About the Ward
Roughly bordered by Highway 401 to the south, Midland Avenue to the west, Steeles to the north, and Neilson Road to the east, Scarborough North contains neighbourhoods like Agincourt, Milliken, Malvern, and Morningside Heights. It is one of the most diverse wards in the city—67 percent of residents are immigrants, and 92 percent identify as visible minorities. In the 2018 election, the ward had the lowest voter turnout in the city, electing Cynthia Lai.
Where the Candidates Stand
There are four candidates in the race for the Scarborough North city council seat, including incumbent Cynthia Lai. In the 2018 election, which was an open race after Chin Lee vacated the seat to run in the provincial election, Lai won with just 27 percent of the votes. She is facing three challengers, Phillip Francis, Virginia Jones, and Jamaal Myers (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 Lai voted.
Firstly, the participation rate in the survey was low—permitting a head-to-head comparison between Lai and Myers only.
Here Are the Takeaways:
- Incumbent Cynthia Lai has mostly voted with Mayor John Tory (and other right-leaning councillors), and took conservative positions on taxes and policing; she opposed the mayor on the city renting toilets for encampments and banning above guideline rent increases in Housing Now units, voting no to both.
- Jamaal Myers didn’t answer four of the questions, specifically votes related to policing, a property tax increase of an additional 2 percent, and toilets for encampments; on the issues that Myers voted on, he took progressive stances.
Read Our Election Stories:
Ongoing coverage of Toronto’s 2022 municipal election. In-depth features on the issues at stake, hyper-local coverage of competitive ward races across the city, and a Candidate Tracker tool to keep you informed this fall.
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City Council Candidates
Phillip Francis is a financial advisor who has lived in Scarborough since 1995. His platform includes free TTC for seniors, as well as extending existing bus routes and building a senior retirement home. Fracis told the Scarborough Mirror that his top three issues are healthcare, housing and road safety.
Cynthia Lai - Incumbent
On Friday, October 21, Cynthia Lai’s campaign announced that she had died in hospital. Lai had been councillor for Ward 23 — Scarborough North since 2018. They did not provide details about a cause of death. According to the city clerk, elections in Scarborough North will proceed as planned and her passing will be made known to voters. “Any votes cast for the candidate on election day, as well as those already cast during the advance vote and through mail-in voting, will not be counted.”
Jamaal Myers is a community organizer with a background in law. He currently works at TD Bank as senior legal counsel, where he oversees the bank’s climate action. An active volunteer in his community, Myers is the former vice president of the board of directors at the TAIBU Community Health Centre, and a former board member for the Scarborough Business Association. As a member of Scarborough Transit Action, Myers advocated for the Eglinton East LRT line. As part of his campaign, Myers wants to increase pedestrian safety by creating a network of biking, walking, and transit paths, and wants to improve TTC reliability and service. He has committed to ensuring that the city reaches its target of building 40,000 new affordable homes by 2030. Myers has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council and Progress Toronto.
School Trustee Candidates
Ria Arora is a recent graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development at The Chang School of Continuing Education. She is the founder and executive director of South Asian Yard, a not-for-profit organization that amplifies the voices and experiences of second-generation South Asian Canadians. Arora has also worked in a variety of non-profit roles, including in fund development at the Frontline Community Centre, and according to her LinkedIn profile, as a volunteer at a sexual assault support hotline.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Mahboob Mian is an Environmental Consultant with over 20 years of experience in managing oil and gas and petrochemical-related environmental issues. He ran for Ward 23 city councillor in the 2018 municipal election where he placed ninth out of eleven candidates. While information about his current campaign was not found at the time of publication, his priorities during his 2018 campaign included working with law enforcement to address crime, creating more jobs in the community, and “increas[ing] attention on Single Women Problems.” He also said he wanted to create a free parking program at secondary education institutions, alongside working with trustees on education issues.
Yalini Rajakulasingam - Incumbent
Yalini Rajakulasingam is the incumbent TDSB trustee for Scarborough North, holding office since 2018. On her LinkedIn, she shares that she obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in Political Science as well as a Post-Graduate Diploma in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. During her term, she brought forward a motion with Trustee Sriskandarajah on a COVID-19 Recovery Plan, which was subsequently passed unanimously by the Board of Trustees. Rajakulasingam has also been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. She commits to continuing her work addressing gaps in learning caused by the pandemic, student safety, and the engagement of parents and caregivers. She also wants to continue her advocacy for more programming, access for underserved communities, and culturally relevant mental health supports for students.
Grant Xiong is a realtor with Right at Home Realty. According to his website, he was also previously a university teacher. He is interested in supporting and expanding existing specialised programs, and creating new after school programs in areas such as tutoring, sports, art, coding, and occupational skill training. Xiong also wants to ensure more mental health support, air-filtration systems, and an action plan to prevent incidents of violence in order to increase the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.
Sonny Yeung previously ran in the 2018 Municipal elections as a TDSB Trustee candidate where he placed fifth of six, and in the 2016 TDSB by-election for Ward 21 where he placed eighth of twenty. He also ran for the office of TDSB trustee for Ward 22 (Scarborough East) and Ward 17 (Don Valley East) in 2010 and 2014. In a 2018 profile he submitted to Toronto.com, Yeung described himself as a project manager with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Garry Tanuan - Incumbent
Garry Tanuan is the incumbent Trustee for Ward 8, holding office since the 2012 by-election. He also sits on the board of directors for the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association. Tanuan’s TCDSB bio states that he was a consultant and project manager for over 20 years in industries like finance, biotech, clinical research and education, and has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Silliman University. It also notes Tanuan’s involvement as a representative for Cardinal Leger Catholic School with the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education (TAPCE), and as a Ward 8 representative for the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC). In 2013, Tanuan brought forward a motion for the TCDSB to resist the Ontario Accepting Schools Act mandating boards to allow student gay-straight alliance groups and activities. As part of this motion he expressed his concern with it promoting “a positive view of homosexuality.” Tanuan also voted against a motion in 2019 to amend the Code of Conduct to adopt the terms marital status, family status, gender identity, and gender expression, and in 2021, against a motion to proclaim June as Pride month and fly a Pride flag at TCDSB schools.
On his website, Robert Wicik writes he has over 25 years of experience in the electronics industry providing engineering support and contributing to a number of projects. He also shares that he holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering from Ryerson University. Wicik formerly ran for Ward 8 TCDSB trustee in the 2014 municipal election, having placed third out of three. While his platform isn’t detailed, he emphasizes fostering inclusion, respect for all, safety, accountability and transparency. In 2014, Wicik signed an accountability pledge for that year’s election to improve the analysis of the budget regarding repairs of schools, sponsored by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition.
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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