Despite this year’s high-profile municipal election, voter turnout was down in Brampton, to an embarrassing 34.5 percent. That should prompt new mayor Patrick Brown to look for ways to nurture the political engagement of Bramptonians when it comes to the day-to-day issues that matter most.
The Pointer takes a look at the ups and downs of political turnout in Peel Region and the GTA, and some suggested solutions to the widespread attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” when it comes to municipal politics.
A survey conducted by Toronto Region Board of Trade shows that a large majority of residents of the GTA-Hamilton-Waterloo region think a proposal for consolidating transit systems under a single entity — dubbed “Superlinx” — makes sense.
The board’s president says the current system, which sends municipalities begging to higher governments for transit money, hasn’t worked, so it makes sense to send decisions to a body “where growth revenues, planning authority, and financing capacity already exist.” Some 87 percent of the Peel Region residents who took part in the board’s online panel agreed that the idea has merit.
But what happens when Brampton’s needs are pitted against, say, Scarborough’s remains an open question.
The trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit still hanging over the city heard from three retiring Brampton councillors, who testified that a number of issues around a controversial $500 million downtown development deal raised red flags.
The $205 million price of the city hall expansion, costs that should have been paid by the builder for a 377-day delay and a building that is too close to the street were some of the issues they addressed during the trial that wrapped up last month.
After Premier Doug Ford's shocking decision last week, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath’s move to put the money for Brampton’s Ryerson University campus and two others in the GTA back into the coming year’s provincial budget goes down to defeat in the legislature Monday.
Brampton’s two PC MPPs, Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South), were notably absent from the vote, after leaving the chamber shortly before the decision.
The traditional turban, which Sikh motorcyclists want to wear instead of a helmet, has a long and noble history as a symbol of the faith. Many consider it an indispensable and defining part of their identity.
An Ontario private member’s bill introduced by a Brampton MPP may finally succeed in bringing the province in line with other jurisdictions that have exempted observant Sikhs from helmet laws.
Doug Ford’s short-sighted decision to cancel funding for Brampton’s first full university campus won’t stymie the energy and ideas of young students and entrepreneurs determined to become the best they can be, both academically and economically.
But with all that Brampton represents and contributes to the provincial and federal governments, instead of using it as the launch-pad for their political parties’ election campaigns, they need to make investments to move the community forward.
Brampton MPPs have been busy inside Queen's Park as a pair of bills hit the floor touching on issues very close to the city.
Motivated by lobbying from the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) tabled a bill earlier this month—with club members present—that would exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcyclists from the helmet requirement. That bill arrived on the floor for second reading earlier this week receiving discussion and support from both sides of the aisle.
At the same time MPP Gurratan Singh brought forward his own bill looking to tackle Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates.
The PC government’s universities minister had no answer Thursday to pointed questions about how much money had already been sunk into three university campus projects before their provincial funding was abruptly cancelled this week.
A City of Brampton official said its planned Ryerson University campus and an accompanying innovation centre project will move forward, though it’s not clear how it will make up the $90 million contribution promised by the previous government.
The city’s two PC MPPs are echoing the party line, claiming a budget deficit made the cuts necessary, despite projections that the campuses would be huge revenue generators.
Brampton’s two Tory MPPs remained silent Wednesday on the loss of $90 million promised for a Ryerson University campus in the city—cancelled within a day of Patrick Brown’s win in the mayoral election. Meanwhile, inside Queen's Park NDP leader Andrea Horwath and three Brampton NDP members of the legislature were calling the move myopic and disastrous for the city’s economic plans.
The Doug Ford government claims the money promised by the former Liberal government—and cheered recently by some Tory MPPs whose constituents stood to gain a new campus—was too much for the province’s strained budget.
After Doug Ford's government made its shocking announcement Tuesday night, pulling $90 million in funding for a new Brampton university campus that had been approved by the previous Liberal government, councillors say they are committed to finding alternative ways to pay for the project.
Critics of the decision to pull the provincial funding say the university would be a huge economic benefit for the city, and that the project is far too important to abandon.
“It’s not the Brampton I thought I knew,” one-term mayor Linda Jeffrey said Monday night in expressing her disappointment at the surprising ascendancy of her late rival in the race, former PC leader and newly repatriated Bramptonite Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey replaced a controversy-plagued mayor with promises to straighten out the financial mess at city hall. Despite her early successes at doing just that, she stumbled when it came to solving the bigger problem: a fractious council whose squabbling left residents disillusioned with her leadership. On Monday, voters opted, however narrowly, to give Brown a chance to do better.
