Ask Your Candidate: Tourism and Festivals

By: Lauryn Kronick

Toronto is known as a city of festivals. Whether it’s TIFF and Pride attracting tourists from all over the world or neighbourhood celebrations such as Dundas West Fest and Taste of the Danforth that unite residents and curious locals, there is a festival that caters to most Torontonians each weekend when the weather is on our side (or, ticks us off with the many street closures throughout the year). The following questions will help you figure out if the candidates in your ward support their neighbourhood’s and the city’s festivals, and if tourism is on their agenda:

Where do your ward candidate’s priorities stand with neighbourhood festivals?

Every spring through fall, hundreds of neighbourhood festivals take over the streets, shut them down and bring a community to life. Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival, Albion’s Fusion of Taste, Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sundays are just a few of the many community events that drive traffic to an area, build neighbourhood cohesion and also stimulate local economies. If your ward has an annual festivals, are the residents engaged in the programming and generally excited and supportive about the events? How are businesses being encouraged to participate? If there is currently no street party or neighbourhood festival, does your ward candidate want to make this happen? What is your ward candidate’s relationship with the area’s Business Improvement Association? Do they find closing off streets disruptive or welcome the idea of bringing people out to liven up their area?

How enthusiastic is your ward candidate about attracting tourists to your area? Does tourism play a big role in your ward candidate’s platform?

With the Pan Am Games quickly approaching in 2015, Toronto is gearing up for a large influx of tourists, which will likely mean another busy summer of road closures and transit woes but also a large economic impact, and neighbourhoods playing host to new faces on their sidewalks. Do your ward candidates have an interest in attracting tourists to your neighbourhood? If you live in a central area that has been affected by construction because of the Games or will be in the coming months, how will your ward candidates keep in touch with city planners, contractors and other parties to minimize the impact on businesses.

In the event that your ward candidates do not support the idea of building community through neighbourhood celebrations, these feelings shouldn’t hinder a festival that already exists or create a barrier to starting one on your street or in your area. If your candidate is on board with a project like this and is committed to promoting your neighbourhood to the rest of the city and beyond, it sounds like you have someone who is passionate about keeping your fellow residents engaged and excited about the community they live in.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, September 12


A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • While serving as a witness at the committee hearing for Canada’s proposed sex work bill, former sex worker Terri-Jean Bedford was escorted out of the Senate because she exceeded her allotted response time. Bedford believes the proposed law is a “fundamentally flawed bill” and has often criticized the Senate committee for ignoring sex workers’ testimony.
  • In a show of support for domestic violence survivor Janay Rice, Twitter users employed the hashtag #WhyIStayed to share personal stories of intimate partner violence violence and the reasons why some survivors stay in abusive relationships. Toronto counsellor Farrah Khan of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic spoke to Metro Morning about how to respect survivors while engaging with these issues online.
  • Carleton University students were appalled to find frosh leaders wearing “fuck safe space” shirts, referencing a “safe space” policy that is specifically designed to ensure campus is free of homophobia and heterosexism.
  • After being confronted by Global News last friday, TDSB Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos refused to apologize for his transphobic and homophobic tweets. As transgender rights activist Susan Gapka explained,”It’s very concerning that people elected to public office don’t take the time to learn about our society.”
  • Hamilton activist Holly Jarrett launched the “Am I Next?” campaign, urging the Canadian federal government to investigate and take action on the epidemic of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.


WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, September 5

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Polls are showing that Olivia Chow has fallen to third place in the Toronto mayoral race, behind John Tory and Rob Ford. The Toronto Star argues that this may be due to the falling popularity of the NDP and the rise in Liberal support in Toronto. Although Chow has tried to make her campaign “free of party politics,” she will be hoping for a large NDP turnout on election day.
  • Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she has not heard from or spoken with PM Harper since March, even with her re-election more than two months ago. She admits that she has not “specifically asked for a conversation,” but that she hopes to create a good working relationship between the provincial and federal government. Premier Wynne also stated that she will be supporting Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, during the upcoming federal election.
  • Olivia Chow has announced that, if elected as Toronto mayor, she would raise the land-transfer tax on high-end homes. Chow argues that raising the land-transfer fees by one per cent on homes worth more than $2-million would create an extra $20-million to fund school nutrition programs, as well as engineering studies to improve the TTC.
  • This week, Ontario students returned to school and full-day kindergarten programs are already facing difficulties. Educators and parents have already filed many complaints with the Ministry of Education about the large class sizes. While Ontario daycares must limit sizes to only eight children per one educator, and primary school classes can only have 23 students, there is currently no set limit for students in kindergarten classes.
  • After being treated for tongue and throat cancers which doctors say were caused by HPV, Conservative MP Peter Kent is now speaking out in favour of funding HPV vaccines for boys. Some provinces already vaccinate girls for free, but there is no funding at the moment to vaccinate boys. Kent says that he will speak to Health Minister Rona Ambrose about this idea, and will continued to do what he can to raise awareness of HPV and its links to cancer amongst men and women.
  • On Thursdaythe top four mayoral candidates met for a lunch debate organized by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Globe and Mail. Gathered in front of a sold-out crowd of business leaders, candidates used the opportunity to challenge each other on their respective funding proposals for transit, while also discussing youth unemployment and affordable housing.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, August 29

