Toronto-Danforth is one of the most widely known federal ridings in the nation, which is due in part to former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton. Due to his death, a federal by-election was called and now 11 candidates are vying for his seat.
A wide range of candidates threw their names into the hat for the upcoming Toronto-Danforth by-election. From mainstream candidates in the big four parties – Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic and Green – to relatively unknown candidates in the minor political groups, such as the Progressive Canadian Party, United Party, Maple Party and Libertarian Party.
Speaking at the Applegrove Community Complex in the heart of Toronto-Danforth, 10 of the 11 candidates introduced themselves to their potential constituents, defined their stances on the issues and urged the community members to support their campaign not to replace former NDP leader Jack Layton, but rather to “follow in his footsteps.”
Thursday night’s all-candidates debate/meeting was the first of two. The second will be held on Mar. 15 at the Don Mills United Church. Voters will head to the polls on Mar. 19.
Who are the candidates? Let’s get a chance to meet them.
Progressive Canadian Party candidate for Toronto-Danforth Dorian Baxter speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
Dorian Baxter | Progressive Canadian Party
Sporting a large cross around his neck and a priest’s white collar, Dorian Baxter represents the Progressive Canadian Party and states, with his commanding voice, that he belongs to the party of Sir John A. Macdonald and not Stephen Harper.
Baxter is consecrated as the Archbishop of the Federation of Independent Anglican Churches of North America and is quite the educated man with a Masters and a B.A. and has garnered principal qualifications for Ontario. He joked that with all of his credentials and qualifications he should be 120 years old.
During his remarks without a microphone, he was able to convey that if he was elected as a Member of Parliament he would give half of his salary back to the riding. He added that in the 1970s, an MP earned $24,000 and four decades a later an MP earns more than $150,000 (not including all of the perks or a budget an MP has).
“We are the party to refuse to allow the merger between Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay. We are the real PC Party; we sued the Harper regime and we seized back the PC name,” said Baxter. “We are the only party that has two wings: our left wing is socially progressive and, with the greatest of respect, I want you to know that our desire is to attack the cause of the politics.”
“In that dimension, I want you to know that I have made a legal pledge: one half of my salary will return to this riding to fund programs for your children and to get them to change the system to know the importance of going to university.”
In the end, Baxter wants to battle poverty, lower taxes, improve the environment, provide better health care and further economic security for families and seniors.
Baxter said that he spoke with a gentleman that said back in the 1970s, there were men like Steve Jobs, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope. In this modern era, “there are no Jobs, no Cash and no Hope.”
Toronto-Danforth Maple Party/independent candidate Leslie Bory speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
Leslie Bory | Maple Party of Canada
Although Leslie Bory is registered as an independent in this election, he is actually leader of the newly formed Maple Party of Canada, which is an unregistered political party. Bory stated in the meeting that the Maple Party is a party that believes Canadians should live for themselves.
If elected, one of the first acts of the Maple Party is to end involvement in all international trade agreements because, according to Bory, these accords put many Canadians out of work and increase the price of goods.
A policy that may resonate with the Occupy movement, Bory advocates a nationwide minimum wage of $15 per hour. He also wants to end temporary work agencies due in part to the abuse that transpires in many of these companies.
“For the Canadian worker, if you want this to change you will have to vote Maple because we will bring these issues forward,” explained Bory.
An issue that isn’t much talked about in Canadian politics is monetary policy. With the increasing economic collapse worldwide, a fiat system that is starting to crumble and a debt crisis being experienced internationally, the role of central banks is starting to come into question.
Bory brought up the issue of our currency and the Bank of Canada. He noted that most people in Canada do not realize that there are companies out there that print our money. “When you go to get your mortgage and get your money, they actually created that money on the spot.”
Toronto-Danforth Liberal candidate Grant Gordon speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
Grant Gordon | Liberal Party
In the last federal election, the Liberal Party went with Andrew Lang in Toronto-Danforth. This year, they went a different route. On Mar. 19, Bob Rae and the Liberals are hoping they can win the general left-wing riding with the help of Grant Gordon.
Gordon, who received tremendous applause throughout the two-hour event, is a man who loves hockey and loves metaphors. When coaching, he states that he doesn’t care about winning but focuses more on passing the puck because the ultimate achievement is winning.
Working in the marketing and advertising sectors since he graduated from the University of Toronto, Gordon’s campaign slogan this year is: “People. Planet. Profit.”
In his opening remarks, he explained that he was asked why he wanted to run. “First two reasons I’m running are simple: One, Stephen. Two, Harper,” said Gordon, which received a round of applause.
Gordon explained that he wants to go to Ottawa to rattle his cage at the prime minister, but not to just ask questions during Question Period. Instead, Gordon wants to focus on helping the people of his riding and concentrate on the issues most important to Toronto-Danforth.
