Frustrations from Toronto’s business community over drama at City Hall “boiled over” in 2013, the board of trade president said Tuesday, as she urged candidates in this year’s municipal election to demonstrate “higher standards of performance.”
Crucial issues for the city like building transportation, dealing with aging infrastructure, job creation, and closing the gap between rich and poor all took a back seat to “dramatics and personalities,” said Carol Wilding, president of the Toronto Region Board of Trade in a speech Tuesday.
“People are tired of the frustrations. They want to get onto the aspiration, and they want to get onto dealing with the critical issues that matter to the Toronto region.”
In her speech, the launch of a campaign called “Think Twice, Vote Once,” she asked candidates in the 2014 municipal election – as well as a possible Ontario provincial election – to focus on crucial issues for the region, rather than to focus on politics and personalities. “Our political leaders must enable progress, not hinder it,” she said.
And though Ms. Wilding’s remarks took square aim at a number of members’ frustrations, including the scandal surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford – in November, at the height of the crack cocaine scandal, the board of trade asked for Mr. Ford to temporarily step aside – Ms. Wilding said the campaign is “absolutely not” focused on booting Mr. Ford out of office.
“We don’t endorse candidates. We never have. We’re non-partisan,” she said.
Supriya Dwivedi,a spokesperson for mayoral candidate David Soknacki, said that Ms. Wilding’s concerns “are pretty much analogous to our concerns. David is a businessman himself, so we share a lot of the same concerns.”
She said that, though Mr. Soknacki hasn’t yet released his policy platforms, his areas of focus will likely line up with some of the board of trade’s key concerns – especially when it comes to creating jobs and building regional transit.
“There are all things that I think the bulk of Torontonians would agree with. I don’t think this is any sort of right, left, or downtown versus suburb. These are all general concerns that I think the bulk of the city is facing.”