About the Ward
Etobicoke North is located in the northwest corner of Toronto, stretching between the Humber River and Highway 427. Etobicoke North is a diverse ward—58 percent of the population is made up of immigrants, and 76 percent identify as visible minorities. Ward 1 was created in 2018, when Wards 1 and 2 were combined. A Ford family member has served as councillor for the ward from 2000 until this June, when Michael Ford resigned after winning a seat in the 2022 provincial election. Rosemarie Bryan won the vacant spot, but resigned shortly after when social media posts resurfaced that appeared to show her sharing anti-LGBTQ2+ content. Rose Milczyn was appointed interim councillor in August, but said that she never intended to and is not running for election.
Where the Candidates Stand
This is the first time in 22 years that the area will not be represented by a member of the Ford family. There are a total of 16 candidates seeking to fill the vacuum, including former councillor and Ford ally Vincent Cristani.
The matrix below provides a head-to-head comparison of where council candidates stand. The Local combed through city council records to review all the decisions made over the last four years and identified a dozen votes that are the most telling on key issues: homelessness, transportation, housing, policing, taxes, and the environment. The Local then asked all candidates to participate in a survey asking them how they would have voted on those same 12 motions.
Of the 16 candidates running, only six participated in The Local’s survey.
Here Are the Takeaways
- While most of the six candidates took progressive stances on many issues, almost all were against raising taxes. Only one, Dev Narang, said he would hike it two percent and consider a personal vehicle tax.
- Candidate Alistair Courtney appears to be the most progressive of those who responded to The Local’s survey, indicating support for making ActiveTO bike lanes permanent, a judicial enquiry into encampment clearings, and cutting the police budget to fund rent supplements.
- Bike lanes are not particularly popular in Ward 1. Three respondents—John Genser, Dev Narang, and Ricardo Santos—were against making ActiveTO bike lanes permanent.
- The candidate who voted most closely in line with John Tory was John Genser, who matched the mayor’s no votes on hiking property taxes to fund a TTC fare freeze, more affordable units for Housing Now, cutting the police budget, and raising property taxes.
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City Council Candidates
Abraham Abbey is a community worker and human services worker with experience in the non-profit sector. Since 2014, Abbey has served on the board of directors for the Rexdale Community Hub. Abbey graduated from York University in 2003 with a degree in Sociology. Earlier this year, Abbey was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford, but lost to Rosemarie Bryan. During an Oct 5 debate, Abbey said one of his key platform priorities is removing parking fees for Toronto Community Housing tenants. He also said he would like rent increases to occur every two years instead of annually.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Subhash Chand is the owner of Chand Tax & Debt Limited. On his website, he says that living and working in Etobicoke North for the last 10 years fulfils his passion for helping others in the community. His platform centres around building safer and cleaner neighbourhoods, better roads, youth development, relief for small businesses affected by LRT construction and affordable housing.
Alistair Courtney served as the director of public relations for George Brown University from 2010 to 2014. Courtney has a decade of experience in the entertainment sector, having worked with organizations such as Pride Toronto, Canada Music Week, and North by Northeast. He currently works as a box office supervisor for the Toronto International Film Festival. Courtney has taken the Right to Housing pledge supporting affordable housing.
Vincent Crisanti is a former city councillor for Ward 1, holding the office from 2010 to 2018 and losing his seat to Michael Ford in the last municipal election. Crisanti was a councillor during Rob Ford’s tenure as mayor and often voted in line with Ford’s policies. During his term, Crisanti was appointed to the TTC board by city council in 2010, and then removed in 2012. In 2017, he was removed of his duties as one of the city’s deputy mayors by John Tory after Crisanti announced his support for Doug Ford, a potential rival to Tory in the upcoming election. Ford would later cancel his mayoral campaign to run for leadership of the Ontario PC Party. Crisanti commits to advocating for transit improvements if elected, including for two additional stops at Rexdale Boulevard and the GO Station at Highway 27 and Belfield. He says he will also continue to work with local businesses to create jobs and encourage economic growth in the community.
Michelle Garcia is a community activist who ran for city council in 2018 (receiving 439 votes) and 2014 (receiving 254 votes). There is limited information online about Garcia’s platform. However, for an Oct 16 publication by The Carribean Camera, Garcia said her top campaign priorities are to address affordable housing by creating a plan for more vertical living units over a ten-year period, and to reduce gun violence. She also says she wants to address racial discrimination.
John Genser is a longtime Woodbine resident. He has worked as a financial analyst at Woodbine Entertainment Group for 22 years. Earlier this year, Genser was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford, but lost to Rosemarie Bryan. He expressed that he was running because he’s worried about inflation and wants the city to pass a budget that eases residents’ worries. Genser’s platform consists of keeping property taxes low and building infrastructure.
