Lekan Olawoye (left) poses with a resident. Photo from the Vote Lekan Twitter page.
Lekan Olawoye’s Toronto story began as many do—in another country. Olawoye’s Nigerian parents moved to Toronto in the ’70s and started a family while his father studied architecture. The family then moved back to Nigeria, where Olawoye was born. When Olawoye was only a year old, his father passed away, leaving behind his wife and three young children. His mother worked for seven years to save up enough money to return to Toronto.
“My mother taught me that if you work hard, and you pray hard, you can achieve anything. But I feel like this Toronto the Great, the Toronto that my father believed in and my mother worked so hard to get us back into, we’re losing. And we need to gain it back.” When we met Olawoye last week in Ward 12, York-South Weston, the executive director of the community organization For Youth Initiative said he’s running because he expects better than what he’s seen from longtime incumbent councillor Frank Di Giorgio.
Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow released more details of her platform today, calling for changes to the Land Transfer Tax and stating in a press release that “more progressive city taxes [would] let us care for more children, and invest in immediate transit priorities.”
She’s proposing changes to the City’s Land Transfer Tax—as it stands, the LTT’s top tax bracket is $400,000 and up. But with the average price of a home now at $585,000 and climbing, she believes an additional bracket—$2 million and up—should be added. If the LTT were to be raised 1 per cent on homes that sell for upwards of $2 million, the tax would produce about $20 million a year.
Additional tax revenue could then, Chow suggests, be directed to some of Toronto’s more immediate needs, such as child nutrition programs and transit.
Ward: 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence), an open seat currently occupied by Karen Stintz.
Background: Youssefi was a criminal lawyer before having kids, and now maintains her own law practice. For the past three years, she’s been a teacher at Seneca College, where she has taught courses on criminal law, ethics, advocacy, and other subjects. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in 1994 and her law degree from McGill in 1998. She has two children under the age of 10.
Why are you running for council? “Contributing to the community and trying to improve things has always been in me. It’s part of why I’ve done volunteer work ever since I came to Canada 30 years ago or so. I feel very passionate about working with people and for people, and particularly helping to improve conditions when it comes to development, for people who are marginalized.
Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) remains competitive in his riding despite a fundraising scandal and his own erratic-at-best behaviour over the years, but Keegan Henry-Mathieu isn’t very interested in discussing Mammo’s foibles. More important to him is Mammo’s record. “[Ward 7 residents] can point to a stop sign, but anybody in that position—the bare minimum is coming up with those small wins for residents. Anybody who’s been elected can do that—and I’m hearing from lots of people that Giorgio Mammoliti isn’t getting back to them any more. I think residents should be looking for more than that. You can call 311 and get a stop sign. It’s not brain surgery just because Mammoliti wants to make it seem that way.”
Henry-Mathieu is new to politics, and yet he isn’t: he’s new in that this is his first council race, but he’s been regularly involved with City Hall since he became a member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet in his teens. “I had the opportunity to work with City staff, city council members, members of the community, especially here … I decided to run because I know that, as an activist, you can only get so much done.”
Within the past four months two Toronto police officers have hanged themselves, and the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board wants to know why. Alok Mukherjee last week asked Chief Bill Blair to produce a report on the suicides of Const. Clinton Cibulis and Sgt. Richard Rogers—including a comprehensive examination of police suicides over the past five years—by today.
The suicides, Mukherjee told the Toronto Starin an interview, “disturbed me and raised questions about any further measures that we should or could take to do our best to prevent such tragedies. However, in order to be able to answer these questions, it was necessary to first learn the facts.”