Today, we are publishing our second interview on the contending candidates seeking election as Mayor of Toronto. As yesterday, 80 individuals have registered with the Elections Office at City Hall. We will not be able to give all of them the coverage they might like. Qualified candidates needed to provide at a minimum: 1. Proof of Canadian citizenship 2. Proof of a residence or business in Toronto 3. Endorsement from at least 25 other fellow citizens 4. $200.00
When the registration process closes on May 12, we will publish a list of those who still allow their name to stand. In the meantime, we propose, but will not be limited to, interviewing interested candidates whom “the polls” suggest may garner at least 4% of the votes. In the last election, only 29% of eligible voters cast a ballot.
TORONTO - Public safety; fight financial waste at City Hall; more efficiency in the machinery of city governance; stop the construction of bike lanes, now completely out of control. These issues are the core of Anthony Furey's electoral platform. He is a candidate for Mayor of Toronto in the next city election scheduled for June 26th. An experienced journalist, columnist, and political commentator, Furey decided to take the plunge and move to the other side of the barricade, launching his post-Tory challenge in Toronto.
"My campaign is about standing up for the people. There are a lot of voices that have been excluded from City Hall the past numbers of years: regular folks, small business, different cultural communities, groups, and I will bring back all these voices at City Hall", Furey said during an editorial Board meeting with Corriere Canadese (in the pic above, Furey with the Publisher, Volpe, during the meeting; here below, another picture of the meeting).
Let’s start with your priorities. What do you plan to do the first 100 days as a Mayor?
"Public safety. Toronto has fewer police officers now that we did 10 years ago but the population has increased. Every group I speak with, everybody said they are concerned for their children, they are concerned for their family on transit, walking in the street: we need to invest in our officers, and I'm the only candidate running who has not, at some point, thrown the police force under the bus. Never had, I never will. Second priority; we need to do a program review, there's a lot happening at City Hall that I want to tell people about, so many things happening that are disconnected from what regular folks think their tax dollars should be going to and what they think is a core service. Public safety, transportation, and basic services we forgotten those are the basics to which we have got to get back."
How would you tackle the rise of crime in the City?
"The random attacks we see in our streets and on the transit systems, I'm told by police officers and people in the health profession, have to do with the drug crisis. The majority of them. These are people who have trouble with drugs, and they are not even in control of their own minds. The plan for new injection sites in Toronto will be halted. We're not going to do it; we are going to turn [them] in treatment centres instead, because a compassionate society does not keep people on drugs. Then, we can't allow minor infractions anymore. The subway is dirty, it smells of urine, we are allowing all sort of things to happen right now. We don't have a visible police presence. We need to bring back policing in Toronto."
You were the first candidate to say ''stop to the bike lines''. So, starting from this issue, what is you plan for the traffic flow?
"Everyone in Toronto tells me the bike lines situation has gone too far. I bicycle around with my kids, some people use it to go to work; so, great, we don’t take entire lanes away at a time when the traffic is getting worse. So on major streets they planned for bike lanes on Sheppard, Eglinton, Lawrence West, King Street. Pause, time out, we are not doing it. I saw a video where there is an ambulance turning on Yonge Street and it could not get through, because when you put those bike lanes with the concrete blocks on it, there's not shoulder, so cars can't move to the side. We said we want more core services, more policing, the police can't get there because of the bike lanes."
What's your plan to bring back financial stability at City Hall?
"No new taxes. I'm the only candidate saying no to new taxes. All the city councillors running for Mayor voted to proceeding with something called the Municipal Sales Tax. I don't think the people are fully aware of this. This is a new tax, and we already have the affordability crisis. The price of food goes up, the prices of so many goods are up. What we are going to do is allow as much private development as possible: more housing units, because every new condo that came on the market is an extra 3,000 dollars a year in revenue. So, I'm not going to penalize success by creating new taxes, but we are going to celebrate success with growth and that will bring us revenue. I don’t believe the city should spend its time going to the Province and to the Federal Government asking for more money. A third of the people in the shelter system right now are recent refugees, many of them crossing illegally the border of Roxham Road and Mister Trudeau delays dealing with the problem. We don’t have the hundreds of millions of dollars that are a direct result of that, and I think Mister Trudeau has to pay for that challenge we are facing. He causes the situation; his government has to pay for that."
What about the issues surrounding mental health?
"I believe so much in the mental health crisis and I believe what police and health professions told me: this crisis is related to the drug crisis. No more injection centre; more treatment centres."
Affordable housing seems to be a dream in the City. What is your plan?
"I think that primarily we are suffering for a supply problem. I'm speaking to a lot of real estate developers; they tell me that to get an approval for a project takes so long, too long. I think if something is not approved in six months, it gets auto-approval. [Six months] is a fair amount of time. We can have a lot of growth that can alleviate the housing crisis. The more units we have, the more we can adjust the supply and demands."
Are you planning to use the new Mayor powers?
"I'm not ruling anything out, but the issues I'm seeking a mandate for (affordability, for safety, for families) I hope the majority of councillors will agree with me. I plan to work with them, but I also plan to do what I have to do: stand up for the people of Toronto."
Do you think John Tory did a good job as Mayor?
"I think John Tory is viewed very favourably across the city of Toronto, however, I would say I'm not afraid to take the tough decisions that might make me unpopular for the fringe minority. Ten people show up at City Hall with purple hair, yelling and screaming, call me bad names, but I don't care, I'm still going to do it. [Leadership]Is about to standing up for the people. There are a lot of voices that have been excluded from City Hall the past numbers of years: regular folks, small business, different cultural community groups and I will bring back all these voices at City Hall."
Can you explain your plan for the Land Transfer Tax?
"When a young family buys a home, it is one of the most celebratory days of their life, and there is City Hall saying: ''Great, give me 30,000 dollars''. No, that is wrong. What I want to do is immediately eliminate the Land Transfer Tax for first time home buyers, so we make it so much easier buy a home. I like the idea of phasing out the Land Transfer Tax entirely in the next 4 years, 25% every year. City Council right now is failing to represent the interests of Torontonians. City Council is the problem. I'm a fresh voice, I'm a fresh prospective and a lot of people tell me they don't want a City councillors as a Mayor because the people who broke it are not the people who can fix it."
How do you plan to improve the relations with the Province and with the Federal Government as Mayor?
"I get along with premier Ford just fine… as for Mr Trudeau, just before he became prime minister, we actually had a boxing match together. He punched me in the face, I punched him in the face, and everything is fine... So we get along. I have written a couple critical things about him, but we will get along just fine. But let me say something about another issue. There is a school, downtown, which got in trouble for posting a Happy Mother's Day greeting. I just posted online this: '' I’m hearing from parents of all walks of life across Toronto that just they want a school system focused on academic excellence and safety. No more of this nonsense. As Mayor, I will be the voice for parents who have grown tired of divisive ideologies holding so much sway in our schools. It must stop.'' They are sending home surveys asking grade 3 kids - I have 3 boys, 5-7-9 years old - are you non-binary? We need to stop this. Everyone is concerned about the direction the school system is taking. Safety is the number one priority, but parents are concerned about school. No other candidates have the grit to stand for these parents."
Can the City implement nutritional programs in the schools?
"We have some breakfast and lunch programs in some schools, and I think that there are good not-for-profit groups that are providing it. Working in partnership with them is a good way to proceed. The City doesn't do these things efficiently, these agencies and groups are doing a better job and I would be open to create more partnerships."
(in collaboration with Mariella Policheni, Marzio Pelù and Carlos Lima)