On September 20, The Pointer hosted a mayoral debate in partnership with Sheridan College for all candidates.
The Pointer’s debate breakdown, how each mayoral candidate performed
Photos by Joel Wittnebel

The Pointer’s debate breakdown, how each mayoral candidate performed


Debates are tricky things to figure out. Winners and losers can get mixed up by the mind’s eye.

For those Brampton voters who already know who they will pick to lead the city, after October’s municipal election, The Pointer’s take might serve to harden your position. To others not so sure about which mayoral candidate to choose, we hope the following breakdown of the candidate performances during The Pointer’s recent debate in partnership with Sheridan College, helps you at the ballot box.

The candidates are listed in order, from the strongest performance to the weakest, according to The Pointer’s subjective breakdown.

Patrick Brown

A clear front-runner, behind Jeffrey, in the race to become Brampton’s next mayor, supported by 33 percent of eligible voters in The Pointer’s commissioned-poll, conducted late August by Forum Research (Jeffrey had 41 percent support), the former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party dispelled many concerns about his knowledge of Brampton and addressed questions about his past during the lengthy all-candidates debate Thursday evening.

He faltered slightly when questioned about policing policies (the mayor gets a seat on the Police Services Board, which oversees the force) and did not offer details on some parts of his vision for Brampton’s future, but Brown, from the response by audience members and The Pointer’s subjective breakdown, was the winner of the debate.

In his brief opening salvo, Brown tugged at heartstrings, professing his love for Brampton, describing his family’s roots in the city dating back 40 years, and countering Jeffrey’s narrative that he’s an opportunistic outsider by pointing out he and his fiancée (whom he plans to marry this fall, as he was happy to share) own a home near Gage Park where they hope to grow old together.

He then turned to the essence of his run for the city’s top seat, which he says is fuelled by a desire to “see Brampton back on track.” He pointed to Brampton’s high property taxes and lack of employment opportunities as contributors to many ills facing the city.

“You look at the GO Train every morning, people are jam-packed leaving the city. You look at the 410 (highway), it’s a parking lot,” he said.

Brown’s numbers were slightly skewed. He said 65 percent of the population leaves Brampton for work each day. According to numbers from Statistics Canada, 279,000 people commute daily, which amounts to only about 47 percent of the population in 2016: 593,638.

He offered insights into his plans for reducing crime, a topic that is high on voters’ minds after a summer of increasing violence. He detailed investments he would initiate to keep kids off the street. In one of many references throughout the debate to Hazel McCallion, the popular former mayor of Mississauga, he said he’d take a page from her playbook, with a strategy to aggressively court big businesses to the city, as part of a broader economic development plan. He offered no details of such a strategy or plan, nor did he explain how he would attract companies here, for example, by using tax incentives, land conveyance or other common practices municipalities use to draw major employers.

But his optimism about aggressively marketing Brampton around the world delighted the crowd, who roared and applauded loudly as Brown returned to his seat.

Crime

Crime is a topic candidates should have been well prepared for, considering the winner of the race will have a huge role to play in setting the agenda for public safety, as a member of the police board, which oversees policy and procedural practices for the force, and through their role on regional council, which sets the police budget.

Panelist Audrey Campbell, active in the city on public safety initiatives, asked questions probing candidates’ knowledge of policing issues in Brampton as well as the mayor’s role on the police board. She asked them to detail their approach to policing and public safety, if elected. None of the candidates displayed a deep level of knowledge about this role they would have to play, if successful on October 22.

It was not Brown’s strongest topic of the night, but he showed some knowledge of the issues and did not simply restate troubling crime numbers that have made 2018 one of the most violent years in the city’s history.

Instead, Brown took the opportunity to plug his community safety plan, which he presented on the campaign trail a couple of weeks ago, and his ongoing work with a task force he assembled to prepare him on the issue if he gets elected.

The solution of more officers and more resources has been commonly mentioned during the campaign by most candidates. Brown did not explain how such extra resources, if obtained, would be specifically used to budget for modern, effective policing strategies. Nor did he explain how extra officers would be deployed to ensure extra manpower is used to address investigatory needs, intelligence gathering or community policing initiatives. Specific technology, such as body cameras, were not mentioned, as ways to create community trust. He did not address the high rate of misconduct within the Peel police force.

