About the Ward
Scarborough Centre is bordered by Eglinton Avenue to the south, Highway 401 to the north, McCowan and Bellamy Roads to the east, and Victoria Park Avenue to the west. The ward has a large visible minority population, at 70%, which is well above the city’s 51 percent. South Asians make up over a quarter of the ward’s population. The ward has a lower household income than the city average, at just $70,624. Incumbent councillor Michael Thompson has served on city council since 2003.
Where the Candidates Stand
There are six candidates in the race for the Scarborough Centre city council seat, including incumbent Michael Thompson. In September, Thompson was charged with two counts of sexual assault, but he is seeking re-election nonetheless. He is facing five challengers: Muhammad Ayub, Paul Beatty, Hansie Daniel, Luigi Lisciandro, and Kiri Vadivelu (see their fact-checked bios in the next section).
The matrix below provides a head-to-head comparison of where council candidates stand on key issues. 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 different issues: homelessness, transportation, housing, policing, taxes, and the environment. We then sent the challengers a survey asking them how they would have voted on those same 12 motions, adding the results to what we already know about how Thompson voted.
Firstly, we didn’t get full participation in the survey—permitting a head-to-head comparison among Thompson, Daniel, and Vadivelu only.
Here Are the Takeaways
- Incumbent Michael Thompson consistently voted with Mayor John Tory (and other right-leaning councillors), and took conservative positions on taxes and policing; Thompson also voted “no” to a motion to prevent above guideline rent increases in Housing Now units, an issue Tory was in favour of.
- Hansie Daniel, whose platform prioritizes affordable housing, voted in favour of deeping the affordability of the Housing Now initiative, but voted against paying for toilets in encampments.
- Kiri Vadivelu, an advocate for affordable housing, voted in favour of deeping the affordability of the Housing Now initiative; Vadivelu was the only candidate to support the motion to cut the police budget to pay for rent supplements and to not increase the police budget to combat gun violence. He wrote that he would go further: “Defund police budget by 50% and build housing for all.”
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City Council Candidates
Muhammad Ayub works in real estate and has worked on the federal campaigns of both Conservative and Liberal MPs. His website points to crime prevention, affordable housing, cleaner parks, and lower taxes as platform priorities. He also wants to form resident-led “advisory panels” to address the ward’s concerns. He also wants to create a more business-friendly environment in the ward.
Little information is available online about Paul Beatty. He ran in the 2022 provincial elections as an independent candidate, where he placed ninth, and also ran in Scarborough Centre in the 2018 municipal election, where he placed second with 1638 votes (compared to incumbent Michael Thompson’s 16,542).
Hansie Daniel is a management consultant in the construction industry and owner of JR Consulting who has lived in the ward for nearly 13 years. Daniel told The Local that his strategy was to energize voters with the promise of a “new face” for the ward.He holds a Master of Business Administration from Cape Breton University. As part of his campaign, Daniel says he will fight for affordable housing that meets the needs of a high immigration rate, housing for seniors, safer streets, and more recreational facilities and community gardens. He also says he will support evidence-based policy regarding the Scarborough Rapid Transit and Eglinton Crosstown LRT (ECLRT) project to improve public transit.
Little information is available online about Luigi Lisciandro. He previously ran for Ward 37 city councillor in the 2014 election, where he placed third out of three candidates.
Michael Thompson - Incumbent
Michael Thompson has been the incumbent city councillor for Scarborough Centre since 2003 (formerly Ward 37). Thompson is also the deputy mayor for the east area of the city. He also helped to strengthen investments in the arts.
As chair of the Economic Development Committee for the past two terms, he has been excessively fond of City-funded junkets. In 2018, the Integrity Commissioner found that Thompson had improperly attempted to expedite a development on behalf of a developer friend; however, Council did not take any formal action.
