Decades-old images of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in blackface and brownface have rocked his election campaign.
But in Mississauga and Brampton, cities where two-thirds of residents are visible-minorities, attitudes seem largely unconcerned. Predictably, candidate responses broke along party lines.
Neighbourhoods in Mississauga and Brampton are in crisis. A mass shooting in Malton Saturday was followed by two more gangland-style ambushes, one in north Brampton Monday and one in central Mississauga Tuesday. In total, two people were murdered and seven others were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds.
While the bloody attacks and their alarming details are consumed as attention-grabbing headlines by millions across the GTA and, increasingly, around the country, for frustrated local politicians and trembling residents caught in the criminal web, the situation has reached a tipping point.
Brampton and Mississauga, which host an increasing number of foreign students every year, are grappling with the effects of an aspect of immigration policy largely overlooked in federal election platforms: student visas.
One international student laid out his concerns to The Pointer.
Mississauga’s draft climate change action plan has a greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent by 2050. But that strikes Mayor Bonnie Crombie as not good enough.
She wants to reduce net emissions by 100 percent come 2050. Is this attainable? Or is it just city hall blowing hot air?
Complaints about unregistered basement apartments and the like are down in Mississauga this year. And while that sounds like good news, Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr says data from the city’s planning department suggests there may be 20,000 to 30,000 secondary units throughout the city.
The number actually legally registered currently stands at 847.
Gunfire erupted outside a busy Mississauga apartment building on Saturday leaving one 17-year-old bystander dead and several others with gunshot wounds.
The fatal act of violence has shaken the city and drawn the attention of federal politicians early in the election campaign, with mixed messages from the party leaders about how to address violent crime, which has spiked dramatically across two of the country's largest cities over the last five years. Local Councillor Carolyn Parrish has for years demanded more resources for policing in her ward.
Sven Spengemann says his concerns stem from the belief that communities are judged by how they treat the most vulnerable, and the fact his riding has its share of poverty.
The Liberal says representing a lakeside riding also makes being a champion for the environment especially important. He would, among other things, restore funding for the original plan for Mississauga’s LRT.
Provincial backpedalling will spare the Region of Peel some pain, but funding will still shrink by $39 million over three years. The chaos at Queen’s Park, with stark cuts being ordered without much detail and then mitigated or delayed in response to public outcry, is creating no end of headaches for the region’s financial staff and planners. Not to mention councillors forced to decide whether to reduce services residents have come to count on or hike their property taxes — just to keep things as they are.
The reasons aren’t entirely clear: Are voters unaware? Don’t care? Or just focused on the national race, with little regard for the local candidate? Whatever the reasons, scandals over offensive social media posts and the like have done little to budge the needle on polls as the federal election campaign wears on.
Brampton North candidate Arpan Khanna and Streetsville candidate Ghada Melek, both Conservatives, are among those who seem to be weathering the storm after controversy.
In the wake of a mass shooting in Malton that killed a 17-year-old, Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish wishes the community police station at Westwood Square Mall was still open.
So do some local residents who feel unsafe and dispute the impression that crime in the area had decreased enough to warrant shutting it down. It was closed to cut costs in February 2018, despite Parrish’s battle to keep it open.
International recognition of a climate emergency has offered the Greens a boost for the upcoming federal election. However, while the party seems to be on the upswing across Canada, the message continues to struggle in Brampton and Mississauga, where the car reigns.
With just over a month to go, local candidates of varying professionalism are working to open the eyes of the electorate to an issue they have been campaigning on for years.
British technology expert Sam Jeffers told a Brampton audience this week that our upcoming federal election might be riddled with security worries, as waves of disinformation from unchecked social media sites spit out cyber advertising and fake news that have plagued campaigns around the world, and could rear their ugly head here. Over the next few weeks in our hyperactive news environment that will fill the cybersphere ahead of October 21, “Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour” will again become a sign of our times.
The province has reversed course on a controversial decision in May to freeze funding for paramedic services and will now provide a small boost into next year.