In stunning fashion, Patrick Brown completes a spectacular political comeback, defeating incumbent Linda Jeffrey to become Brampton’s next mayor. Some 44 percent of the vote was enough to seal the deal, completing a campaign that has been both divisive and a clear view into the issues affecting the city.
In a victory speech before a cheering crowd, Brown recounted a number of these issues, while also delivering his message for the future.
Charmaine Williams, seen here, is one of the new Brampton councillors who will lead the city. While attention was focused on the Brown-Jeffrey matchup as the election drew to a close Monday night, there were exciting changes happening at the ward level.
Four fresh faces on council, boosting diversity at city hall, and a new mayor may significantly change the dynamic in the coming four years — if old divisions on issues such as transit don’t begin to play out all over again.
Can Patrick Brown rise above the petty political in-fighting that has ruined the chance to rule by the last two mayors in office, and find common ground? Can he set aside campaign nastiness for the kind of teamwork that made a couple of people named Davis so successful in their political and sporting lives? He will answer these questions very soon after his impressive win that makes him the 51st mayor in the history of Brampton.
One possible move, involving his recently vanquished opponent, could be a win-win for everyone, especially for the city.
Of Brampton's and Mississauga's 23 elected municipal representatives, only one is a visible minority. That should be shocking, considering that about 65 percent of the cities' residents identify as a visible minority. But it’s actually all too familiar. The lack of corresponding ethnic representation on councils across the GTA is an issue minority communities and civic activists have been raising for years.
With Brampton’s population growing at three times the national average, the future will bring a growing list of diverse needs. Is it perhaps time to take this issue seriously in deciding how we vote?
Brampton citizens and the leaders they are set to elect must show a burning desire to move away from the destructive forces that have held this city back since it was reformed after the installation of regional government in the early 1970s.
Since then, a series of clashes and long-held grudges have defined the lack of leadership that has kept Brampton from reaching its potential.
It's an unfortunate reality that municipal elections tend to favour the status quo, for the simple reason that incumbents possess the name recognition, the connections and often the leg-up on fundraising that typically lead to success.
For newcomers, especially those who violate most elements of the political stereotype — older, white, male, and well-connected — the path to election is much more difficult.
Yet, there are challengers, willing to take a risk and prepared to burn shoe leather going door-to-door in hopes of becoming a game-changer.
The Pointer takes a look at one such candidate.
Brampton’s growing healthcare crisis was front and centre in the provincial legislature Tuesday as members hurled accusations at each other over the failure to adequately care for patients in the city.
After stories were told of city residents languishing in hospital hallways at Brampton Civic, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, supported by three of her party’s Brampton MPPs, failed to push through a motion to fund a third hospital in the city. Premier Doug Ford and Brampton’s two PC MPPs did not show up for the vote.
The debate became deeply divisive, with MPPs attacking each other over who is responsible for the desperate conditions inside the city's only full-service hospital.
A poll by Forum Research published exclusively by The Pointer shows Patrick Brown and Linda Jeffrey are in a dead heat just days before Monday’s election. Forum surveyed 647 eligible voters in the city Thursday.
Brown was eight points behind Jeffrey, but in a little less than two months his dizzying campaign has managed to pull him even. Voter turnout, depending on which side can more effectively pull supporters to the polls, could determine Monday's result.
It’s not a secret to Brampton drivers that they’re forced to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Some blame high rates of fraud and high-speed collisions that increase the cost of claims in the Brampton area—which end up costing everyone who lives in certain postal codes as much as $1,000 more per year than drivers in other parts of the GTA. Now, a pair of private member’s bills from two sides of the aisle at Queen’s Park have come forward to address the issue.
Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh introduced a private member's bill Tuesday at Queen's Park. He says he's heard enough talk on the issue, and like the thousands of Brampton drivers desperately seeking action, Singh says it's time the government does something about crippling auto insurance rates in the city.
The City of Brampton, Brampton Fire and Emergency Services and Peel Regional Police gathered Tuesday for a question and answer period to provide one final push of information ahead of the official legalization of cannabis.
As of October 17, the law now allows smoking or vaping pot in a host of places where ordinary cigarette smoking is currently allowed, absent municipal bylaws to place further restrictions on it. Brampton City Council has yet to gather public feedback on the law and its potential impact on the city, never mind deciding what it will do about allowing private pot shops within the city’s borders—which could come as soon as April.
