just how deep is toronto city council in the pockets of corporate interests? Deep enough to be calling on the province to step in and disallow corporate contributions to municipal candidates, according to Vote Toronto, a volunteer citizens group co-founded by author Susan Swan and Island Airport opponent Bill Freeman. The group, which launches its Web site (www.votetoronto.ca) and findings today, also wants the province to ban the practice of allowing councillors to carry over surplus cash from past campaigns, which the group says gives them a significant advantage over political challengers.
What follows, with some added research of our own, are profiles of the 10 councillors who voted on the side of business interests on 14 key issues tracked by Vote Toronto.
1 Doug Holyday (Etobicoke Centre) Public enemy number one. A self-styled penny-pincher who nevertheless voted against an inquiry into the MFP computer leasing scandal that lost the city millions. Supported huge money-losers like the Union Station leasing deal and Island Airport expansion. Also looked the other way on a motion to rein in cops earning six figures on overtime pay. But there's no cash in Holyday's world for childcare subsidies or to keep school pools open, both measures he voted against.
2 Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) Card-carrying Tory and pal of former Mike Harris whiz kid and chief of staff Guy Giorno. Elected in 94 on a tax cut platform. Describes himself as a "strong believer in the need for greater transparency and accountability to the taxpayer," but voted against the inquiry into MFP. Positions himself as a defender of tenants (his ward is 65 per cent renters) but boasts a donors list that includes some of the nastiest landlords in the biz.
3 Norm Kelly (Scarborough-Agincourt)Three-term councillor is a former Trudeau-era Liberal MP. Holds the distinction of being the only TTC commissioner who doesn't believe in increased funding for public transit. Member of the city's powerful policy and finance committee and an unabashed supporter of the Island Airport expansion, Union Station, Front Street extension - you name it. Believes in privatizing waste, water and public housing. One of the worst voting records on council on the environment as well.
4 Case Ootes (Toronto-Danforth) Don't be fooled by the Mr. Nice Guy demeanour - he's the right wing's go-to guy when the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan. Helped get policing reformer Olivia Chow on the police services board and has voted with the progressives in favour of a pesticide ban but folded like a tent on everything else. Most tellingly, voted against a lobbyist registry and the judicial inquiry into MFP. Talks the eco talk but also opposed extra funding for the TTC, Kyoto protocol targets and bike lanes on Dundas. Supports privatization of the electricity industry - no doubt to make more cash for corporate buddies.
5 Gloria Lindsay Luby (Etobicoke Centre) Former Cooper and Lybrand consultant who boasts third-highest number of corporate donors (121) of any member of council (excluding the mayor). Also one of its biggest money raisers, with more than $92,000 in 2000. Enters this race with $48,447 surplus from last race. Supported lobbyist registry but votes overwhelmingly with the big boys, including opposing increased childcare subsidies. Has been rewarded with a seat on the police services board thanks to a good word from her friend disgraced City Hall lobbyist and backroom boy Jeff Lyons, who's also her biggest single donor.
6 Peter Li Preti (York West) This psychologist represents one of the most ethnically diverse, heavily policed - and poorest - areas of the city, but you'd never know it from his votes against motions to increase childcare subsidies and keep school pools open and his support for a motion to ban the homeless from sleeping in the street. Received the third-lowest total number of votes (5,683) of any councillor in the last runoff. Dead wood.
7 Frances Nunziata (York South-Weston) Cop sucker who's been milking crime fears in her west-end ward for years. Courted by the left for a short time - supported a lobbyist registry and funding for traffic-calming measures - but that was before her erratic voting behaviour took a decidedly hard turn to the right. Cuckoo for target policing - supported banning the homeless from the streets - who once floated the idea of seizing the cars of sex workers' clients. Managed to finagle a seat on the police services board thanks in part to brother John's relationship to lobbyist Jeff Lyons (there's that name again) as well as an endorsement and donation from the cop union in 2000.
8 Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Gets marks for supporting a lobbyist registry, the judicial inquiry into the MFP computer leasing scandal and a pesticide ban. His progressive positions get scarce after that, however, with votes for all major capital projects pushed by backroomers, including Island Airport expansion and the Union Station deal. More than 80 per cent of donations to his 2000 campaign came from businesses, one of the highest percentage of any councillor. Fancies himself an environmentalist but does not support a ban on incineration and voted against increased funding for the TTC. Supports John Tory for mayor.
9 David Soknacki (Scarborough East) Began with such great promise as a budget- and cop-spending reformer, but quickly smelled which way the winds of power were blowing. Voted against the judicial inquiry into MFP. Supported the Union Station deal. Chair of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund but supported Island Airport expansion, not to mention the Front Street extension. Opposed a pesticide ban and funding for the TTC and city bicycle plan .
10 Mike Feldman (York Centre) Total lackey for development interests, from whom he receives a staggering 90 per cent of his donations (second-highest of all councillors). A self-described "major supporter of social housing," but pushed condo developments in his ward that are reducing affordable housing spaces. Also opposed opening armouries for temporary shelter for homeless people. Noticeably absent from the vote on the inquiry into MFP. "I proudly wear the title... of a Lastman loyalist," he announced recently. Nuff said.
Ron Moeser (Scarborough East) magically seems to disappear from the council chamber every time important votes are taken. He's missed six of 14 major votes tracked by Vote Toronto.
Sherene Shaw (Scarborough-Agincourt) voted with the progressives on council only four out of 14 times. Her record of absenteeism/abstentions is second only to Moeser's. A few too many development ties to boot.
Rob Ford (Etobicoke North), pictured left, a conservative loudmouth, nevertheless voted the right way on MFP, increased funding for the TTC and the Union Station deal.
Michael Tziretas (Beaches-East York) was saved from the worst list - but just barely - by his support for the pesticide ban and funding for childcare.
The list above does not include Georgio Mammoliti (York West) pictured right and David Shiner (Willowdale), names that show up on Vote Toronto's list, because they're already acclaimed in their wards. Paul Sutherland (Don Valley East) and Brad Duguid (Scarborough-Centre) are also not included here because they ran in the recent provincial election and no longer sit on council.