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Etobicoke Centre councillor Glora Lindsay Luby announced she will not be seeking re-election, surprising council in a farewell speech on Thursday. Luby was frequently at odds with Mayor Rob Ford, who called her a “waste of skin” in 2005, and was one of the early voices calling for Mayor Ford’s resignation after his crack-cocaine scandal.
  • Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders are calling on the federal government to have key ministers meet with them for a roundtable discussion on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper ruled out a national public inquiry last week. Michèle Audette, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, welcomed calls for the roundtable as a first step in “a new chapter.”
  • After new data was released by a coalition of community activists and social agencies revealing that child poverty in Toronto has reached “epidemic” levels with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families, three mayoral candidates spoke out on plans to combat child poverty, at a forum organized by local advocacy groups.
  • After the integrity commissioner found that Toronto City Councillor Maria Augimeri violated the code of conduct by calling political rival Gus Cusimano a “criminale,” Mayor Rob Ford expressed outrage that Torontonians would be footing the $5,000 bill to cover the cost of processing the complaint.
  • Playboy Magazine published a flow-chart that asks the question: when it is appropriate to catcall a woman in public? (Their answer: when she has consented the catcalling beforehand, or when she is literally a cat.)

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, August 22

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • City councillor Karen Stintz has dropped out of the Toronto mayoral race, citing low poll numbers and insufficient campaign funds. At a press conference at city hall on Thursday, Stintz admitted that she was “disappointed that my visions and ideas did not gain the traction I had hoped,” and indicated that she will be leaving politics permanently.
  •  Warren Kinsella, a senior advisor on Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign, was in hot water this week over comments he madeabout candidate John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan. Kinsella dubbed the plan as “Segregation Track” on Twitter Tuesday, pointing to the way it avoids two neighbourhoods with sizable black populations. “I unreservedly and genuinely express apologies for hurting your feelings,” wrote Kinsella in a blog post addressed to Tory.
  •  Stephen Harper has ruled out a national inquiry into missing and aboriginal women, despite persistent requests after the murder of 15 year-old Tina Fontaine. “We should not view this as sociological phenomenon,” the PM told a news conferenceThursday. “We should view it as crime.” Aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.
  • A New Democrat MP has quit the caucus over what she felt was an excessively pro-Israel stance on the current conflict in Gaza. Sana Hassainia, who represents the Montreal-area riding of Vercheres-Les Patriotes, was specifically critical of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in a blog post that appeared online Wednesday. Party members have responded by suggesting that Hassainia was simply looking for an excuse to cover up her poor attendance; so far this year, Hassainia has the worst voting record of all MPs, showing up for only 8.7 per cent of votes in the House of Commons.


WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, August 15th

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • A new report from U of T’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance brings to light Toronto’s infrastructure funding shortfall, stating that $2.5 billion will be needed by 2020 to maintain existing assets.
  • Police Chief Bill Blair dropped threats of a lawsuit after accepting Councillor Doug Ford’s apology for accusing police of leaking a story to the Toronto Star that police were preparing to subpoena Mayor Rob Ford to testify as a witness in the extortion case against friend Alexander Lisi.
  • Maytree Foundation president Ratna Omidvar distinguished the Live-in Caregiver program from other Temporary Foreign Worker Programs, and called for the government to focus on strengthening it instead of scrapping it, arguing that live-in caregivers do not fill a temporary gap, but rather meet a long-term labour need.
  • Star columnist Judith Timson called Alison Redford’s departure from politics a “Disappointment to Women,” and asked whether the Alberta Premier was held to a different standard.
  • Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci released a report on how Toronto police should deal with people in crisis, outlining 84 recommendations. Here are six.
  • After the recent shifts in the mayoral polls, The Star addressed questions about the polling process and its reliability.