Ja-born councillor welcomes new, returning black candidates
Several Jamaicans elected in Canadian municipal election
JAMAICA-BORN Toronto city councillor, Michael Thompson, has welcomed the entry of several black candidates to the council, as a move to bolster more attention for the needs of residents across the province.
“It’s fantastic because, for the longest while I’ve been just that one guy. People from Brampton, people from Durham, people from Whitby, people from all over the city, all different wards, would reach out to my office ‘cause they felt that they weren’t being helped or people didn’t understand the cultural elements that they need to understand to help them through the challenges,” says Thompson who participated in an Operation Black Vote Canada initiative to help Jamaal Myers and Amber Morley in training to prepare themselves to run for council.
In Toronto, three black individuals were elected, including lawyer Myers who was born in Canada and is of Jamaican parentage. He won in Scarborough North, Ward 23, where the incumbent councillor Cynthia Lai died a few days before voting day. The other winners were: Chris Moise, councillor-elect for Toronto Centre, Ward 13, and Morley, councillor-elect for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ward 3.
The other Jamaicans re-elected are school trustees representing Brampton on the Peel District School Board – Kathy McDonald for Wards 3 and 4 and David Green for Wards 1 and 5. Karla Bailey, another Jamaican, was newly elected as a school trustee, for Wards 7 and 8 in Brampton.
The other black candidates elected are: Colleen James – regional councillor, Kitchener-Waterloo; Debbie King – school trustee, Ward 7, Parkdale–High Park, Toronto District School Board; and Alexis Dawson – school trustee, Ward 9, Davenport & Spadina-Fort York, Toronto District School Board
Bailey, who ran in the 2014 and 2018 municipal elections and this time won a seat at the table, said:
“I’ve always been a community-minded person. Our ward needs direction and guidance and they need someone at city hall who will speak for them on behalf of the residents. As a community advocate, I felt that I would be that representative. I could be that representative at city hall, that strong voice that our ward needs at city hall at the time.”
They will be officially sworn in on November 15 and will join Thompson, Toronto’s only black councillor, who has been at Toronto City Council since 2003.
He plans to focus on some of the challenges regarding affordable housing, community safety, gun violence, and jobs and training opportunities for youth, among other matters.
Currently facing two counts of sexual assault, Thompson is scheduled to appear on November 1 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge, Ontario. He will be represented by the law firm Henein Hutchinson LLP.
As a result of the allegations, he resigned as deputy mayor and chair of Toronto’s Economic and Community Development Committee, and resigned from his post on the Centennial College board of directors.
Asked how the legal situation has affected his campaign, Thompson noted that he would not speak to the allegations, but indicated that he had 524 volunteers on his campaign. “That’s more than anybody else in this entire city.”
Of the 18,057 ballots counted, Thompson won handily with 9,977 votes (55.3 per cent), followed by Muhammad Ayub: 2,478 votes (13.7 per cent) and Paul Beatty: 1,857 votes (10.3 per cent).
Thompson said he is sure that some people have drawn whatever conclusions they have based on media reports.
“I just know what I know. I’m not guilty of anything, quite frankly. I just know what I know in terms of who I am, so I’m not afraid to engage people and engage the community and, as you see by the number of votes that came out, people were not concerned. They supported me and, obviously, they’re sending me back to city hall.”