During the 2005 “Summer of the Gun,” Thompson drew controversy for statements perceived to support racial profiling; however, over the years his political stance has evolved. On the Toronto Police Services Board from 2010-2014, he and chair Alok Mukherjee pushed for reforms. In recent years Thompson has grown increasingly critical of policing in Toronto, describing the police’s lack of traffic enforcement as retaliation for a budget freeze and tabling motions to reduce the police budget.
In late September of this year, Thompson was charged with two counts of sexual assault, to which he will be pleading not guilty. He subsequently resigned from his roles as deputy mayor and economic and community development committee chair, though not from his role as city councillor. The case is ongoing. Thompson is seeking re-election, despite the charges, and has remained largely silent about the allegations. He did not respond to The Local’s request for comment in an October report.
Kiri Vadivelu is a community advocate and volunteer with tenant advocacy group ACORN Toronto, a tenant advocacy group. In 2020, Vadivelu fought against his building’s superintendent, speaking out against a lack of necessary repairs and living conditions and subsequently winning his case against his landlord. He told The Local that the situation and lack of response from Michael Thompson was the reason he decided to run for councillor. Vadivelu’s platform includes free public transit, repairs to schools, free 24-hour child care, and defunding the police by 50 percent. His most extensive plans are in regards to houselessness and housing, where he promises to repeal the no-camping bylaw, introduce “real” rent control and freeze, require 50 percent of new condos to be rented a media-market rent and create a public and accessible system for reporting landlord abuses. He also wants all expropriated units (housing that is taken by the city) to become non-profit housing, rented only at the cost of utilities and maintenance
School Trustee Candidates
Opa Hope Day
Opa Hope Day describes herself as a mother of four, a wellness entrepreneur and a self-development coach. She also started Empowering the Teen Spirit Wellness Centre online, which is no longer active. On her campaign website, she says she is concerned with the direction of the TDSB curriculum because she feels it is more concerned with “pushing ideologies than preparing students for entrepreneurship.” Day is interested in “getting back” to a curriculum that focuses on entrepreneurship skills, empowering all students, and providing equal access to opportunities. She wants to develop what she refers to as a TDSB Specialty Support Program that would increase access to services like the TTC or lessons for children who require additional support through collaborations with external organizations and community partnerships. Hope Day also wants to create a one-year exchange work program for specialty program teachers to travel to Africa, the Lesser Antilles or Central America.
Dakk Marrello describes himself as a father of two and an engineering and legal consultant. He is a member in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario as a paralegal. Marrello is also chair of Glamorgan Junior Public School council. While there is no detailed information about Dakk’s campaign, on his campaign website, he says he will support the TDSB’s multi-year plan.
Zamir ul Hassan Nadeem
Zamir ul Hassan Nadeem previously ran for Ward 21 city councillor in 2018, having placed eighth out of eleven candidates. Social media activity shows Nadeem was campaigning for vice-president of the NDP Party’s Federal Ridings Association in May 2019 and a politics blog indicates he may have pursued the NDP nomination for Scarborough Centre in the 2022 provincial election and later stepped down. He has self-described as a community worker and organizer. There is limited information online regarding his trustee campaign and professional experience.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Muhammad Waseem Qadeer
According to his website, Muhammad Waseem Qadeer is a software developer with a Masters in Artificial Intelligence from Toronto Metropolitan University. He is interested in increasing after school programs and school staffing. If elected, he says he will also improve engagement with parents with regular town halls.
Neethan Shan is the executive director of Urban Alliance Race Relations, a non-profit charitable organisation that provides research and educational programs on racial equity. He was the TDSB trustee for Ward 21 from 2014 to 2018, a former Toronto city councillor from 2017 to 2018, and was both the former president of the Ontario NDP and the NDP’s chosen candidate for the 2022 Ontario provincial election for Scarborough Centre. Shan has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. He says he prioritizes making resources and opportunities directly available to all students in Scarborough so they don’t have to travel for those opportunities. Shan also wants to improve school infrastructure and safety.