The flip-flop epitomizes the confusion experienced by municipalities across Ontario as the Doug Ford PCs continue to make cuts, only to reverse them in response to public outcry. One regional councillor tells The Pointer that Peel is in a “holding pattern,” waiting for a semblance of certainty.
Though the incumbent for Mississauga–Erin Mills has made a mark in Parliament in the area of human rights — drawing malicious backlash at times — she’s counting on her focus on seniors and other local concerns to persuade voters to keep her in Ottawa.
She sat down with The Pointer to talk about the issues that most concern residents of her riding.
Arpan Khanna, who secured his candidacy a year ago, is the latest parliamentary hopeful to be dogged by his past comments posted on social media, as the theme has dominated the federal election campaign over the first few days ahead of the October 21 vote. He used homophobic language years ago and is now facing mounting pressure to step down.
A number of controversial remarks captured in the cryptic space of the internet have forced party leaders to stumble off their policy platforms, while having to address a growing list of questionable past remarks made by candidates.
Ten years. That’s all it took for fentanyl to go from a potent painkiller used to manage only the most serious post-surgery pain to one of the most deadly street drugs in the country.
In Peel, opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl have skyrocketed, leaving the Region of Peel and community organizations struggling to tamp down the problem — a task made even more difficult by the region’s underfunded public health budget.
In 2016, the federal government’s national action plan to combat human trafficking expired. For three years, service providers and community organizations have been pushing for Ottawa to step up and once again make human trafficking a priority.
Days before Parliament was officially dissolved, signalling the start of the federal election campaign, the Liberal government finally took that step.
With the 905 set to be a key battleground this federal election, major party leaders should pay attention to Peel’s rapidly growing infrastructure needs.
With 12 seats up for grabs, two fewer than each of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the booming region becomes a hotbed of election activity every four years, but the question is, what are party leaders and elected MPs doing for residents in between?
The killing of a fawn, allegedly by a dog, raises concerns that too many people are ignoring the signs reminding pet owners to leash their dogs — and cyclists to get off their bikes on the conservation area’s trails and boardwalks.
The petition signers want more prominent signage and stronger enforcement against practices dangerous to wildlife.
Suicide attempts have risen by half among Peel youth in the past seven years. That’s just one of the saddening statistics that motivated a new multi-agency partnership called Project Now, with a goal of fostering hope and resiliency and better coordinating services to help troubled kids in Mississauga, where the rate of youth suicide has seen a dramatic rise in recent years.
Rates of anxiety among youth in general have increased sharply over the last decade.
The Ford government’s pointed attack on our conservation authorities is short-sighted and will result in this province paying a heavy ecological price over the next few years. The green movement can work in concert with the business community, and the best example is an ongoing reclamation project on the old Ontario Power Generation lands in the southeastern section of Mississauga. This Lakeview miracle could remake the city. But any possible divinity, in Mississauga and Brampton and beyond, lies in the hands of citizens, including those in the seats of power, who can stare down the premier.
Sometimes it’s not the wheels on the bus but the endless quest for transit cash that keeps going round and round. The country’s sixth and ninth largest cities are at a watershed: get the funding to get residents out of their cars and into public transit, or continue the suburban trends of the past few decades.
Representatives of 22 of Canada’s biggest cities, including Mississauga and Brampton, want to end the cycle of transit funding dependency on the federal government that Ottawa ignores. They have a plan to make sure good transit keeps being built in places large and small until at least 2038 — if the feds will only sign on.
Mississauga is swimming in policy reports about environmental issues, cycling and transit. But a recently commissioned study now on the desks of city planners offers a revolutionary approach that could greatly reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, in keeping with the climate “crisis” city council declared in June.
Adopting it would mark a huge step, one that some wonder if Mississauga is capable of making.
Whispers of strikes and job action abound among educators. So far, the teachers’ unions have been opaque about how negotiations with the province are going.
In Peel schools, much depends on how those higher-level talks proceed.
The GTA, including Peel Region, welcomes nearly eight of every 10 immigrants arriving in the province, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada. That means other centres, despite efforts to attract newcomers, are missing out on the economic benefits immigration brings to an aging population. There may be strategies to change that.