Brown did talk about directing resources at the root causes of crime, particularly those associated with poverty. He also mentioned the need for extra funding to address drug-impaired driving and other consequences of legalizing cannabis, which he said will become a significant policing concern after October when the new federal legislation takes effect.

Brown distinguished himself from other candidates by tying the need for affordable housing and other low-income issues into the discussion on crime.

He floundered, however, when answering questions related to his intentions for serving on the police services board.  

Asked about street checks, better known as “carding” – a tactic strongly supported by Chief Jennifer Evans but denounced by civil rights activists as a racially discriminatory practice and curtailed by provincial guidelines – Brown said he was opposed to the way it had been practised in Peel Region. But he was vague on how he would address the issue at the police board, should Evans continue to press for a return to the old way of doing things.

“Going forward, police are going to have to use investigative techniques that keep our communities safe that aren’t racially based, and I know we can work with police to find the resources to do that,” Brown said, offering no further details.

Brown was asked what qualities he would look for in a new chief (Evans’ current two-year contract will expire early in the next council term) but was not prepared. He mentioned leadership and said it would depend on the candidates for the job. When pressed on the qualities he would specifically seek out, the only thing he mentioned was someone familiar with modern policing techniques.

Brown was pressed twice to answer questions pertaining to the board and his vision for ensuring it stays up-to-date and knowledgeable. Instead, Brown took his allotted time to plug his vague community safety plan again, and to defend the police force.

“I want to say, we want to improve policing in the city, but I’m thankful for the effort and sacrifice that’s put in,” he said.

Despite ample public information about problems within the force and recent battles between the board and Evans, he stayed away from the topics, avoiding suggestions to him that improvements are needed to address misconduct issues, investigative failures, trust-destroying carding practices and other controversies in recent years.

Brampton’s Future

Brampton is set to see significant growth over the next four years, and whoever is in the mayor’s chair will play a critical role in directing how the city plans for all the newcomers. The Pointer debate included several questions about planning for the city’s future.

The current imbalance between residential and private-sector property tax revenues in Brampton means that most of the tax burden, as much as 79 percent, falls on residential homeowners.

Explaining what he would do to rebalance the scale, Brown received one of his loudest responses of the night for a spirited answer to the growing problem in a city where row after row of new subdivisions provide evidence of poor planning, driven by demand for family housing.

 “The biggest hole we have right now is industry, and so a priority for me is to finally end that slide, to aggressively go after economic development, just like Hazel McCallion did when she made those cold calls and she pitched investment,” he said, adding that it will be a top priority for him if elected.

Brown supported his call for economic development with numbers from Brampton’s recently completed 2040 Vision plan, which outlines potential priorities and development for the city in the years ahead. While initially vague on the details of the plan in answering an early question in the debate, Brown later exhibited his understanding of the plan, its goals, and the need to focus on a clear path forward.

“If I’m mayor, you’re going to have a partner to make sure we can actually realize that vision,” he said.

Brown provided knowledgeable answers to questions surrounding Brampton’s future, but in areas where he seemed less sure of his own direction, he turned to placing blame at the feet of incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey.

His answers were vague on issues such as attracting post-secondary educational opportunities to the city and he dodged altogether a question about forcing the development lobby out of city hall.

Only when pressed did Brown acknowledge that, while provincial rules no longer allow candidates to take corporate donations, this is not a complete stop-gap against corporate influence. Brown provided no ideas for how he would prevent developers from influencing decisions inside city hall that should be made with smart growth in mind.

Doug Ford

Brown was forced to address one of the elephants in the debate room: the first being that it seems unlikely he and Premier Doug Ford would have a constructive relationship, should Brown be elected.

After stepping down as leader of the Ontario PCs in January, Brown was later booted from the PC caucus. When he initially tried to run for regional chair in Peel, as the first elected person in that post, Ford removed the vote for the regional chair position.

Some are concerned that animosity with Ford could affect Brampton’s future — a concern Brown did not completely dispel.

He stated the obvious: that he was willing to work with anyone of any political stripe, two more times he invoked McCallion, and then tried to turn the question around on Jeffrey, pointing out that she was “best friends” with former premier Kathleen Wynne, which he said did next to nothing for the city, as the incumbent mayor accepted scraps from her former Liberal masters, while other cities prospered.

