It is fair to say that Torontoist is not, historically, a huge fan of Karen Stintz—the outgoing councillor for Ward 16, former mayoral candidate, and probable future board member at many major corporations/lobbyist/other high-tone well-paying job you get when you are a former centre-right politician who needs to be taken care of. Her multiple bunglings of the transit file are too many to enumerate. So, considering that JP Boutros was Stintz’s senior adviser for much for the last term of council why, exactly, would we endorse him to replace her?
It is a fair question. The answer is that Boutros has worked hard during this campaign to advocate for sensible positions on key policy questions. You perhaps would not expect Karen Stintz’ former adviser to have campaigned so aggressively against the proposed Scarbrorough subway that she helped push through council, at great pain and in the face of all expert evidence, but that is precisely what he has done. Very publicly and repeatedly, Boutros has broken with his former boss on the wisdom of spending more than a billion dollars on transit that is inferior. As her staffer he was required to keep his thoughts to himself; now that he is running for office himself he has not pulled his punches.
Boutros has also come out strongly against Island Airport expansion, emphasized the importance of protecting local parks from development, and made clear his opposition to the OMB (wanting a Toronto-centric replacement). These are all good positions we can support.
Boutros’s main challenger is Christin Charmichael Greb (daughter of Tory MP John Charmichael). She’s running on a fiscally conservative platform (“we need to be able to do more with less; we need to look at things like alternative models of service delivery”) while simultaneously maintaining a strong commitment to the fiscally irresponsible Scarborough subway. This is the kind of pandering doublethink that got the previous term of council into so much trouble; the last thing we need is more councillors happy to endorse unspecified efficiencies on the one hand and politically popular but wildly irresponsible spending on the other.
Boutros’s experience at City Hall means he’ll be able to navigate some of these fraught questions already knowing how the mechanics of behind-the-scenes negotiations work, and his willingness to go out on his own given Stintz’s positions bodes well for his commitment to more evidence-based policy. Accordingly, we are pleased to endorse him for council in Ward 16.