Kareem South is a culture and diversity associate at the not-for-profit mental health consultancy group Stepped Care Solutions, a former professional athlete and a recent master’s graduate from the University of California-Berkeley where he studied Public Health. According to his campaign website, he is focused on creating school environments that are conducive to mental wellbeing and centring students’ voices and needs in his decisions. Kareem also says he is committed to expanding extracurricular activities and sports that prioritize inclusion and community.
Kostadinos Stefanis was an independent candidate for Scarborough Centre in the 2022 Ontario provincial election, having placed eighth out of ten candidates. There is limited available information online about this candidate’s campaign.
Zuhair Syed is the founder of a market research company that assists small and medium-scale businesses in the community. Previously, Syed ran in the 2017 municipal by-election as a city councillor candidate in Ward 42 for Scarborough-Rouge River where he placed second out of twenty-nine candidates. As a city councillor candidate, he advocated for funding for the Scarborough subway extension project and improving urban parks and spaces. Syed’s Ward 17 trustee platform prioritizes fiscal responsibility, suggesting better management of Toronto’s education budget is needed as a way to meet student needs. He says smaller class sizes are a top priority for him but that such commitments cannot come at the expense of a balanced budget.
Aylwin Thengampallil is self-employed. He was a National Citizens Alliance of Canada parliamentary candidate for Scarborough Centre in the 2021 federal election, having placed fifth of five candidates. Information about this candidate’s campaign could not be found at time of publication.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Daniel Cubellis describes himself as a lifelong Scarborough resident, and has a degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto. He says he is currently also volunteering as a coach with the Scarborough Thunder Minor Football Association. He previously ran in the 2018 municipal election as a candidate for Ward 25, where he placed seventh of eleven.
Mike Del Grande
Mike Del Grande is the incumbent TCDSB trustee for Ward 7 since 2014 where he served as Chair for the 2014-2015 school year and as a Vice-Chair for the 2018-2019 school year. Previously, he was a city councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt from 2003 to 2014. As several news publications have reported, Del Grande was censured by the TCDSB in November 2020 after he equated LGBTQ rights to bestiality, pedophilia and other terms related to cannibalism and vampirism during a debate to change the board’s code of conduct in November 2019 (the board reversed its earlier August 2020 decision that Del Grande did not breach the trustee’s code of conduct and moved to impose censure and sanctions in November 2020). Del Grande denies he made such comparisons. He subsequently took medical leave in January 2021 after a failed appeal to overturn the disciplinary action. Del Grande also made headlines in 2014 when, in his opening speech as TCDSB Chair, he noted that the 2014 sex ed curriculum and HPV vaccine program for grade 8 girls presented “moral issues” for the Catholic school system. His priorities include making sure the TCDSB can “maintain its authentic Catholic character” and protecting parents’ rights.
According to his website, Nelson Lui is a TCDSB graduate and University of Toronto alumni holding a degree in History, English, and Political Science. As part of his campaign, Lui wants to save Catholic schools from shutting down, make a COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for all schools, and implement harm reduction services into existing counselling services. He also wants to provide more funding and inter-professional collaboration to special education, as well as provide early education about Truth and Reconciliation.
Benoit Fortin - Incumbent
Benoit Fortin is the incumbent trustee for Conseil scolaire Viamonde Ward 2 – Est. He has held office since 2018, and has been elected by acclamation in this year’s election given he was running unopposed. Fortin is the founding member and Vice President of Development in Africa and India of Skypower, which develops, funds and runs utility-scale renewable power projects internationally. He is also vice-president of the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario board of directors, which represents all French-language public school boards in the province. While there is limited information about his priorities, Fortin has commented publicly as vice-president of the board on the importance of keeping students in the francophone school system until grade 12 and of meeting the specific needs of a growing francophone community following an announcement of funding from the Ontario government to build a new school.
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date.
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date. In an email to parents sent on October 21, Rawdat said he was ending his campaign. Read more about ineligible trustees running in French-language schools.
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date. On October 21, Wilson notified the city clerk that he is not eligible to hold office. Read more about ineligible trustees running in French-language 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Last updated: October 22, 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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