Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Councillor Norm Kelly and Drake are pictured at a Toronto Raptors game. (Twitter)
Councillor Norm Kelly and Drake are pictured at a Toronto Raptors game. (Twitter)


Having a popular Twitter account doesn’t mean I’m not doing my job Add to ...

“I got enemies, got a lot of enemies.

Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy

Denise Balkissoon has not been happy with me for some time.

It’s my tweeting. It got to her.

Her throwing open the windows and yelling into the wind “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more” moment came in the Saturday, Dec. 19 print and online editions of The Globe and Mail.

As she put it to the assembled crowd of more than a million readers and viewers: “Mr. Kelly is not an entertainer and being cool isn’t his job … a dad’s real job is to take care of us.”

Couldn’t agree more.

But first things first – tweeting is my hobby! Does it take time to tweet successfully? Of course. Does it take time away from my duties as a councillor? No. Hey – according to Toronto Life – I average about seven a day. (I know people who put out that many in an hour!).

As for taking to the twitterverse to ensure the continuation of life in the spotlight after being shunned by Mayor Tory, I have to say that the new mayor suggested several appointments, some of them with important, fancy titles. I declined – ironically – to take a step back from public attention. (It can wear you out…). I simply wanted to have fun.

Did I shrewdly associate myself with Drake to ensure my account’s success? (God, I wish I were that clever!) I had poked fun at him in three or four tweets over a six-month period before I innocently strayed onto the rapper battlefield by advising Meek Mill that he wasn’t welcome in Toronto. That’s when the youthful following took off like a rocket.

Intrigued, I decided to explore the millennial world, especially its affection for hip hop/rap music. Talking with young people and reading up on hip-hop history, I became reasonably conversant with the lifestyle and language of the next generation of leaders and, frankly, I take pride in being accepted by them.

Now on to the “real job” of looking after Torontonians, including our youth.

On social issues? In Scarborough, I was among the first to support Tropicana’s mission in the black community. More recently, in my ward (Scarborough Agincourt): (I) I supported the SLAM youth hub in the TCHC Bay Mills community; (2) worked hard to obtain $4-million to convert Stephen Leacock Arena into a state-of-the art community centre, located conveniently close to the TCHC communities of Bay Mills and 2821 Birchmount Rd.; (3) worked closely with Agincourt Community Services over two decades; (4) facilitated the donation of 3 vehicles by a local Honda dealer for use in supporting local food bank and community outreach programs; (5) for the past 6 years working closely with the YMCA, Scarborough Hospital, the United Way and community leaders in building a 13,936-square-metre community hub in North West Scarborough to serve an exploding recent immigrant population, established aging seniors and people of all ages and backgrounds faced with serious health challenges.

From a city-wide perspective, consider the following: Early in the life of the amalgamated city, as a member of the original TCHC board, I helped shape the policy that revitalized Regent Park and now serves as the model for replacing deteriorating TCHC communities with new, modern, mixed use, healthier development. As the de facto mayor: (1) I reintegrated the LGBTQ community into Toronto’s civic life; (2) obtained primarily for young kids, free leisure swimming in indoor pools, as well as an important expansion of the Swim to Service Program; and (3) held eight economic round tables, including ones dedicated to black business professionals, young entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs. More recently, I enthusiastically voted for two important minority-youth initiatives: the expansion of the PAYE policy in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and the restoration of funding for youth employment services.

On climate change (this always comes up), voting trumps rhetoric. I understand that the climate is changing and a review of committee and council decisions will reveal a voting record identical to that of the most ardent environmentalists among my colleagues.

In general, politicians try to blend wealth creation and wealth redistribution. Given the fierce international competition between urban regions that lies ahead of us in the 21st century, I’ve significantly involved myself in issues that create opportunities for new jobs or protect the ones we already have: (1) the revitalization of the island airport two decades ago and its modernization today; (2) the retention of the Gardiner in a hybrid form; (3) the reduction of the business tax rate to a competitive level with the 905 municipalities; and (4) the creation of a modern transit system –underpinned by a subway network – that serves all the regions of the city. These are controversial issues but must be addressed.

In sum, I hope that a fair-minded observer who had taken the time to research my record would have concluded that, not only do I understand my “real” job of taking care of people, but that I’ve done that and, on balance, have done it well. (At least 85 per cent of my constituents arrived at that conclusion in the 2014 election.)

Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeToronto

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular