For two decades, Giorgio Mammoliti has been a city councillor in the city’s northwest corner. In all of that time, it’s hard to see what results he’s got for residents in the historically neglected parts of his York West ward, which includes the southwest part of the Jane-Finch corridor, known as Firgrove Park.
The area has consistently suffered from underemployment, a lack of transit and entrenched poverty, but Mr. Mammoliti hasn’t noticeably championed any projects aimed at increasing affordable childcare, housing or youth programs. What he has done is call Jane-Finch residents “cockroaches” in two recent interviews, with the Toronto Sun and The Rebel, a website that traffics in divisive far-right propaganda.
Mr. Mammoliti provided false information about subsidized housing and Jane-Finch that he ought to have known was untrue. For example, he told The Rebel that it’s impossible for the Toronto Community Housing Corp. to evict “drug dealers"; while eviction for non-payment of rent is avoided, eviction for cause, including illegal acts, is a clear part of TCHC policy.
A mass eviction of criminals, he said, would be “like spraying down a building of cockroaches,” a statement that evokes genocide and disparages all 110,000 people living in TCHC. He then contradicted himself by saying that only 1 per cent of residents are a problem, then again by claiming “they’re harbouring, literally, all of these killers.” The problem is as big or small as suits him at the moment, and it never suits him to prioritize (or respect) his constituents who live in TCHC.
This latest incident will come as no surprise to those who have followed Mr. Mammoliti’s career.
It’s been creepy, like in 2011, when he filmed queer women at Toronto’s Dyke March in order to argue against funding Pride, a move that came after once arguing on the floor of the Ontario Legislature against extending benefits to same-sex couples.
It’s been disturbing, like in 2013, when he was alleged to be paying below-market rent for an apartment owned by a company that had millions of dollars of business with the city, including managing TCHC buildings, of all things. He’s had his pay docked for inviting lobbyists to a $500-a-plate fundraiser; took $275,000 in loans from companies he had helped get city approval for their billboards; and was caught up in a bizarre deal that would have seen the Toronto Parking Authority overpay for land in his ward by millions of public dollars that is now under investigation by the OPP.
And it’s been asinine, like when he took his shirt off during a council meeting, tried to get an NHL team in North York, pretended that touring a strip club was part of his job and generally embarrassed the city at every opportunity.
In short, Mr. Mammoliti’s time in politics has been a disgrace.
Mr. Mammoliti’s permanent sideshow hasn’t left much time for actual work. If after two decades in office (almost three, if you count his earlier years at Queen’s Park), he is unable to get his ward some nice parks, as he often moans, then he’s painfully bad at building consensus and working with staff, two essential parts of his job.
Yet he touts his record as a reason to value his opinions on Jane-Finch, even when they differ from those of people who live there. Unlike many of them, he opposes the Finch West LRT, an 11-kilometre light-rail project that could move thousands of people along the woefully transit-poor corridor. He also opposes a community arts hub proposed to be built in conjunction with the LRT project.
“He has no right to speak about Jane-Finch,” said Wanda MacNevin, an area resident of four decades who is an advocate for both the LRT and the arts space. "His area only covers a small part of Jane-Finch, and he has done nothing for Jane-Finch.”
On The Rebel, Mr. Mammoliti suggested tearing down subsidized housing in Jane-Finch entirely, supposedly to stop “little kids in those communities ... growing up angry and killing people.”
His self-declared expertise comes from his time as the head of the city’s affordable housing committee, during which he says he was instrumental in spearheading the continuing redevelopment of Regent Park.
“That’s just a bunch of malarkey,” said Mike Creek, an 18-year Regent Park resident and long-time anti-poverty activist. “I’ve never even seen Giorgio Mammoliti in Regent Park. I never saw Giorgio Mammoliti at any of those meetings.”
Which isn’t surprising, since Mr. Mammoliti has one of council’s worst attendance records: he was absent for about 40 per cent of council votes in 2016 and 2017.
This fall’s election is a chance for the residents of York West to stop paying him for doing nothing, or sometimes even worse.