By Neil Armstrong
Pride Contributing Writer
Thirteen candidates of Black and/or Caribbean descent are running in Ontario’s 41st provincial general election on June 12.
The province’s three major political parties were asked to provide the names of candidates fitting the aforementioned criterion.
Seven are from the Ontario Liberal Party, four from the Ontario NDP and two are from the Ontario PC Party.
The Liberal candidates are: Michael Coteau (Don Valley East), Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood), Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough-Rouge River), Granville Anderson (Durham), Esrick Quinton (Oshawa), Marcel Marcellin (London-Fanshawe) and Georgina Thompson (Prince Edward-Hastings).
Running for the Democrats are: Nigel Barriffe (Etobicoke North), Jermaine King (Ajax-Pickering), Che Marville (Oakville) and Hervé Ngamby (Ottawa-Vanier).
Karlene Nation (York West) and Andrew Ffrench (York South-Weston) are representing the Progressive Conservatives on the ballot.
ONTARIO LIBERAL CANDIDATES
Coteau was elected to the legislature in 2011 as the MPP for Don Valley East and was appointed minister of citizenship and immigration in February 2013.
Prior to entering government, he served as a school board trustee for almost eight years.
As a trustee, Coteau worked to make schools more accessible to community groups that run after-school programs for children. He also served as the vice-chair of the Toronto District School Board and helped to bring forward nutritional changes that increased awareness around student hunger and resulted in healthy food programs. In addition, he is a champion of the integration of technology in education.
A lifelong city-builder, Hunter is passionate about unlocking the city’s potential by ensuring fair and inclusive access to employment and prosperity.
As the CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, she worked to solve some of Toronto’s toughest social, economic and environmental challenges. She was also previously the CAO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, vice-president with Goodwill Industries and a regional director at Bell Canada.
Hunter served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of community and social services.
Balkissoon was first elected to the Ontario legislature in a by-election in 2005 and was re-elected in 2011 for the riding of Scarborough-Rouge River.
He has served as the parliamentary assistant to the minister of education, the minister of community and social services, the minister of community safety and correctional services, and to the minister of health and long-term care.
Balkissoon was first elected to Scarborough City Council in 1988. During his 17-year career in municipal politics on Scarborough Council and then the amalgamated City of Toronto, he served on several standing committees.
He and his family have lived in Scarborough-Rouge River for over 30 years.
Anderson is a business owner, school trustee, and community leader who has been living in Clarington for over 25 years.
As the owner of a local mediation firm, he has helped people throughout the community to find solutions to challenges they faced.
Anderson has also served as vice-chair and chair of the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board, vice-president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Courtice Chapter, a coach with the Clarington Boys’ Baseball League, and is a member of Rotary Club of Courtice.
He has been a school board trustee, responsible for balancing the Board’s $180 million dollar budget and initiating programs that led to student success.
Thompson was first elected as a councillor to Thurlow Township Council serving from 1986-1995, followed by Belleville City Council from 2003-2005.
As chair of the South East Local Health Integration Network and president of All-Care Health Services, she ensured that rural families have first-class healthcare.
Thompson has received the Premier’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Science for the College System, the National Harry Jerome Black Business Achievement Award, and the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship.
During her 25 years as the owner of All Care Health Services Limited, she has employed over 700 health care professionals.
Thompson was appointed chair of the South East Local Health Integration Network from 2005-2011 – one of fourteen inaugural chairs in the Province of Ontario.
Sergeant Marcellin is the diversity officer at London Police Service where he has served for 19 years. He has received several awards over the span of his career such as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Media and London Community Black Achievement Award.
Marcellin is currently the co-chair, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police – Diversity Steering Committee and sits on the board of directors for the United Way of Middlesex and London.
He is also a member of the London Diversity and Race Relations Advisory Committee (LDRRAC) and Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE).
Quinton worked in government service for over 20 years in Canada and
overseas. He has extensive experience as a human resources professional in the areas of recruitment and retention, labour relations, human rights investigations, return to work program, health and safety change management.
ONTARIO NDP CANDIDATES
Barriffe ran as a candidate for the Green Party of Canada in Etobicoke North in the 2008 federal general elections.
An elementary schoolteacher in the Toronto District School Board, Barriffe said his decision to run really started when his parents came to Canada from Jamaica, where he was born, in the late 1960s, like many others, to give their children a better life.
He said because of their hard work and sacrifices, he and his siblings have been blessed and it is through his experiences and lens as a teacher that he has seen what families are now going through.