The numbers don’t look good just days ahead of the expected federal election call. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP stands a good chance of losing a significant number of seats. Procrastination in naming candidates and internal strife have given the NDP an air of disorganization — not least in Mississauga, where only one NDP candidate has even been named, as of Saturday.
The Liberal Leader made a surprise fundraising visit to Brampton Thursday. Strangely, the event was for an Oakville candidate, but it’s clear Justin Trudeau is looking to consolidate the 905. The country’s sixth and ninth largest cities, which the party swept in 2015, will be the key. The evening gave some of the incumbents a moment in the spotlight, including Mississauga Centre’s Omar Alghabra, who said residents in his riding have one clear message about the type of leader they don’t want to see.
Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish is proposing rules that would put Peel Region councillors in charge of approving all regional contracts over $50,000 — much lower than the current $250,000.
The move follows revelations that senior regional staff quietly hired and directed a consultants’ report to prove that Peel Region should stay intact — while undermining Mississauga’s bid to secede.
The popular festival highlights Mississauga’s vibrant Muslim community and bridge-building with others, in contrast to the heightened suspicions and discrimination in evidence of late at the U.S. border, where numerous Muslim men on family trips report being turned away for unknown reasons.
A move to buy 11 more of the less-polluting buses marks another step toward an inevitable transition to all-electric, says the commissioner of transportation.
Currently, MiWay’s fleet is the City of Mississauga’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, higher even than city-owned buildings.
Poll averages suggest much of the city is sticking with the party in power, with the NDP slow off the mark even to name candidates. Navdeep Bains, the highest-profile incumbent, is leading the pack in a riding that poll aggregator 338Canada deems “safe” for the Grits.
But voters may be paying much more attention to the two-way race among national party leaders than their local candidates.
Darren John, who raps under the name Avalanche the Architect, is appealing a 2015 conviction for uttering threats contained in the lyrics of one of his songs, following a feud with his former music promoter.
As that case is set to be heard in December, two judges and a judicial body have identified issues with John’s treatment in court during other legal matters, pointing out bias and prejudice against him. It’s a systemic issue that John says has plagued him over the past two decades while he’s been forced to deal with a justice system that only sees him as a big, bad Black man, not a person.
Emails and documents obtained by The Pointer show an external analysis quietly ordered by senior regional staff to study possible scenarios for the future of Peel was preordained to favour the preservation of regional government.
Top region executives Nando Iannicca (chair/CEO), Stephen VanOfwegen (CFO) and David Szwarc (former CAO), working with an outside consultant without regional council’s knowledge, took steps to ensure the outcome while undermining the credibility of a financial report Mississauga used to back its claim that the city would be better off as an independent municipality.
The necklace of projects that will re-make the city’s once abused waterfront, is dominated by the Lakeview Village plan. Yet, it is not exactly what the late Ward 1 councillor Jim Tovey and the Lakeview Ratepayer’s Association envisioned when they brought forward a community driven plan to win back the lakefront for the citizens living in southeast Mississauga. The Four Sisters was the worst of ugly, industrial post-war thinking. On pristine waterfront its towering smokestacks were built far beyond a human scale. Has this city learned from its past, or is it fated to make the same mistakes all over again?
The Liberal government touted the numbers last week as it marked four years of investments in affordable housing through its National Housing Strategy.
But the nearly 14,000 households on the waitlist in Peel might be left wondering why more of that largesse hasn’t come to the fast-growing region.
The high-pressure, high-stress world of a paramedic’s daily work contributes to a rate of suicide almost triple the national average. PTSD took the life of Peel paramedic Chris Rix two years ago.
His widow, Michelle, and work partner Caitlin remember Chris and the deep inner pain that led to his untimely death at the age of 40.
Nishan Duraiappah in Peel and Peter Sloly in Ottawa are among the progressives recently named chiefs of major municipal police forces.
Their fresh perspectives could shake up entrenched police cultures that have created a divide between officers and the people they serve and lead to a more community-based approach to crime prevention.
With only a few days left before the start of school Ontario teachers still don’t have a new contract.