Trust

Ahead of the Sept. 20 debate, The Pointer released a pair of questions on the theme of trust, one each for Brown and Jeffrey, the two clear front-running candidates.

For Brown, the question related to the ongoing Hamilton police investigation into a controversial candidate nomination in one of Hamilton’s ridings. Published emails show Brown tried to direct senior party staff to “get me the result I want” ahead of the nomination.

Brown defended his wording in the email, explaining that the rush of candidates seeking nominations with the PCs at the time was overwhelming. He said that with the PCs holding a 20-point lead ahead of the election, “everyone and their brother” wanted to run.

“It caused people to go to great lengths to try to win nominations,” he said. “So when I say to party officials ‘get me the result I want,’ it’s no shenanigans, no cheating, no one breaking the rules. And I was so frustrated by the fact that people were cutting corners that I became the first leader in Ontario politics to bring in third-party oversight.”

The Pointer reached out to Hamilton police Wednesday, who said the probe into the nomination is still ongoing. Brown said, during the debate, the police have had no need to speak with him.

“I was told by police that they had no interest in an interview or any feedback from me, but I hope that if there was any wrongdoing that those who committed wrongdoing are held accountable.”

Brown was also given the chance to address his departure from the PCs and the allegations of sexual misconduct revealed in a CTV news report. Brown has denied the allegations and is suing CTV for its story on the subject, seeking $8 million.

“I wouldn’t wish false allegations on my worst enemy. It is gutting, it’s horrifying. When that happened, I can’t tell you the pain it caused my family and myself,” he said, adding that it was the people of Brampton who encouraged him to stand up for himself.

“I got that response around Ontario, and that’s why I got the courage. You get knocked down, you get back up, and as those stories unraveled, I have to say the decency of people is something that gives you the strength to continue your love for public service.”

Overall Performance

Other than questions on the policing file, Brown displayed strong knowledge about most of the city’s pressing issues. On some matters vague responses were overcome by his energy and enthusiasm, while he generally outlined enough specifics to appear credible, even on complex topics.

Brown criticized Jeffrey throughout the time he had the floor, but it did not come off as excessive, usually sprinkled between his own plans for moving the city forward. He focussed far more on his own vision, strategies and solutions for the city’s most pressing needs, rather on negative remarks against other candidates or other levels of government.

Wesley Jackson

A real-estate attorney by trade, and a criminal defence lawyer before that, Wesley Jackson demonstrated his points thoughtfully and articulately, though he sometimes had to be cut off by the moderator because of his tendency to go over his alotted time to speak.

He began his opening remarks with a quote from American journalist Herb Caen. “‘A city is not gauged by its length and its width, but by the broadness of its vision at the height of its dream.’ Now I didn’t want to screw up that quote because I like it very much, because for a long time, we’ve been in a fever dream and it is time to dream bigger and better in the City of Brampton,” Jackson said.

Crime

Asked about the issue of “street checks” by Peel Regional Police, he supported his answers with statistics that suggest the practice of “carding,” as it’s called colloquially, has the potential to marginalize minority communities and is ineffective as an investigative tool.

He didn’t get into specifics about which communities might be targeted, but Peel police data  show that 25 percent of those carded in the region before the practice was curtailed by provincial guidelines were black, though only 10 percent of the population was black. Between 2009 and 2014, black residents were three times more likely to be stopped for random checks to collect personal information, compared to whites.

Jackson did not offer evidence to support his assertion that carding is not an effective policing tool. In 2016, when the issue was debated between Police Chief Jennifer Evans and the Police Services Board that oversees the force, she could only come up with six cases over more than 35 years that were solved with the help of carding. Other forces around Ontario have publicly stated that carding is not an effective policing tool and can distract from more useful investigative practices.

Jackson told prospective voters that he understands why police forces and some officers might not understand the role bias can play in carding, because, generally, people are not aware of their biases. He offered an example to his point, advocating for police to adopt body-camera technology to help with self-awareness, an approach that has been piloted by the Toronto Police Service.