The Pointer breaks down the perspectives of Brampton officials and what legalization may mean for residents of the city.
Ahead of his nine-day trip to India, which is wrapping up, The Pointer asked Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer if he would address with Indian officials the increasing concern being raised by advocacy groups and others about the country’s deplorable human rights record.
Brampton North federal Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna joined Scheer, seen here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, and just like other politicians from the city who travel there, he was silent on the issue of the country’s treatment of women, religious minorities and “lower caste” residents.
But both Scheer and Khanna did take time during the visit to criticize a nearby country’s human rights record.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, late in her campaign for re-election, has just released a transit plan for Brampton. It signals that she will again make the Main Street LRT route a key transit priority.
The current council term became mired in dysfunction when Jeffrey tried and failed to get the Main Street option pushed through shortly after her election.
Her new set of transit pledges also appear to include a rejection of the plan put forward, and approved unanimously by council, under the comprehensive Vision 2040 document, which outlines how the city should manage its future growth. Jeffrey's new platform could be a sign that, if re-elected, she would scrap much of the transit planning already underway.
Linda Jeffrey scored a big endorsement victory yesterday as local MPs and MPPs from all three major parties showed across the aisle support for the incumbent mayor. It's a significant sign that Jeffrey would be able to work with both levels of government if re-elected.
The announcement came less than a week after iconic Brampton politician and former Ontario premier Bill Davis threw his support behind Patrick Brown, the former Ontario PC leader who is Jeffrey's main rival in the mayoral race. With a week left before the October 22 municipal election the competition between the two clear front-runners seems too close to call.
With two clear front-runners in the race to be Brampton's next mayor, here's The Pointer's breakdown of the big issues facing voters and what Linda Jeffrey and Patrick Brown have said about them, ahead of Monday's municipal election.
The Pointer commissioned a poll in late August to find out what's top of mind for Brampton residents. Only 36 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2014, but hopefully a more informed public will mean more people out at the polls, as the city faces a watershed election with many major issues that will determine its future.
Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who is running to be the next mayor of Brampton, lays out his vision to The Pointer's readers in an op-ed.
For generations, the single-family home has been the holy grail of housing: a status symbol that has permeated the societal mindset and created wide, sprawling expanses of suburbia across the GTA, including Brampton. Data shows that the desire to own such a home has been passed on to the millennial generation. Nearly 60 percent of millennials could be on the hunt for a new home in the GTA by 2026.
That desire is on a collision course with the reality painted by the most recent report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. Our way of life needs to change drastically—and fast—if the planet is to avoid catastrophic damage.
A new report from Ryerson University describes one potential solution, but grasping it may involve a massive shift in how we think about what makes a home.
Controversial Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans announced Friday that she will be leaving the force in January. She informed the police board that oversees her of the pending resignation two months after it approved a probe of Evans' conduct by a police watchdog for the bungled investigation into three Mississauga family members who were found dead years apart.
After battling the board for much of the past four years, over issues such as carding, a practice she has strongly defended, Evans was given a two-year extension last year. But she announced that she will depart early in the coming new year.
It's a controversial issue: how do you balance Canadian values and laws protecting religious accommodation with saftey and fairness concerns that surround the Ford government plan to exempt Sikh-Canadians from wearing motorcycle helmets?
Local MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria, a turban-wearing Sikh, was a driving force behind the move announced by Ford in Brampton yesterday. In a place where Sikh-Canadians make up such a huge part of the city's fabric, The Pointer asked citizens here, politicians and experts what they think of the move by Ontario's government.
Patrick Brown gets a bump, after former Ontario premier and legendary Brampton politician Bill Davis "officially" showed his support for Brown, incumbent Linda Jeffrey's main rival, at an event Tuesday evening.
In what some are already calling a surprise move, after Davis backed Jeffrey four years ago, the show of support might prove significant in an already close mayoral race between the two clear front-runners.
The leader of the federal Conservative party is in India on a mission to “repair and strengthen” Canada’s relationship, following a controversial trip early in the year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But human rights won't be on the agenda. The Pointer asked Scheer if issues such as the widespread rape of women, attacks against religious minorities and the barbaric treatment of hundreds of millions of India’s “lower caste” residents would be addressed.
As is the case when Brampton politicians and other officials go there, human rights seems to be out of bounds. Canada’s position with India is inconsistent with its stance toward other countries, despite conditions that human rights groups describe as alarming and getting worse.
