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article imageToronto Councillor: If you have kids you’re responsible for them

By Andrew Moran     Jan 12, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - Toronto Budget Chief Mike Del Grande had a private one-hour conversation with Hakim Kassam, a former constituent, on Aug. 10 on $400,000 cuts to student breakfast programs. Kassam recorded the conversation without Del Grande knowing.
Next week, city councillors and the mayor will sit down in the council chambers at city hall and debate the 2012 capital and operating budget. Although it has been revised to some extent, the budget still includes spending cuts to various City initiatives and programs.
In a conversation with one of his former constituents, Mike Del Grande, Ward 38 councillor and budget chief, defended a proposition to cut $400,000 in school meals for low-income children during a one-hour conversation on Aug. 10 at city hall.
Hakim Kassam, who works for a non-profit organization that deals with food, recorded the conversation on his iPhone without Del Grande knowing. This week, Kassam provided the conversation to the Toronto Star, which then published the recording and an article on the entire ordeal.
Kassam explained that he recorded the conversation for personal reference. With days until the budget debate, Kassam re-listened to the recording and decided to make it public because he feels socially conservative ideology helped shape next week’s budget.
Del Grande defended his opposition to the student meal programs because he feels that parents should be responsible for their own children and not the state. He also opposes the way it’s funded.
“The nation is not supposed to be in the bedrooms of the people. But then when you come out of the bedroom and you have children, why is it the state’s responsibility to look after your children?” explained the former Catholic school trustee. “I didn’t tell you to wear a condom or not wear a condom or how many children – you made that decision.”
Later in the discussion, Del Grande cited three youth agencies that are located near each other in the Scarborough area and put forth the idea of possibly closing two of them.
“The violence has not decreased, nothing has changed. People come out there with, I hate to generalize, but they’ve all got cellphones,” said Del Grande. “I don’t have a BlackBerry personally. I operate on a $23-a-month phone for business. They come out there with BlackBerrys, iPhones, $200, $300 running shoes, etc. Like the priorities are all mixed up.”
Kassam said that not everyone is like that because he has tutored many kids who are “engaged in the curriculum.” Del Grande agreed and said it is not everyone, but “priorities of people are very different.”
“I know a lady that’s on social assistance. She has three kids with two different fathers, getting social assistance. The two boys and her have cellphones,” added Del Grande. “Now, $50, $50, $50. that’s $150 a month for cellphones when you should be thinking, ‘Is this my priority? Maybe I need to feed my family or pay my rent instead of three cellphones for $150.’ You’ve made lifestyle choices. Why then do you ask me to subsidize you when you’re not prepared to make those choices?”
Kassam actually defended Del Grande by saying that he “isn’t a bad person,” but rather he thinks what he is currently doing is “the right thing for the city.”
A large protest is expected Tuesday night at city hall when city council debates the budget.
More about mike del grande, 2012 toronto budget, hakim kassam, student breakfast programs, budget chief
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