“Are you (the police) prepared...to wear a body camera? Suddenly they're not so interested in continuing the conversation. So it's very interesting to me that they want this powerful tool (street checks) because they know they can use it, but they're also not willing to accept a powerful check against that power,” Jackson said. Jackson decried the lack of police presence in neighbourhoods and said he wants to more tightly define the role of officers. “People I speak to in Heart Lake tell me there's a noticeable increase in crime in Heart Lake ever since they shut down the Loafer’s Lake community station. … Out in Alberta they have a Peace Officer Act ... They are given a separate jurisdiction when they take over things like traffic duty. Why are $100,000-a-year officers sitting behind a guy doing road work with his lights on? That is not an effective deployment of officers.”  

Trust

Candidates were asked a question on trust, specifically what they thought about Jeffrey’s misleading statements about the provincially funded Main Street Light Rail Transit—she erroneously said during contentious back-and-forth on the LRT in 2015 that the Main St. route was a prerequisite for a university in Brampton—Jackson delivered a backhanded defence of Jeffrey.

“You can believe what you're saying and still be wrong. I just want to say I don't think she lied to the city, albeit I do think she was wrong,” he said.

Brampton’s Future

Brampton possesses particularly limited choice of housing stock for potential buyers. The lack of high-density, multi-storey and affordable apartment buildings has meant that residents are resorting to cramming multiple families into homes meant for one, thereby contributing to urban sprawl while stretching city services thin because many residents in such units do not pay property taxes, but they do use municipal infrastructure.

Real-estate agent Sukhjot Naroo, one of the panel members who posed questions during the debate, asked each candidate what they would do about Brampton’s real-estate-developer lobby, which, as he put it, “is taking Brampton in the wrong direction.”

Jackson responded with a lengthy statement touching on his perceptions about what homebuyers want, the demand that creates, and what a mayor needs to do to create disincentives to glutting the market with a certain type of housing unit.

“We need to change the economics. We need to make it more profitable to build higher density housing types. We need to do that along transit corridors. We need to do that on land that can sustain affordable housing.”

To address the problem of hospital bed shortages, Jackson proposed unlocking city-owned land value to help fund a new full-service hospital. “The largest landholder in Brampton is the City of Brampton. The city owns more land than the next top five landowners combined,” Jackson said, adding that the value of this land is $1.6 billion.

The Pointer could not verify his comments or the figure. It’s unclear if such land, or some of it, is part of the city’s stock for green space.

Jackson appeared less knowledgeable when panel member Dave Kapil asked the candidates how they’d fix Brampton’s lopsided tax revenue ratio (a commonly expressed ideal ratio to benefit a city’s finances by capitalizing on higher private-sector tax rates, while not spending excessively on expensive infrastructure needed to support land-consuming residential development, is to collect 60 percent of the property tax revenue from homeowners and 40 percent from corporate and other sources).

Brampton’s ratio, over the past four years, draws between 77 and 79 percent of its property tax revenue from homeowners.

Jackson did not directly address the main question about the poor tax ratio and focused on how to rehabilitate Brampton’s reputation as a high-tax city by getting proper information out to the public.

Overall Performance

Jackson rarely criticized other candidates and mostly addressed issues head-on, in a civil way, though he did spare a moment to criticize fellow candidate Patrick Brown’s repeated invoking of former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion’s name as an example of how to run a city. He spent the vast majority of his debate time outlining solutions to problems and his vision, for specific plans, to move the city forward.

John Sprovieri

Anyone but Linda Jeffrey.

That could be a potential campaign slogan for Sprovieri, who took several opportunities within his answers and even his opening statement to slam the incumbent mayor, who was absent from the debate due to illness. When he wasn’t bashing Jeffrey, the 30-year council veteran generally offered factual answers, but many that were off the mark or didn’t get to the root of the question posed.

While strong on ideas for Brampton’s future, Sprovieri offered few ideas about the police service board and crime in Brampton, and little in the way of assurance that, despite changes to provincial legislation, development interests would not continue to press their influence inside city hall.

Poor leadership. According to Sprovieri, this was his main reason for stepping out of his councillor role after 30 years and into the race to become mayor.

In a brief opening statement, he sped through an introduction, as many in the community are already familiar with the longtime councillor. He went straight to attacking Jeffrey and past mayors.