“They’re working really, really hard. They’re doing all of the right things making sure that their children are brought up right,” he said, noting that the majority of the children in Etobicoke North are graduating with bachelor’s degrees, masters of education and some with PhDs.
They told him that they have been doing everything that they are supposed to do but yet they still can’t find a decent job.
Barriffe said people have been telling them to go take a temp agency job just to get their foot in the door but he disagrees with that approach.
“We have an opportunity right now to create good jobs, good careers for our children if we just put in place the appropriate policies and have a long term vision for our community and for Toronto and the province, in general.”
Barriffe described his run for office in the upcoming provincial election as “icing on the cake” to show the community that although he ran in 2008 for the Green Party and lost, he remained in the community to help build it.
Since that time, he has been a board member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations which, he said, helped shape the policies around the carding issue where they were seeing disproportionate numbers of black youth being pulled over the police and carded in a way that was unjust.
He also worked with the Good Jobs For All Coalition which brought together labour and community to try to create good jobs through a pilot project that saw the city put solar panels on flat roofs in the city as a way of using solar power to actually generate income for the city and pay for the investment at the same time.
Barriffe has also been involved in civic engagement workshops through the organizations, Rush The Vote and Educational Attainment West, which have been helping youth to connect to voting and developing a curriculum that is engaging them.
He is concerned about members of the community not voting in elections and thinks it’s important to emphasize the need to become engaged.
“Regardless of whether you are voting NDP or Liberal or Conservative, if we don’t engage in this political process, if we just say ‘you know what, I’m tired of this ‘politricks’ and all these politicians don’t want to listen to me’ then we’re not at the table. If you’re not at the table eating, then you’re being eaten.”
He wants to use the election to engage the community on issues such as public transit in the city, which has one of the lowest subsidies in North America, and the debt of students graduating from colleges and universities.
King is a community leader and champion of quality healthcare. The chief steward at the world-renowned cancer care
facility at Princess Margaret, he works to improve the health and safety of the hospital. King sits on the University Health Network Health and Safety Committee, partnering with staff to ensure a safer working environment.
As a member of Princess Margaret’s Fiscal Advisory Committee, he also assists in budget work and helps the hospital plan for each fiscal year.
King lives in Ajax and enjoys playing basketball and golf. He has been an athlete all his life and in 1993, he set the national record in Jamaica for junior high jump.
Marville is the senior executive director of the Children’s Own Media Museum inspired by Marshall McLuhan.
She is the president of the Oakville NDP Riding Association and is a social entrepreneur and a senior human resources specialist.
Marville has a degree in political science and anti-oppression theory from Glendon College, York University and Professional Certificate in Project Management from the Schulich School of Business.
She grew up in a family of clinicians, teachers and local government leaders. She was very close to her uncle Ovid Jackson, who was the mayor of Owen Sound and a Liberal MP in the Chretien government for eight years. She spent many summers in Owen Sound helping on the campaign trail.
Ngamby is a local leader and longtime resident of Ottawa-Vanier.
An engineer by trade, he is a certified lead auditor and qualified inspector in greenhouse gas emissions.
He pursued graduate studies with a specialty in sustainable development at the University of Chicoutimi, making him the first engineer in North America to graduate in the field.
ONTARIO PC CANDIDATES
As a broadcast journalist with CTV News in Toronto for twenty-one years, Nation worked towards increasing representation of Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds in local and national news programs.
She was the first journalist appointed to the position of diversity producer in a Canadian newsroom.
“There is a lot at stake. Our economy is in shambles after a decade of Liberal mismanagement. They have sent us into a fiscal hole creating a mountain of debt. More than six hundred thousand people are unemployed and businesses continue to leave Ontario in large number,” notes Nation on her LinkedIn profile about the June 12 election.
Nation is a popular motivational speaker and has worked with Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds and continues to help community groups garner attention for their important causes.
Ffrench was born in Toronto and spent his childhood in west-end Toronto. His formative education was through the Toronto Catholic District School Board and then he pursued postsecondary studies at York University.
He holds a BA in political science from York University, and has over a decade of experience in financial services. He currently works as a mortgage agent.
Along with his family, he is active in supporting community organizations such as The Kidney Foundation of Canada, the Jamaican Canadian Association, and the African Canadian Heritage Association.
On Friday, June 6, at the Radisson hotel in downtown Toronto, some of the candidates will be special guest presenters at the 20th anniversary of 1st Fridays, a monthly networking event organized by entrepreneur, Warren Salmon.
Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and PC Leader Tim Hudak will participate in a televised debate at the CBC in Toronto on June 3, nine days before the decisive moment of their political fate.