“If I’m elected on Mar. 19, on Mar. 20 at 1 p.m., I will be getting on the ground running trying to solve problems,” said Gordon. “We have to get together our community regardless of political stripes. We have to show Stephen Harper what Canadian values look like; people helping people.”
Toronto-Danforth Conservative Party candidate Andrew Keyes speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
Andrew Keyes | Conservative Party
In what may be a long shot for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, Andrew Keyes is running in Toronto-Danforth because he doesn’t see why Conservative values can’t match Toronto-Danforth values.
Keyes, who had to face the music Thursday night regarding the Robo-call scandal, was plotted at the edge of the debate table. Speaking in a calm demeanour, Keyes highlighted his government’s record.
The 51-year-old communications specialist has lived in the riding for more than 15 years. He wants to bring the Conservative message of lower taxes, higher economic growth and more jobs for everyone on Broadview Avenue, O’Connor Drive, Queen Street East and Coxwell Avenue.
“I decided to run as a Conservative candidate for Toronto-Danforth because I believe there is no reason Conservative values and priorities cannot resonate here just as they do in the rest of Canada,” stated Keyes. “We are committed to a strong economy, an economy that will generate jobs today and insure a secure and prosperous future for our children.”
Toronto-Danforth United Party of Canada candidate Brian Jeden (L) and independent candidate Bahman Yazdanfar.
Brian Jeden | United Party of Canada
Brian Jeden is the leader of the United Party of Canada (UPC). He is also running for the Toronto-Danforth federal seat. Jeden believes that a vote for the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives will result is a big purple bruise.
He postulated that the “big three” parties are the same because they report to their masters and leaders. The UPC crosses the political spectrum: it is socially liberal and it is fiscally responsible.
Supporting a carbon tax and increasing corporate taxes back to 20 percent (now it is 12 percent), Jeden believes his party is the only one that will challenge the status quo and offer a new way to meet economic, environmental and governmental challenges.
“In 2010, the United Party became official party status. Originally made up of displaced liberals, progressive thinking conservatives, NDP and Green Party supporters; many of whom felt strongly in need to bring back the middle class,” said Jeden. “We’re not conservative, liberal or socialist. We’re a group of pragmatic thinkers.”
Toronto-Danforth Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu | Green Party
Be sure to check out Digital Journal’s coverage of Friday night’s campaign rally involving the Toronto-Danforth candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Green Party deputy leader Georges Laraque.
Christopher Porter | Canadian Action Party
Please see our interview with Christopher Porter of the Canadian Action Party in a series we conducted in 2010 called “Inside Canada’s Political Parties.”
John Recker | Libertarian Party
Please see our in-depth profile of John Recker of the Libertarian Party. He could not participate in Thursday night’s debate, but he will be attending the Mar. 15 debate.
Craig Scott | New Democratic Party
Craig Scott strongly believes that he will not be able to fill the big shoes of former NDP leader Jack Layton. However, he wants to follow in his footsteps.
Scott was nominated in January by the NDP to succeed Layton in Toronto-Danforth. He defeated four other candidates.
Promoting human rights, equality and justice in Honduras, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia, Scott has been an advocate to fight poverty and promote rights for Aboriginals.
The York University professor sat down to articulate his stances and thoughts, even though one person in the crowd shouted to Scott, “Stand up!”
“Here in Toronto-Danforth, as you know, is a proud and progressive riding,” said Scott. “The New Democrats serve at every level of government; they have worked together over the years and right now to get things done for people in our neighbourhoods.”
Toronto-Danforth independent candidate John Turmell speaking at the all-candidates debate/meeting in the heart of the riding.
John Turmel | Independent
Who may have been the most entertaining candidate on stage Thursday night, John Turmel, an independent veteran candidate, informed the crowd in an elaborate, charismatic and fun way.
The “anti-poverty engineer” has run for office at every level of government. An activist, engineer, businessman and even innovator, Turmel urged the meeting attendees to focus on the nuclear radiation from Fukushima, the “Climategate” scandal, the more important issues than Robocall and something called the “Argentine Solution.”
Turmell even hinted that he doesn’t believe in the official 9/11 story.
“The greatest thing about the Climategate hoax exposed a couple of years ago is that you don’t need a carbon tax. More carbon just keeps more trees,” enthusiastically stated Turmell. “Now the scientists they do the trick to hide the decline. The hockey stick graph is a complete fraud; there was a bump in the medieval warm period. They fraudulent massaged the data and then they used a trick to hide the decline.”
He noted that he has a real science degree unlike his opponents on stage, which led him to bet $100 that the temperatures on this planet have decreased over the past 10 years.
People who have attended the Occupy Toronto encampment in the fall may remember Turmell. He sported a coal miner’s hat, a suit and played the accordion. At the protest, he talked about a variety of issues, including the “Argentine Solution,” which would pay workers in provincial bonds.
Bahman Yazdanfar | Independent
For more information about Yazdanfar, check out our coverage of his Toronto Centre campaign in last year’s federal election.