Photo above: John Tory (centre) engulfed by enthusiastic African-Canadian supporters, including Gwyneth Chapman, in beige pantsuit, and to Tory’s right, (L-R) Mary Anne Chambers, Bernice Carnegie, Bev Salmon, Pauline Christian and Chris Chambers.
By Lincoln Depradine
Pride Contributing Writer
TORONTO, Ontario – Gwyneth Chapman, one of the more visible faces in John Tory’s 10-month-long municipal election campaign that ended Monday, is confident that he will deliver as Mayor of Toronto.
“He will be working with the other levels of governments to uplift our communities and none of our communities will be left behind. People are not alone anymore and they will not be ignored. Help is underway,’’ said Chapman, a community organizer and president of the Black Caucus.
Tory, 60, won 40 percent of the votes in an election with a record turnout.
Tory, who will take over on December 1, will be Toronto’s 65th mayor. He’ll preside over a 45-member council that includes former mayor Rob Ford.
Ford, despite his inability to campaign because of illness, was elected to his former Etobicoke North council seat.
Tory says he looks forward to working with Ford in a “productive manner on the city council’’.
In his victory speech Monday evening, Tory reiterated his campaign promise to unite and build Toronto.
“We are going to build a strong, inclusive city of opportunity, from Etobicoke to Scarborough; and from North York right to the Waterfront. That is what we’re going to do to build one Toronto,’’ he said. “As your new mayor, I will work with the council that the people of Toronto elected tonight, in moving Toronto not left, not right, but forward.’’
Tory said he has listened to voters and has heard their message.
“Voters want their elected officials to get down to working on the priorities that matter most to them: better transit; more jobs; an end to the gridlock that is choking our streets. And the electorate has spoken on one other issue – Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralyzed city hall the last few years,’’ the mayor-elect said.
“We will stop neglecting and leaving citizens behind in our city’s most isolated neighbourhoods. We will tackle our unacceptable youth unemployment rate.’’
As an African-Canadian woman, said Chapman, she is “extremely happy’’ at Tory’s mayoral victory.
“We now have a mayor who is going to work to bring people together in moving Toronto forward. He is someone who has demonstrated a long history of making himself available to help the Black community,’’ Chapman told Pride News Magazine.
Tory’s victory also has been welcomed by many others in the African-Canadian community, including Rosemary Sadlier and businessman Trevor David.
“I congratulate John Tory on being mayor-elect of the City of Toronto and look forward to his actions – with Council – in addressing the pressing issues of transit, employment, housing and diversity,’’ said Sadlier, president of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS).
“Initiated by the OBHS, the City of Toronto was the first level of government to proclaim February as Black History Month in 1979. Perhaps, there are other cultural items of value and significance to the African Diasporic communities that will be supported with John Tory at the helm of Toronto.’’
David, executive director of the AfriCana Village & Museum, is also excited about a Tory-led City of Toronto.
“For the past 20 years I have seen John Tory out and about in the Black community, reaching out and engaging in conversations; to address issues you have to have a conversation. For that reason I feel John Tory’s heart is in the right place,’’ David said.
“He will be a true friend of our community as opposed to the nightmare situation we had with the Fords. John knows we need AfriCana Village & Museum at the Waterfront to bring cultural and economic development to our community. I hope he will work with the real visionaries and doers in the Black community to economically empower our community.’’
The Toronto mayoral contest was the most closely watched race in the polling in which hundreds of other candidates – including some from the Black and Caribbean community – were also seeking elected office as councillors and school board trustees across the province.
In Toronto, Michael Thompson was re-elected to city council. And, 32-year-old Tiffany Ford is one of nearly a dozen new trustees on the Toronto District School Board.
In other parts of the province, Trinidad-born Kevin Ashe was elected an Ajax councillor and African-Canadian, Patrice Barnes, will be making her debut as a Durham District School Board trustee.