By Neil Armstrong
Pride Contributing Writer
With the slogan, “Let’s get moving,” Mitzie Hunter, the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the Scarborough-Guildwood, kicked off her campaign on July 6 with the opening of her office in the Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road area.
On June 27, Margarett Best, who represented the riding since 2007, resigned resulting in Premier Kathleen Wynne subsequently announcing by-elections for August 1 in five political ridings in Ontario.
The other candidates in the by-election for Scarborough-Guildwood are Adam Giambrone, a former Toronto city councillor and TTC chair for the NDP and Ken Kirupa for the Progressive Conservative.
Hunter intends to be a strong voice for her community at Queen’s Park and has garnered the support of many volunteers who went out canvassing on Saturday.
However she still needs foot soldiers to knock on doors and hand out literature and make some phone calls which volunteers can do from their homes.
The CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance who has taken a leave of absence to seek political office has worked on many issues like transportation and jobs for young people.
She said these are issues that are also consistent with the Liberal government and so it felt like a natural step to pursue political office.
Hunter also pointed to work that she has done in the past at Goodwill with people who needed access to employment and people with disabilities, and her work at Toronto Community Housing with affordable housing issues.
“Being able to have the opportunity to represent Scarborough-Guildwood, this really for me feels like coming home. I lived in Scarborough. I went to high school here and the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus, where I was involved in government so this feels to me like the right step at this time in my life,” Hunter said.
The Liberal candidate said she knows Scarborough-Guildwood very well and also worked on the ground there while at Goodwill Industries of Toronto.
At the announcement of her nomination on July 2 at the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough many local Liberals turned out to support Hunter’s goals of creating jobs and making life better for people in Scarborough and throughout Ontario.
Hunter said she has received many encouraging words and support from the community, from leaders and from politicians and the core message is for her to be herself.
Outside of her busy career, she enjoys arts and culture and is a big supporter of events such as the jazz and Luminato festivals. She has been doing garden walks for the last three years and on Sunday participated in the Guildwood Garden Walk.
She also loves spending time with family and friends. Hunter and her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1975. She recently completed her MBA from the Rotman School of Management.
The lifelong city builder said she has travelled to other places in the world but she really loves Toronto and the many communities that come together to form the fabric of this city.
“Mitzie is a very intelligent woman. She has got a lot to offer the people of Scarborough-Guildwood and indeed, the province. I am extremely happy that she has come and joined the Liberal banner. It also tells us that our party can actually attract some really intelligent people like Mitzie and we’re happy to have her,” Lawrence Dawkins, president of the Scarborough-Guildwood Provincial Liberal Association said.
Asked about the importance of Black Canadians being involved in politics, Hunter said having worked on the DiverseCity initiative at CivicAction, they had numbers from the examination of political involvement across various communities and the Black community really needs to see voting as something that is done.
She said young people should see their parents voting and it should be part of “our culture to vote.”
“There are many ways to get involved in politics and in various campaigns. Its part of the Canadian culture, its actually a wonderful way to meet people and to get connected,” she said, noting that she met many young Liberals who are helping with her campaign.
“Mitzie has made a tremendous contribution to CivicAction since becoming CEO in January 2012. Her obvious passion for this region and its people shines through in everything she does. She has also built a team at CivicAction that is ready, willing and capable of continuing to move the organization’s strategic priorities forward during Mitzie’s absence. I’ve known Mitzie for a decade, and while I led a different political party I can say she is just the kind of person we need offering herself for election. I wish Mitzie all the best with her campaign,” CivicAction Chair John Tory said in a statement.
Hunter is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and has served on the boards of TVOntario, George Brown College, and the United Way of Greater Toronto.
She has executive experience as a vice president at Goodwill Industries of Toronto, as the chief administrative officer at Toronto Community Housing and, most recently, as the chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.