respected individuals from across the political spectrum, including Chrétien-appointed Senator Lois Wilson, former local Progressive Conservative MP David MadDonald, and past Toronto NDP candidate Liam McHugh-Russell, who called Tindal “open-minded, passionate, articulate and thoughtful” and said he “represents the future we need for our city.”

MacDonald added, “Chris Tindal represents the best of what our neighbourhood is all about. He is committed to a community which is diverse, healthy and prepared to meet the challenges of living in an urban environment. We will all benefit from having him represent us on the new City Council.”

Tindal also has the support of high-profile members of Ward 27’s various communities, including Laurie Arron, who worked with Egale Canada to help legalize equal marriage.

“I intend, especially in these early months of the campaign, to do more listening than talking,” Tindal said. “We, as a campaign, will fully engage with residents to listen to their priorities and concerns.”

“As Torontonians we interact with municipal government services more than those of any other government,” he said. “And yet, we tend to pay very little attention to municipal politics, and I doubt there are even many city councillors who would argue we have the kind of governance we can be proud of, the kind of vision we should aspire to, the kind of representation we deserve.”

In a March 2008 by-election in Toronto Centre, the federal riding that includes Toronto’s Ward 27, Tindal achieved what media reports referred to as a “virtual tie” for second. Journalist Susan Delacourt wrote that Tindal’s “significant” result helped to “[seal his party’s] standing as a political force to watch” and moved it closer to becoming a “major player.”

Tindal’s campaign began this morning with a series of messages posted to his website,, and an invitation to residents to become active participants in defining the next city council.

Chris Tindal has served as a Vice President of the Ontario Recreational Canoeing association and as a board member for a boys and girls residential summer camp north of Toronto. Having produced some of Canada’s largest web properties including (for Astral Television Networks) and (Corus Entertainment), Tindal now does strategy and business development for a national newspaper chain’s interactive properties.

For more information

Matthew Ross


Announcing my candidacy for Toronto City Council, Ward 27


As of this morning I am a candidate for city councillor in Toronto’s Ward 27. After months of consultation and contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that this municipal election represents an exciting and unique opportunity for us as residents to, in one small but significant way, seize control of our own democracy and build the kind of community we want.

In one sense, city governance is about a set of very practical things like roads, garbage collection, sewers, and so on. It’s important that these areas are addressed properly and with sound judgment. In addition, however, city governance defines the kind of world we live in. We interact with municipal government services more than those of any other government, and in many ways those services have the largest immediate impact on our quality of life. When we talk about city building and when we elect a city council, we’re deciding what kind of neighbourhood we live in, what our commute to work is like, what kinds of activities we can easily enjoy on the evenings and weekends, what kind of education our children receive, and what it means to exist as a diverse community of equals.

And yet, we tend to pay very little attention to municipal politics, and I doubt there are even many city councillors who would argue we have the kind of governance we can be proud of, the kind of vision we should aspire to, the kind of representation we deserve.

I’m running to be Ward 27’s next councillor because I’ve lived here for a decade, I attended and graduated from university here, and I think we deserve better.

Recognizing that there will be a lot of time to discuss specific policy positions throughout the campaign, in these early days there are three areas I would like to lift up.

First, anyone elected to city council will need to address the very serious and imminent financial crisis. The city must get its house in order and Torontonians expect to see better value for their tax dollars. That will mean finding new creative sources of revenue as well as targeted cost containment. The unrelenting wave of perpetual property tax increases we’ve become used to is not only bad policy, it’s unimaginative. In short, through smart development and planning I will focus on expanding the tax base, not the tax burden.

Second, we expect more from our transit system. Too many of us know the frustration of waiting for a bus that never comes, or watching a full streetcar pass us by as we stand with our Metropass or transfer in hand. While it is true that the TTC is underfunded by provincial and federal levels of government, we need to move from making excuses to finding solutions. We don’t do that by blaming others or creating divisions, we do it by articulating the kind of system we want and a plan to get there together.

Finally, much of what a city councillor does is concerned with building the kind of city we want, whether that means working with developers and residents on a new residential or commercial building or negotiating how our streets are equitably shared among pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers. I will approach these conversations in a way that is open and inclusive, seeking to build common ground. And I will be mindful not only of our ward’s current needs, but also the kind of city we’ll be proud to have created further down the road.

In addition to these larger areas, I’ll enter into dialogue with residents and stakeholders from each of our neighbourhoods about what specific issues we should work on together over the next four years. For example, a conversation about Church Street’s accidental evolution is long overdue, and as a community we need to address what kind of Church Street we want. (Update: conversation about this in the comments.)

Let’s be clear: we can win this campaign, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already offered your support. It’s a long time until election day on October 25th, and there’s much to be done. Let’s get to work.

Glen Murray’s move

Glen Murray and me at the November 25th Ben Wicks event, with Ralph Benmergui complaining about something in the background. Photo: Shaun Merritt
Glen Murray and me at the November 25th Ben Wicks event, with Ralph Benmergui looking annoyed in the background. Photo: Shaun Merritt

As you have likely heard, Glen Murray, who had been planning a run for mayor of Toronto, has announced that he will seek the provincial Liberal nomination in Toronto Centre to run in the inevitable by-election to replace George Smitherman, who is running for mayor. Glen’s new goal has earned him the support of Smitherman, as well as Liberal activist Todd Ross, who dropped out of the nomination race not only to symbolically support Glen, but also to staff him yesterday as he moved between media interviews. Anything can happen in politics, but taking these factors into account I don’t see any way that he won’t become the Liberal candidate.