“The last three were not very good leaders,” he said, adding that the city achieved nothing in the last term with a dysfunctional council that could not reach consensus on key issues. It cast a shadow over the city that has scared away business, he said.

“We have a bad image out there in the business community,” he said, pointing to the $28.5 million lawsuit against the city filed by Inzola Group over the city hall expansion project.

Sprovieri noted that he had been planning on retiring at the end of this term, before things started to go south.

“My conscience wouldn’t allow me to retire,” he said. “I feel like I owe Brampton.”

Crime  

As a councillor, Sprovieri is aware of the concern around increasing violent crime in Brampton. However, when asked about crime and safety, he balked on several occasions.

The councillor received mumbles and silence from the audience after his responses on the issue of carding. He offered mixed opinions and a confused understanding of the root issue.

“I do not support outright carding … . I believe that there’s better way,” he said initially, but then added: “Police need the proper tools; they should be able to investigate suspicious people that are coming from out of town, and they may have a licence plate number and they should be able to stop and check them out.”

One of the harshest criticisms of how carding was carried out in Peel until it was curtailed by the province was its arbitrary nature. Statistics show it led to a disproportionate number of black individuals being stopped by officers and asked to give information in a non-investigative encounter.

Sprovieri’s comments made it unclear where he really stands on the issue.

He also offered little suggestion of how he’d deal effectively with the mayor’s position on the police services board, hinting that he would more or less play a hands-off role. He noted that he wouldn’t be one to tell police officers how to do their jobs, even though the question posed was about the candidates’ willingness to stand up for Brampton citizens on a police board that is empowered to help protect citizens through its oversight of the force it is supposed to hold accountable.

Sprovieri did, however, offer strong thoughts about crime reduction, which he noted should include doing more for youth to ensure they “follow the right path.” He was also supportive of trying to encourage more youth to join the police force and diversifying it, so that its officers reflect the city.

“I think it’s really beneficial to have people of the same ethnic background patrolling communities, [that] is going to be really key,” he said.

Brampton’s Future

“You don’t build Rome in one day,” Sprovieri said.

It was the follow-up to one of his strongest points surrounding Brampton’s future, as Sprovieri took the chance to highlight some of his knowledge gained after decades on council.

When asked about supporting future development in the city and the Brampton 2040 Vision, the councillor noted that the first step to achieving the plan would be to create the infrastructure, an LRT in particular, that will support the ambitious goals laid out in the document.

“That will be the kickoff to make it happen,” he said, referring to a future LRT.

Sprovieri was also one of the few candidates to provide concrete solutions to attract more business to the city. The need to do so is clear, as an outsized portion of the tax burden currently falls on Brampton homeowners due to the lack of business and industry in the city.

Focusing on development charges (builders pay such fees to cover municipal costs for certain infrastructure that has to support new development) Sprovieri said he would lower the cost of starting a business in Brampton and make the city more attractive to companies and industry sectors.

Sprovieri cast doubt on whether the Brampton 2040 plan could actually be completed, but did not detail why he has such misgivings.

He also attempted to defend developers when asked about controlling the developer lobby that has been a powerful influence inside city hall.

“I’m not defending the developers,” he began, adding “they provide a product that people need.”

He offered no ideas for curtailing developer influence, which has encouraged sprawl rather than the construction of multi-storey buildings and other forms of intensification.

Due to recent provincial legislation, corporate donations are no longer allowed in municipal and provincial elections.

Overall Performance

Sprovieri faltered when asked about solutions for creating a unified council, simply stating that it comes down to respect. He once again took the chance to bash Jeffrey.

“Most people have to be respected by the mayor, because we’re listening to the people’s views here,” he said. “That’s the problem with Linda Jeffrey. She didn’t have the respect that was needed to respect each member of council and their views, and that’s poor leadership in my book.”

That was his theme during the debate. Instead of articulating a vision and tangible solutions to problems, Sprovieri focussed on criticizing others, usually Jeffrey. He displayed little knowledge of policing and the role of the police board. On other issues he spoke generally about the nature of the problems facing the city, then reverted to criticism, without offering many specific ideas or solutions.


Vinod Mahesan

Of the three newcomers to Brampton politics, management consultant Vinod Mahesan was the only one to attack fellow candidates in his opening remarks. His prime target was Brown, former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

Mahesan’s comments about Brown were subtle but pointed. He accused Brown of being an opportunist.