The province and union teams are negotiating quietly, but there appears to be no imminent deal before contracts expire Saturday Aug. 31. Education Minister Stephen Lecce might update the situation later today.
Amid a raft of big federal announcements for transit in the runup to this fall’s election, there’s reason for Brampton to be jealous of places like Toronto, Quebec City and London.
Neighbour Mississauga can celebrate how its provincially funded LRT is moving ahead with the choice of a project manager. But Brampton’s absence from the largesse list can be traced to city council’s dithering.
Stronger supports for survivors through the court process could result in more convictions as well as less traumatic outcomes for human trafficking victims.
It’s a big issue for Peel, which has an extremely high incidence of sex trafficking. But it’s not clear how much of a $54-million crime fund just announced by Ottawa and Queen’s Park will help the region deal with a rapid uptick in cases.
Unions aren’t speaking out on the province’s last-minute backtracking on controversial key issues — including high school class sizes. But they’re also in the thick of talks to renegotiate their contracts, which expire this Saturday. It’s not clear how the Doug Ford government’s latest decision, after months of public backlash, will affect the new school year, which begins next week.
The province and the federal government uncharacteristically came together Monday to reveal a $54-million fund to combat violent crime in Ontario.
Peel Region will also be home to an “intensive firearms bail team,” a group of Crown attorneys that will provide expert feedback on firearms offenders whose requests for bail are under review.
Last week’s annual meeting of Ontario’s 400-plus municipalities featured lots of backtracking by the ruling PC government after its plans to download even more costs onto homeowners. Property taxpayers are being crippled by all the costs falling on their shoulders. If the federal and provincial governments are incapable of growing the economy to increase public funding, cities and towns have to be given more revenue tools. Otherwise, homeowners will drown in property taxes.
Having already planned for staffing cuts in response to the PC government’s plan to dramatically increase high school class sizes, Thursday’s surprise announcement to scrap the move, just two weeks before school starts, has thrown Peel’s two public school boards into the wringer. The boards already sent layoff notices to teachers in anticipation of having fewer classes, and some courses were put on the chopping block. But now, the boards will have to scramble to recalibrate the entire high school system based on the existing classroom size caps.
Nurses and doctors in the emergency room. Lawyers working in our courts. And even firefighters who respond to a range of calls in the community.
They all brush up against the victims and perpetrators of human trafficking. For those fighting this growing global crime, certain professions that deal closely with the public, often when people are in distress, can be an invaluable resource. Building bridges with them is the first step.
Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced on Wednesday the rollout of the province’s much anticipated revised sexual education curriculum.
Doug Ford had promised to scrap the Kathleen Wynne-era framework, but the new plan borrows heavily from the same approach used by the previous Liberal government, despite the premier’s election pledge. The move has left some parents in Peel upset.
A community safety plan to focus stakeholders on curbing youth violence in Peel as a new chief is set to arrive, is the key to addressing the rise in crime. A new regional plan mandated by the province is now taking shape, just as the incoming chief of police is set to take over the third largest municipal force in the country in October. He says crime has to be approached with an “upstream” strategy, tackling the root social and environmental factors that push young people in the wrong direction.
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced Monday that all municipalities across Ontario will share costs of public health funding on a 70-30 ratio. For the Region of Peel, this was good news as it will lighten the cost of paying for public health. The region has previously covered 37 percent of the pricetag. But Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown warns that provincial cuts in other areas will pose a significant challenge for the city’s taxpayers.
It only takes one spark to light a local politician into action on behalf of a worthwhile cause. The rising rate of human trafficking in our cities should propel our local leaders to join advocacy efforts around the world.
The ongoing annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is the perfect place for the latest warrior in the fight against this modern form of slavery to emerge. All it takes is for the light to be switched on.
A who’s who of municipal and provincial leaders are in Ottawa this week to schmooze, plan and discuss some of the most pressing concerns facing municipalities today.
In this first of a three part series, The Pointer looks at three reasons why the issue of human trafficking should be among them.
Journalist John Ivison has penned a profile of Justin Trudeau, as Brampton voters and many other Canadians decide whether or not the son of a formidable former leader has what it takes to steer our country during these politically volatile times.