Avtar Minhas is a Toronto realtor and owner of an auto-repair business, which he established in 1999. He ran in the 2014 elections where he placed second with 3118 votes. Minhas is a former trustee for Ward 1 from 2016 to 2018, winning his seat in a by-election. During his term, he co-sponsored a motion to observe Hindu Heritage Month in November across Toronto Schools. His platform mentions affordable housing, road safety and TTC improvements, opportunities for youth, and addressing the climate crisis.
Dev Narang is a business owner, former realtor, and actor with a background in mechanical engineering. He has appeared in several short films, shows, and commercials, and has previously been president of the Niagara Innkeepers Association. Narang is an opinion writer for the Times of India, where he has advocated for a better COVID response from the government, and previously wrote for the Guelph Mercury, where he was a member of the community editorial board. Earlier this year, Narang was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford, but lost to Rosemarie Bryan. As part of his campaign, Narang wants to improve existing infrastructure in his ward, advocate for better roads, housing, and senior care, support small businesses and workers’ rights, and decrease TTC fare to $2.50.
Chris Noor is a longtime Ward 1 resident who previously ran in the 2018 municipal elections, where he placed eighth with 214 votes. He also ran in the 2014 municipal elections, where he placed eleventh with 172 votes. Earlier this year, Noor was one of 21 candidates who appied to fill the position of city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford, but lost to Rosemarie Bryan. As part of his previous campaign, Noor wanted to create a poverty tax reserve fund and create a mobile food bank truck. Noor’s platform consists of extending the Finch LRT, creating a safe injection site in the community, supporting unhoused people, and reducing violence.
Charles Ozzoude is a health researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital with a background in health science and community organizing. His research focuses on the intersection of equity and community health. Previously, he worked as a strategy research intern for Toronto Community Housing where he helped develop a strategy to address anti-Black racism. His platform includes plans to ensure upgrades to Toronto Community Housing buildings, as well as helping police “build better relationships with the community, especially Black residents,” by having mental health professionals work with police in crisis situations. According to his site, he promises to advocate for more funding for housing and transit in Etobicoke North, including more Express Buses, and to work with local leaders and health centres to “tackle COVID-19”.
Earlier this year, Ozzoude was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford, but lost to Rosemarie Bryan, who has since resigned. Ozzoude has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, Progress Toronto, and the Toronto Star.
On his Instagram profile, Donald Pell writes he has 40 years of experience in grocery retail sales, which has allowed him to interact with community members on a daily basis. While there is limited information about Pell’s platform, he says he would like to address even small changes in his ward that have been traditionally neglected.
According to his website, Kristian Santos is a longtime Ward 1 resident and a business professional who has experience working with corporations in the IT industry and with government bids. He notes three key platform priorities including working with the North Etobicoke Resident Council to establish community representatives that meet regularly and encourage collaboration between neighbourhoods. Santos also wants to develop an Etobicoke North business committee that supports small businesses and requests commercial businesses to prioritize residents for job fulfilment. He has taken the Right to Housing pledge for affordable housing and says he will continue to support their movement if elected.
Ricardo Santos is a long-time Toronto resident with ties to northern Etobicoke. According to his website, he is a cancer survivor. His campaign website doesn’t list any specific policy plans, though he says he will work to address the cost of living, mental health, safety, and transit infrastructure in the city. He also says he will support youth programs and community programs.
Mohit Sharma is a long-time Ward 1 resident with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Governance from Toronto Metropolitan University. According to his LinkedIn profile, he currently works as a Data Entry Associate for a retailer and has previous experience in project management. His platform emphasizes mental health support, improving public transit, and building a hydroponic farm in Ward 1. Sharma has also taken the Right to Housing pledge supporting affordable housing.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
School Trustee Candidates
On her campaign website, Yasmin Aden describes herself as having years of community service and volunteer experience with a passion for public policy that led her to pursue a graduate degree. As part of her platform, she wants to focus on promoting equity and diversity in education, strengthen safety in schools, and address mental health needs following COVID-19 closures.
Tahir Ahmad, a Naturopath and owner of an acupuncture and rehab clinic in Etobicoke, ran for Ward 1 trustee in 2014, placing third out of eight candidates, and in 2016, placing sixth out of fourteen candidates. Earlier this year, Ahmad was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of Ward 1 city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford. He lost to Rosemarie Bryan.
Dennis Hastings is a realtor who ran for the TCDSB Ward 12 trustee position in the 2018 municipal election, placing fifth out of five candidates. There is limited information about his campaign at the time of publication.
Gurjeet Pabla is a certified professional accountant. According to his LinkedIn profile, he also served as a brand marketing director for a student organization focused on improving education for underserved communities in Latin America, and helped manage a basketball team in Ward 1, an area he emphasizes he grew up and attended school in. According to his campaign website, Pabla has identified focus areas he wants to improve, including class sizes, student safety, infrastructure, and equity.
