Snapshots of candidates running for city council in 2014.
Candidate: Amarjeet Kaur Chhabra (age 32)
Ward: 44 (Scarborough East), currently represented by Ron Moeser, who has not indicated whether he intends to run again. Health complications have kept Moeser from council for much of the past term.
Background: In 1999, Chhabra moved from India to Toronto, where she lived in the Jane and Finch area. She majored in biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, but didn’t graduate. Chhabra was an executive member of City Hall’s Toronto Youth Cabinet, and in 2006, entered the Torontopia-inspired City Idol competition: she was selected as the Scarborough candidate and ran in Ward 43 (Scarborough East). For the past six years, Chhabra has been a labour organizer for hospitality and service workers—although in March, she left her job to focus on her council campaign. Chhabra also ran for the NDP nomination in the 2013 Scarborough-Guildwood by-election, but lost to Adam Giambrone after a contentious and controversial race.
Why are you running for council? “My mother worked in factories. She couldn’t get a job—she was a public school teacher back in India. My father is an entrepreneur, working door-to-door sales before opening a small business. But really, my mother’s struggles are what makes me want to fight for a more equal and fair society … I believe Ward 44 should have high expectations for their leadership, and I’d be honoured to bring my passion and commitment to City Hall if given the chance.”
On what she sees as a ward priority: “Toronto has suffered from a lack of action on the transit file for decades now. I believe that we need to build the existing LRTs to overcome the paralysis in transit. In my mind, it’s not an either/or solution where one line or technology—subways or LRTs—can solve all of Scarborough’s problems. The current Scarborough subway or LRT proposals do very little to help Ward 44, but what does is the Sheppard LRT. I want to see construction start on it as soon as possible, with an option to extend the line to UTSC, which was discussed in 2010, and I would support, given the new Pan Am Games facilities and the long-term benefits for the students.”
When asked, Chhabra indicated she would not support the three-stop Scarborough subway extension, because it would serve fewer people and at a greater cost: “I can safely say I would vote against it.”
Chhabra also highlighted the need to address the funding crisis at TCHC, improve Scarborough waterfront, focus on public spaces, and upgrade the technology at the Highland Creek Treatment Plant.
On TCHC: “TCHC is a disaster … It’s an issue that needs to be tackled, and we as a city need to get a handle on that … It all comes down to leadership, and engaging other levels of government. We can’t as a city solve this problem on our own.”