Jeff Chalmers thinks political engagement is the key to making positive decisions for the city's future. His unscientific polling method, to get people involved, has street cred. In fact, he has literally taken his form of surveying to the streets, in his mobile chrome eatery that serves up food-to-go while gauging the political pulse of the city.
Chalmers wants citizens to get interested in the decision-making process that impacts their daily lives. There's no better way to pull them in than food. With political polling being an inexact science that has, over the years, employed thousands of people and cost millions of dollars, The Pointer asked Chalmers, over a plate of one of his famous dishes, about the latest results from his recent poll, which asked patrons who they would pick in the race to be Brampton's mayor. You might be surprised by what he found.
An op-ed by incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey on why she wants Brampton voters to re-elect her in the October 22 municipal election. She makes her case to The Pointer's readers.
Ontario’s healthcare dollars should be distributed according to numbers and need. So why has Brampton – one of the fastest growing cities in Canada – been shortchanged, again?
Why isn’t part of the $90 million being handed out by the Ford government at Queen’s Park to help eliminate ‘Hallway Healthcare’ going to the city where the phrase was popularized in the first place?
Bramptonians have been looking to the provincial government for help to solve bottlenecks in the healthcare system that have led to bed shortages and hallway medicine at the city’s only full-service hospital, but it was ignored in a new funding plan announced Wednesday.
While the Ontario government’s growth targets for Peel Region continue to push Brampton’s population to a breaking point, Queen’s Park seems disconnected from the resulting problems, such as the city’s healthcare crisis.
With more than 4,300 Brampton Civic Hospital patients treated in hallways in 2016 The Pointer asked the two new Progressive Conservative MPPs, Prabmeet Sarkaria and Amarjot Sandhu, how they are representing Brampton’s interests inside their government as the healthcare crisis continues. They didn’t have much to say.
No part of Wednesday’s provincial government announcement of $90 million—$10 million less than the Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne offered at the start of the last flu season—will go toward relieving the crisis at overloaded, overcrowded Brampton Civic Hospital, whose rash of “hallway medicine” stories helped turn the problem into a provincial election issue last spring.
Nor is there any indication of how many of the promised extra long-term care beds will come to one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, whose rapidly expanding healthcare needs and the urgency of fixing them already form a major issue in the upcoming municipal election.
If elected mayor, Patrick Brown pledged during a Thursday morning announcement to ease the city's crippling traffic. His plan touched on many issues Brampton residents have raised for decades, such as securing all-day, two-way GO Train service, but he offered few details about how he will actually achieve the ambitious set of promises he outlined.
In a recent poll commissioned by The Pointer, reducing traffic congestion was the number one issue respondents chose, when asked what they want council to focus on during the upcoming term.
The new-look North American free trade agreement fixes some, but not all of the inequities in the original NAFTA, and eases the tensions for the business community in Brampton. But at the macro level, Canada is trying to create a new-style business model that is impervious to American interests and Donald Trump’s bully-boy tactics. The new deal provides motivation for local and national companies to take stock of opportunities around the world, for them and our well-educated, dynamic workforce.
In recent weeks, the idea of effective representation has been thrust into the spotlight as Premier Doug Ford took a legislative axe to Toronto City Council. Can 25 people effectively represent almost three million constituents? Municipal councils across the GTA, whose members find their workload growing as the region booms, are struggling with the same question. Nowhere is this more clear than in Brampton, the second fastest growing city in Canada. What do we need here to feel effectively represented by our local elected officials?
Do we want them answering endless calls about snow on sidewalks and the annual pothole hysteria; or do we want them addressing complex urban planning issues and how to handle the challenges of modern policing? Or do we expect them to do it all? Speaking with councillors across the GTA, from Oshawa to Brampton, it’s apparent that people who hold the position often see the role differently.
Evidence presented recently at trial by a company that alleges it was unfairly disqualified from a $500-million downtown development deal shows Inzola Group’s bid to build the city hall extension was a little more than half the $205 million being paid by the City of Brampton for the building.
Evidence also suggests the finished building does not provide the amount of required administrative space detailed in the bid contract for the deal.
Thousands of the city’s auto-sector workers were on pins and needles while U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened tariffs as high as 25 percent on Canadian-made autos, which could have crippled the industry. A new deal officially announced Monday, clears the way for Ontario’s huge auto industry to keep expanding.
