Toronto mayoral hopeful Mitzie Hunter says she won’t use strong mayor powers, if elected
Published Thursday, March 30, 2023 7:22AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 30, 2023 1:22PM EDT
Ontario Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter, the latest high-profile candidate to announce a run to become Toronto’s next mayor, is vowing to build consensus with city councillors, instead of employing ‘strong mayor’ powers to get things done.
“What’s the point of kind of imposing your will on a council? What comes when it has to be implemented?” Hunter said during a Thursday morning interview with CP24.
“You still have to work with people and I’d like to be able to do that upfront so I will not use the strong mayor power.”
The four-term Scarborough-Guildwood MPP said as Toronto's top official her leadership approach would be to work with council to outline priorities from the get go and build the city together.
Calling herself a “consensus (builder) and a unifier,” Hunter said she respects the role of local councillors who have been elected to represent the needs of their wards throughout the city and feels it’s important for everyone to have a voice and a say.
Hunter, whose campaign team confirmed her run for mayor to CP24 shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday morning, said she wants the job because she loves Toronto and is “committed to steering (it) towards progress and success.”
"I am determined to be a champion for all of Toronto and ensure that the city is moving in the right direction," said Hunter.
"It's time to get Toronto moving forward and to make it a city that works for everyone."
Pointing to municipalities in the United States that haven’t fare so well, she said Toronto cannot afford to “fail as a city” and vowed to work to ensure it remains on track as a accessible and affordable “world class global city, a city that is a magnet for newcomers, for young people who want to live here, work here.”
One essential part of holding that esteemed title is having a “well-run, and managed and maintained” transit system, she said.
Hunter said people need to “be safe,” but also “feel safe,” while riding public transit.
And while Toronto is facing significant budget shortfalls to make notable investments in the system, Hunter said there are affordable measures that can be taken “fairly quickly” to achieve that objective, including having TPS officers on patrol stop around transit stations, pairing transit officers with social workers to directly connect vulnerable people with services and support, and recruiting local safety ambassadors around transit stations to do safety audits, and identify and address safety gaps.
Hunter said she’s also prepared to “put the case squarely” to federal and provincial governments for more money for Toronto in their budgets for investments in infrastructure that Toronto needs.
“We cannot afford to have Toronto as a city, Ontario’s capital city, the economic engine of Canada, fail. Those investments are required,” she said.
Hunter, who recently told CP24 that she was considering and preparing for a run for mayor, but had yet to officially confirm that she would be tossing her hat in the ring, said the upcoming municipal by-election represents a “turning point" for the city.
"We have the choice to either rise to the next level or go off a cliff. I will be the champion that Toronto needs so we can rise to the next level," promised Hunter, whose said her key focus areas as the city's next mayor would be TTC safety, increasing housing availability and affordability, reducing homelessness, and strengthening local democracy by not using the strong mayor powers.
A long-time public servant, Hunter was previously the Chief Administrative Officer of Toronto Community Housing Corporation and head of CivicAction.
In the Kathleen Wynne's cabinet, she served as Minister of Education and Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Associate Minister of Finance.
Hunter said she plans to officially register as a Toronto mayoral candidate on April 3 when nominations open, but must resign from her seat in the Ontario Legislature by May 12 when nominations close, as per municipal election rules.
Her official entry into Toronto mayoral race comes one day after Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford announced his run for the city’s top job.
Bradford, who also joined CP24 Breakfast today to further discuss his priorities as mayor, said he's promising “less talk and more action,” if elected.
“We spend so much time here at the city in endless debate and discussion, deferral and delay, and we don't see enough action moving things forward. It's about time for less talk and more action,” he said Wednesday, adding Toronto’s next mayor is going to have some “very serious conversations” with other levels of government to help close the financial gap the city is now facing due to the pandemic.
Toronto's mayoral byelection will take place on June 26.