“What Brampton needs is neither divisive or dysfunctional leadership vacuums, nor does it need fly-by-night operators trying to resurrect their particular political careers,” Mahesan said as Brown watched from behind him.

That was not Mahesan’s only attack on Brown. Later in the debate, he accused Brown of being loyal to his former colleagues in the Ontario PC party.

Brown rebutted, “The reality is. I still talk to many of my colleagues both in Ottawa and provincially, and frankly this is about Brampton and it's not about pleasing any party.”

Mahesan was often appreciated by the crowd, cracking jokes to make his mostly-vague points easier to digest. Other times, he strayed into territory that had little to do with the question asked, so his views on key issues remained unclear.

Crime

Asked for his views on street checks, he began disjointedly by describing a highway scenario, though he finished with a more definitive answer, calling into question why police would use carding to investigate suspicious behaviour. Carding is not supposed to be used in an immediate investigative situation, it is a data-collection practice to potentially aid future investigations.  

“So what we need to do as a society, as a community together, being very diverse, is figure out: What is the definition of ‘suspicion’?” Mahesan said.

According to the Irwin Law Canadian Online Dictionary, the concept of reasonable suspicion is firmly established as “a standard authorizing some police investigative techniques, such as an investigative detention. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than reasonable belief, but must be more than a mere hunch and must exist both subjectively and objectively.” Carding encounters, explicitly, do not involve a detention. People have the right to walk away freely when engaged by police in a carding stop.

One compelling point brought up by Mahesan, in relation to a question about resourcing police to help them do their jobs, involved a phenomenon growing informally within the neighbourhoods of Brampton and other cities. “One of the suggestions which I am working on is something called a digital neighbourhood watch. … This is something where we can track and follow the police actually in the right location, based on immediate feedback.”

A digital neighbourhood is a loose network of home security systems and cameras that help residents curb crime by sharing information with each other and the police using available technology.

Brampton’s Future

On the question of support for Brampton’s 2040 Vision plan—a sweeping proposal to redevelop Brampton’s downtown area—Mahesan called the initiative grandiose and said the generation waiting for 2040 to arrive will be gone.

“Let's have it be a 2020 vision. Let's have a 2022 vision. Let’s have a 2025 vision. What is this 2040? ... We want something to happen right now,” he said.

He did not clarify whether he was advocating for a phased plan with set deadlines or how he would achieve a revised timetable for completion of the vision.

He did, however, offer ideas about the issue of hospital overcrowding. His answer was to provide smaller short-term remedies to relieve pressure on the hospital and staff. “Do you know how much time it takes to build another big hospital? What we need to do is look at the options and work with the province to build multiple smaller hospitals, so we can at least address the concerns of right now, and then look at how we can scale up.”

Overall Performance

Mahesan seldom addressed the main focus of questions, often responding in tangents, using vague references and displayed little knowledge of specific city policies. He did not offer concrete solutions to address many of the city’s most pressing problems. He did not offer a specific economic vision, nor did he outline a budget plan with detailed funding approaches to meet the city’s needs.

He criticized Brown while answering a few of the questions and to a lesser extent John Sprovieri and Bal Gosal. He also defended Jeffrey, without directly referring to her, when she was criticized by those three candidates.

Mansoor Ameersulthan

Of the political rookies, Brampton businessman Mansoor Ameersulthan spoke the least. Many of his comments ran well short of the time allotted. His answers were rarely ad libbed, and most were read off a sheet of paper containing pre-prepared statements about major topics. HIs comments demonstrated a grasp of key issues, but few solutions or insights into his vision for Brampton.

Crime

Ameersulthan did not address carding head on, even though a question was posed asking candidates if they support Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans’ assertion that carding helps prevent crime. He instead offered ideas about community initiatives to help youth, saying that he would bring “more sports and recreation, especially for our youth, [so] they can be more engaged,” repeating lines from his opening statement.

Brampton’s Future

“If I get elected, I will reduce $50,000 from my mayor’s salary, and every year I will put it towards youth leadership opportunities and sports as well as researchers and youth scholarships … . I believe that we can create a new LRT without affecting the city’s heritage,” he said during his opening remarks. Responding to complaints about high property taxes, he pledged to place a freeze on them, but offered no explanation for how to pay for increasing costs, without also increasing property taxes.

