Trinity-Spadina All Candidates Debate – Summary by Christine P

On Monday night at the Duke of York, more than 80 local residents joined Why Should I Care in welcoming three provincial MPP candidates for the riding of Trinity-Spadina. Incumbent NDP MPP Rosario Marchese, the Liberal’s Sarah Thomson, and the Green Party’s Tim Grant all attended. The Conservative Candidate declined our invitation… and missed quite a show.

Candidates were permitted to begin with a short speech introducing themselves and their positions. After declining a poorly timed cell phone call, Tim Grant proceeded to pull no punches, calling for public transit reform. He noted that the current debate is mostly about how transit is funded, and not about how transit must be planned in order to be successful and sustainable in the long term. Noting that we spend six times as much on roads as on transit, Grant said transport funding should be more reflective of the province’s 80% urban nature.

Liberal Sarah Thompson took a more personal approach, describing her background both in and outside of the riding and in particular her recent bid for the Mayoral chair, hinting that if elected as MPP, Rob Ford might remain in her sights. She also emphasized her entrepreneurial background, first in transportation and presently as publisher of the Women’s Post, saying that she supported the liberal approach of supporting entrepreneurialism over big government.

Incumbent Rosario Marchese seemed, perhaps not surprisingly, most comfortable with the room, promoting a ‘people focus’ for his politics and applying it to condo owners (vs. developers), rules for junk food advertising, tuition fee reduction, and an electric rail link to the airport. He stated that he promotes a return to the 50/50 funding formula for transit, and an end to corporate tax cuts, both of which provide the tax base for these programs.

Following the candidates’ comments, the floor was opened to questions. Speakers were invited to read their question to the candidates but, because of the limited time with all candidates, the audience was then polled to determine whether a majority present wished to hear the candidates’ responses to, and audience commentary on, the question. Questions concerning treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, Ontario Municipal Board zoning, and the HST failed to make the cut, as did others, but questions on child care, nuclear power, affordable housing, underemployment, and transit made for a very active debate and discussion, relevant to the overwhelming majority of participants.
Perhaps the most heated discussion arose from the question about the maintenance of the separate Catholic school system. Ontario´s Environment Commissioner, Gord Miller wisely added that, with French language education, there are in fact four separate systems. While the crowd present seemed to agree with the United Nations, which has censured Ontario for maintaining this system, only Grant was prepared to state that Ontario should break with this constitutional legacy.
Ultimately, all three candidates engaged with the discussion in a meaningful and unscripted way, which was much appreciated by those in attendance and contributed greatly to the success of the event.

Marchese returned frequently to the theme of provincial funding cuts (mostly attributed to Mike Harris) having had a detrimental impact on the city. He also reflected on, as he put it, a now-chronic unfair funding formula, and the ability of the corporate sector to sustain small tax increases, where required, to return to a more equitable ratio.

Thompson was the most combative of the three, taking several opportunities to challenge the incumbent on having realistic plans to back his politics the power in opposition to effect them, and asked for the voters to make a change after 21 years of consistent representation by him.
Grant preferred to focus on how best practices could be adopted in a variety of areas, from building code to job training, and asked voters to make history by electing him as the first Green member of Ontario’s legislature.

The WSIC team extends their thanks to all the candidates and attendees, and invites you all to join and continue the discussion on-line at, on Facebook, and on Twitter #WSIC_Canada.

By Christine P

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1 Comment on "Trinity-Spadina All Candidates Debate – Summary by Christine P"

  • Armarm says

    Thank you so much NDP Mr. Marchese for taking up this fight on blehaf of our children and families.In this speech you made to the Ontario Legislative Assembly on Thursday May 5, 2011 you spoke about a number of serious issues but I want to personally thank you for making an issue of our collective pain having been dismissed by the Liberal gov’t of Ontario.If you need any volunteers to assist in your upcoming re-election campaign, count me in.Respectfully,Chris Carter

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