Amandeep Phul is a real estate broker with Re/Max, where he earned the Re/Max Hall of Fame award, an achievement given to realtors who earn over 1 million in gross commissions. He is also a member of the Toronto District Cricket Association. There is limited information about his campaign at the time of publication.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Marinka Ranasinghe lists her current professional role as Residential Funding Support for a Toronto-based bank. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has previous experience as a research analyst and teacher. She is also a Division Director at District 60 Toastmasters, a communications and leadership development organization. While online details of her campaign are limited, Ranasinghe says she has plans to implement programs that reflect inclusivity and foster confidence and growth in students. She says her vision includes engagement with senior citizens.
Joseph Martino is the incumbent TCDSB trustee for Ward 1, a position he has held since being re-elected in 2010. Martino was first elected at the Metropolitan Separate School Board in 1986, then with the TCDSB, where he served as chair of the board from 1998-1999. Martino was elected as the Chair once again in 2019, where he sat until 2021. During his term, he supported a motion to amend the TCDSB’s code of conduct to include LGBTQ+ language (gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status). He also voted in favour of a motion for the TCDSB to recognize June as Pride month and fly the Pride flag. In 2008, Martino and several other trustees came under fire after a Toronto Star report found they had racked up a total $4,244 in ineligible expenses, and an additional $18,857 that were deemed “potentially ineligible.” Martino was individually linked to $1,783 in ineligible expenses including tax software and car washes, all of which he reportedly paid back.
Robert Pella is a realtor with Royal LePage Maximum Realty, and a Catholic retreat leader and speaker. He is interested in maintaining and building upon policies that reflect “gospel values” and existing core subjects. Pella says he supports parents’ rights as opposed to government overreach, and that he will prioritize budget for busing, infrastructure upgrades, and international languages resources.
Geneviève Oger - Incumbent
Geneviève Oger is the incumbent trustee for Conseil scolaire Viamonde Ward 4 – Ouest. She was elected in 2018 and has won the election by acclamation for the coming term, given she is running unopposed. Oger is the acting Senior Policy & Issues Advisor to the Deputy Minister’s Office at the Ontario Ministry of Francophone Affairs. She was the former media spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, and was formerly a journalist. She is also vice chair of the Conseil Scolaire Viamonde – Ouest board and sits on the board of directors for Association des Conseils Scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario. As part of her 2018 campaign, Oger said she prioritizes inclusivity in schools, providing support for multicultural, multilingual families to pass on their language and culture to the next generation, and ensuring the engagement and consultation of parents in decision-making.
Nathalie Dufour Séguin - Incumbent
Nathalie Dufour Séguin is the incumbent trustee for MonAvenir Ward 3 – Toronto Ouest and has been re-elected by acclamation for the 2022 term as she is running unopposed. She was first elected trustee by ballot vote in 2006 and received acclamation in 2010. In 2014, she decided to step down to pursue other projects and was re-elected by ballot vote in 2018. Outside of the TCDSB, Dufour Séguin is an Education Community Relationship Manager for Groupe Média TFO, a media company that generates educational and cultural content for the Ontario Francophone community. She is also a former board member and former president of Toronto Francophone Women’s Shelter La Maison d’hébergement francophone de Toronto.
Dufour Séguin is on the MonAvenir School Council, having originally joined in 2006 when she became trustee (when the school was named Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud). After serving as vice president for two years, she was elected president in 2012, a role she held until 2014. In 2013, under Dufour Séguin’s leadership, the school council launched a discrimination action against the province as a means of forcing the Ministry of Education to replace one of their Hamilton-based schools with a new, larger building for the expanded student population. An issue Dufour Séguin said people have been advocating for since the 1990’s, the council invoked charter rights by arguing the Francophone school was not being resourced adequately and therefore access to education was not equal to those in Anglophone schools.
Information in Candidate Tracker was compiled and written by The Local’s team of journalists and fact checkers. City council candidates were emailed a questionnaire asking for information about their history, experience, and plans. They were also surveyed about their stances on twelve key votes that took place in the 2018-22 council term. Not all candidates were reachable or responded. The Local also conducted its own research to independently source and verify information about each city council and school trustee candidate. If you’re a candidate whose information is not here, please email us at email@example.com. Last updated: October 11, 2022.
Contributors: Inori Roy, Ann Marie Elpa, Nikky Manfredi, Danielle Orr, H.G. Watson, Emma Buchanan, Dhriti Gupta, Zeahaa Rehman, Neville Park, Nicholas Hune-Brown, Tai Huynh, Craig Madho, Steve Combes, and Lia Mattacchione.
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