In 2015, former Ontario Auditor Jim McCarter was brought in at Jeffrey’s urging to analyze Brampton’s financial situation. He reported that reserve funds were dwindling and that future sharp property tax increases would be a likely scenario if high municipal labour costs were not addressed and because of needed investment in ageing infrastructure.

On the question of the 2040 Vision, he spoke for roughly 20 seconds, saying he supports the vision, but “there are some changes we need because the population is rapidly increasing and we need some changes to realize that vision.”

He decried the lack of higher-education facilities in Brampton and advocated for a university, pointing out that, “Many students in Brampton are going to University of Toronto, York University, and they’re going to Humber College. Sheridan College is not enough.”

Brampton has been awarded a new campus by the province, in partnership with Ryerson University and Sheridan College. It is unclear how all of the funding for the new campus will be obtained or exactly when it will open. A location next to the downtown GO Train station has been selected.

Asked about Brampton’s lopsided tax revenue formula, Ameersulthan said it’s important to bring more businesses and investment into the city. “Subsidies can be given by the city … We can also have the university here, and that will help make the money.”

Overall Performance

Ameersulthan provided little detail for solving specific problems in the city. He did not outline a specific economic vision for the future. He did not express any background or detail of city policies or objectives related to key issues facing Brampton. He rarely criticized other candidates, primarily sticking to a broad, scripted, goal of addressing major issues, without offering many specifics or funding strategies to achieve his stated goals for the city.

Bal Gosal

As a former federal politician, Gosal was viewed as a potential front-runner in the Brampton mayoral race. However, his performance during The Pointer’s debate was tired, unemotional, and barely contained even a skeleton of ideas to help solve some of Brampton’s biggest issues.

Gosal’s opening statement highlighted a need for a fresh start. The former Conservative MP and minister for sport said so no less than three times in his brief introduction.

“Brampton can do better. Brampton needs a fresh start. For too long we’ve seen our taxes go up every year,” he said. “I’m running for mayor because I love Brampton.”

He pledged to cut red tape at city hall, working with business owners to attract investment, while creating jobs in Brampton, stating 60 percent of the population leave Brampton for work. (Brown said 65 percent. Data from the 2016 census shows 47 percent of the population commutes on a daily basis.)

“I’m all for action,” he said. “Brampton needs a new start, Brampton needs a real change.” He didn’t get much deeper than that.

Crime

As a former member of Peel’s Police Services Board, Gosal should have been able to articulate an important and complex role as mayor and board member, providing leadership on issues that directly impact public safety.

Instead, he was vague about the role and offered little assurance he would be the strong presence the city requires on the board.

He said to deal with evolving crime and technology, the best way forward is to collaborate with other police forces, including the OPP and RCMP.

Gosal said he would champion community policing and increased police communication in the community.

“Getting out of the cars and walking the streets, that is the best way to interact with the community,” he said. He repeated the line several times as the way forward for policing, even when questions on crime were about another specific topic.

Gosal revealed his limited knowledge of the role he once held when he called for equal representation on the board among Peel’s three municipalities, Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Caledon, though located in Peel, is not policed by the region’s force. The OPP is responsible for policing there.

Brampton’s Future

Gosal said he would attract new business to the city, but offered no concrete ideas to do so.

He said the city needs to focus on an east-west transit corridor with LRT and connections to the airport and subway.

He didn’t offer ideas to implement the ambitious Brampton 2040 Vision, but said he supports it.

To attract investment and businesses he mentioned cutting timelines for permits.

While some other candidates offered ideas to ease the tax burden on Brampton homeowners, Gosal simply stated he would create an “environment” that would be attractive for businesses and industry.

He completely avoided the question of how to control the developer lobby.

“We need to bring more industrial buildings, we need to bring manufacturing, office buildings, we don’t have any decent office buildings in Brampton right now,” he responded.

Overall Performance

Considering he’s a former federal cabinet minister, Gosal’s performance was the worst of the night. Skimpy on details, and quick to criticize Jeffrey for all of the city’s failings, with no tangible solutions of his own, one was left to wonder if Gosal is running a serious campaign.



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