Monday, 28 December 2009

Who will succeed Kyle Rae?

Longtime Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae announced earlier this month that he will not be running for re-election in 2010. Rae was originally elected in 1991 after beating Adonica Huggins Sherona Hall for the NDP nomination in what is now Toronto Centre Ward 27. Rae filled an opening created by then city councillor Jack Layton's decision to run for mayor. Rae left the NDP in 1993 1994 to protest the Bob Rae government's decision to not whip his caucus to vote for same-sex benefits and allow a free vote instead - which failed due to several NDP MPPs voting with the Opposition. Since then, he's essentially been a Liberal in all but name supporting Liberal candidates such as George Smitherman, Bill Graham and, ironically, Bob Rae. Kyle has also been a general disappointment by supporting the closure of homeless shelters in his ward, backing policing against homeless people sleeping in parks, supporting the creation of Dundas Square as a privatized, commercial playground rather than a genuine public square and holding swank fundraising parties at College Park's exclusive Eaton Auditorium.

Despite his background as Executive Director of the 519 Community Centre in the 1980s, Rae has been, in practice, a city councillor for Rosedale and downtown condos rather than the poorer tenants of his ward.

The NDP has largely withdrawn from being an organized entity in municipal politics and will not be holding a meeting to nominate an NDP candidate in Ward 27.

So far, four individuals have emerged as likely candidates in next year's contest;

*Helen Kennedy is a former East York councillor and was subsequently Olivia Chow's longtime executive assistant when she was city councillor in Ward 20 (Trinity Spadina). When Chow moved to federal politics, Kennedy won a bitter contest against Tam Goosen for the NDP nomination to succeed Chow in the 2006 municipal election and went on to lose an equally bitter contest against Adam Vaughan. She is now executive director of Egale Canada, a national GLBT rights organization.
*El-Farouk Khaki, a lawyer, human rights activist, 2009 Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade and past NDP candidate in Toronto Centre, says his candidacy is not likely but that he's not closed the door to the possibility.
*Chris Phibbs is a senior advisor to David Miller and was executive assistant to Kyle Rae from 1992 to 2003 when she ran and lost as a candidate in Riverdale in the 2003 municipal election against NDPer Paula Fletcher. She has reportedly ruled herself out of the race.
*Enza "Supermodel" Anderson is a transgendered activist and media personality who ran for mayor in 2000 as a novelty candidate and came in third with 13,000 votes. She ran against Rae in 2003 and won 15% of the vote. She was grand marshall of the 2008 Pride Parade.
*Susan Gapka is also a transgendered activist and a representative of the Ontario NDP's LGBT caucus on the party's provincial executive. She ran against Rae in 2006 winning 4.8% of the vote.
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