A lot of people have asked me what I think of all this because just last week I hosted an event for Glen to help with his budding mayoral bid. In the event invitation I wrote that “I think it really matters that we elect the right mayor, and I’m excited about what Glen’s candidacy could bring.” Now, the questions I’m getting from a surprising number of sources generally fall into one of two categories: how I feel about this development, and do I have any inside information about it? So, here’s my reaction, with a warning: this post is even more self-indulgent than most.

The second question is easier to answer: no, I do not. I can tell you that he was 100% serious about running for mayor. He told the full group at Ben Wicks that he was very likely going to run, but in smaller groups told us that he was near certain. He has been talking to lots of people for at least a few months to lay the groundwork. More recently, however, he was obviously talking to provincial Liberals about this other possibility as well, and that’s the decision he ended up making.

How I know Glen Murray

Glen and I have known of each other for a few years, but have only become friends recently. I knew that he had voted for me (and displayed my sign in his window) in the March 2008 by-election, but we didn’t meet in person until this past May when we were on a panel together as part of the Architecture for Humanity lecture series at the Design Exchange here in Toronto. We got there an hour early and, along with Councillor Joe Mihevc, spent the extra time talking politics in the green room over sandwiches. After the panel Glen and I spoke briefly about each of our future political plans and agreed to meet for lunch or coffee to chat further.

We didn’t actually get around to meeting until October, when we sat in Lettieri at Church and Wellesley and talked for over an hour about municipal politics. It was then that I offered to help Glen with his pre-campaign (for lack of a better term) by hosting an event for him and inviting my contacts. At the event, he told people that he had voted for me (as he had also publicly announced during the panel in May) and that I had won his vote more quickly than any other politician.

He gave me a call yesterday shortly after making his official announcement. We had a brief conversation and agreed to talk more in the near future. He said he had intended to give me a head’s up before his decision became public but hadn’t been able to get in touch with me.

Glen’s decision

Here’s the interesting thing. I had almost no doubt about Glen’s ability to be a great mayor. In terms of ideas and policy he was overflowing with great stuff. From that perspective, Glen Murray may now have a claim to the “greatest mayor Toronto never had” title. However, I saw no evidence (and that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, just that I didn’t see it) that he was assembling the organizational and fundraising capacity that he would have needed to win the mayoral race. In some ways, it seemed to me he was a platform without a campaign.

Enter George Smitherman, who at this early stage has been accused of being a campaign without a platform. In this way, the two men compliment each other: they each have what the other needs. Politically, therefore, I think this was a good move. The campaign for mayor was becoming pretty crowded and may have been a long-shot for Glen. On the other hand, his election to Queen’s Park now seems very likely.

Some people have commented that they don’t like the feeling that this is a “backroom deal.” I can empathize somewhat, but I don’t think there’s a lot to get worked up over (well, at least no more than usual). On Smitherman’s side, the mayoral race has barely begun. We will have many strong candidates to choose from and nothing resembling a fix is in. As for the Liberal nomination, sorry, but to a certain extent those things have always been determined in backrooms. That’s the way most parties work. (In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m a Green. Heck, we take it so far in the other direction that we let people challenge our own leader’s nomination!) Then, in the by-election, voters will still have a choice between a large number of candidates and they can pass judgment on if Liberals deserve to hold on to the seat, or if it would be better to send a different message.

What imma do

I’ve let Glen know that I can’t follow him down this road in the same way I would have if he ran for mayor. I don’t think he was surprised, and told me he accepts and respects that decision. Unlike at the municipal level, provincial politics is definitively partisan, and I’m committed to helping elect Greens to Queen’s Park in 2011. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to find common ground where we can cooperate and work together though, and don’t expect to hear me saying bad things about the guy either. If there’s one thing I’m sure I feel good about it’s that Glen Murray will continue to offer himself to public service. We need more politicians like him. (Don’t go putting that on a flyer though, ok buddy?)

As for the mayoral race, colour me undecided. As I’ve said, it’s early and I think there are some very strong candidates. Let’s see what each of them has to offer.

Sick bank

garbage-cityOne of the most publicized sticking points in the ongoing Toronto civic strike is the union leadership’s belief that their members have a “right” to bank unused sick days and cash them in when they retire. This has raised a notable amount of public ire (polls out today suggest 76% disapproval ratings for striking CUPE locals 416 and 79) for obvious reasons that I probably don’t need to detail.

There’s another angle to this, however, that I think is less discussed. The main purpose of providing paid sick days is to ensure that employees are not financially penalized for getting sick. It wouldn’t be fair for an employer to say “you were sick for 7 days this year, therefore we’re docking 7-days-worth of your pay.” Heck, if an employer did that, organized labour would rightly fight against it, wouldn’t they? They might even go on strike!

Except that in Toronto, CUPE has done the exact opposite. They’ve gone on strike to ensure, in part, that if someone is sick for 7 days, they’ll get paid for 7-days less work than someone who doesn’t get sick. They’ve officially taken the position that people who don’t get sick deserve to be financially rewarded for their health, at the expense of people who need—through no fault of their own—to use their sick days.

For someone who believes in economic Darwinism, in free-market-everyone-for-themselves capitalism, maybe this makes sense. But for CUPE? It suggests that they’ve become ideologically confused…that they’ve forgotten their raison d’être.

The current union leadership is doing a disservice not only to their members, but to the reputation of collective bargaining itself. The path we’re on does not end well for organized labour; a course correction would be wise.

(And no, I’m not a fan of how the city’s handling the situation—or, rather, not handling it—either. And according to that same poll, neither is the rest of the city. We need a leader, David, not a scolding parent.)

Illustration by Michael de Adder for Metro Canada