News wasn’t as rosy for the agricultural sector, particularly dairy producers, including companies in Brampton. The new deal could see more than $700 million of additional foreign dairy products enter Canada annually.
But the agreement might bring relief to Brampton’s large aluminum and steel sector, which was hit hard by recent U.S. tariffs.
While Ontario Premier Doug Ford doesn’t appear to know where exactly his government will allow legal marijuana to be used once new rules come into effect next month, Brampton officials, including incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey, aren’t even sure if the city will opt into plans to allow retail outlets next year.
Brampton’s diverse community groups, another council member says, will likely introduce a range of cultural values into what’s sure to be a complex debate on legal marijuana, one the city has not yet even initiated. With other GTA cities vowing to prevent pot sales, will a new council be ready to tackle this major issue?
Linda Jeffrey’s hopes to ease into re-election on Oct. 22 were shattered by the late entry onto the ballot of Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey’s performance during a debate Tuesday, which included pointed attacks on Brown and references to the scandals that got him turfed as Ontario PC leader, often failed to convey the sense of a mayor ready to unite a city desperate for leadership.
Mississauga’s massive $1.5 billion M City project is just one of many 905 developments that Brampton’s stagnating downtown is missing out on without a firm commitment by city leaders to finally resolve the decades-old downtown flood problem.
Critics say Brampton will struggle to keep up with surrounding cities that are quickly shedding their status as suburban bedroom communities.
While places like Mississauga continue to boom, with constantly rising skylines, Brampton’s downtown remains hampered by strict floodplain restrictions that make it difficult to create a dynamic city centre.
Incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey made her stance on the city’s current LRT study quite clear during a boisterous debate at Brampton’s Rose Theatre Tuesday night, calling alternative routes “foolish” and decrying the layout put forward in the ambitious Brampton 2040 Vision plan.
The debate also saw mud-slinging from all sides with Jeffrey’s main contender Patrick Brown taking the chance to criticize the lack of foresight in Jeffrey’s adamant support for the Main Street route, which council already turned down, while pushing his repeatedly used campaign slogan that Brampton is not getting its fair share.
U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are already hurting firms in Brampton, and with the possibility of more levies on products such as cars built by Fiat Chrysler here, Donald Trump's anti-NAFTA stance could undermine the future of almost 4,000 workers at the Williams Parkway plant, and others.
With a huge manufacturing base, tens of thousands of Brampton workers could be negatively impacted by a bad trade deal, as the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement remains uncertain. While negotiations continue on the international level, many in the city are keenly aware of how big the stakes are locally.
With a new council soon making decisions inside city hall, a new provincial government and a new visionary plan for Brampton's future, a proposed Light Rail Transit system is surrounded by uncertainty. After council turned down a provincially funded $1.6-billion route that would have seen an LRT roll right into Brampton’s ageing downtown core, the city must now find alternative ways to get people moving. It could mean big spending on behalf of taxpayers. The Pointer takes a step back and looks at how Brampton arrived at this juncture, and what the future could bring as the population booms and efficient transit becomes even more crucial.
One thing is clear, the city can't afford another four years of council gridlock, largely caused by the LRT debate that dominated the current term.
With alarmingly low voter turnout, municipal elections in Brampton tend to proceed along depressingly predictable lines. Front-runners for the mayor’s job are usually drawn from a list of familiar names at city hall or higher levels of government. But this year a lineup of lesser-known candidates, such as lawyer Wesley Jackson, provides voters with some refreshing insights into alternative viewpoints and passionately conceived ideas about how to make the city stronger, wiser and richer in the things that make for a good life.
On September 20, The Pointer hosted a mayoral debate for all candidates in partnership with Sheridan College. Incumbent Linda Jeffrey called in sick, opening the floor for the other six registered contestants in the race, ahead of the October 22 municipal election. With a panel of four Brampton citizens asking most of the questions, the lively debate, which ran for more than two hours, offered voters insights about who to pick on the ballot.
To help voters make the important decision, here is The Pointer’s breakdown of each candidate's performance during the recent debate.
Linda Jeffrey did not attend Thursday evening's debate for mayoral candidates. In her absence Patrick Brown impressed audience members who frequently applauded the policies and vision for the city he outlined during more than two hours of lively debate at Sheridan College. Five other candidates also took turns introducing themselves to voters, many of them often criticizing Jeffrey, describing her as a failed leader with little support on her own council.
But Brown was the star of the night, evidenced by the vocal support expressed by many of the approximately 150 people in attendance.