Cover Photo courtesy of Erwin Sniedzins
Our team recently had the chance to sit down (digitally) with Erwin Sniedzins, a candidate to succeed Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto. Erwin is by far the most interesting person we’ve ever met, having worked as an innovator at Xerox, climbed Mount Everest to raise money to combat Rett Syndrome (along with decades more charity and community work), patented educational software, and so much more. We were thrilled to speak with him, and have shared a transcript of the interview below.
The True North Times: Why did you decide to enter the Toronto mayoral race when it’s so full of ridiculous antics and insanity?
Erwin Sniedzins: There were two major reasons that I am running for Toronto Mayor. One, it is because of these ridiculous City Hall antics and their insanity. The other is the unbelievable decline in our Transit system and the City of Toronto. I feel that with all my experiences and creativity skills that I would be able to provide vision, leadership, determination, creative problem solving and 21st century technology solutions to reverse the decline and acrimonious behaviour in City Hall.
TNT: Against all odds, Rob Ford is running for re-election. What will you be able to bring to the people of Toronto that he won’t?
ES: I have over 18 years in Senior Management with a fortune 200 company. I was voted the most innovative manager in the company and helped to grow it from $2 Billion per year to $12 Billion. So I have a lot of experience in corporations. I then put together an expedition to climb Mt. Everest for charity called Rett Syndrome and raised over $1 Million for them. I have spent 30 years doing community and charity work so I have a lot of experience in bringing together communities for worthy causes. I then produced a movie that won a Gold award at the New York International Film Festival which makes me appreciate the arts. I have a patented educational software invention that enables people to learn 32% better and up to 300% faster in real time over traditional learning methods. It is used in Toronto schools and around the world. So I know what it takes to create Intellectual Property and capital for a company and a city. I started an educational software company that I was able to take to the USA stock market. So I know what it takes to start a small business, make a profit, raise funds and stay afloat. I am a Professor in Education at Hebei University with a degree in Economics and Technology and know the educational struggles students, parents and teachers face in handling the changes in the 21st century.
This gives me a breadth and depth of micro and macro perspective and experiences in helping to deal with the numerous issues facing the city of Toronto. No other candidate has this range of skills and tools that I can bring to tackle Toronto’s problems and opportunities. My experiences ranges from large corporation, small business, communities, charities, inventions, technology, education, creativity and problem solving to local solutions in mobility, prosperity, sociality and ‘ecoity’.
TNT: You’ve done a lot of impressive things in your life, including meeting the Chinese leadership on a trip with then Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005. If you had told them about this Toronto mayoral race, what do you think they would say?
ES: When I met Premier Wen Jiabo in the Great Hall of the People it was to do business with Canada & Toronto by exporting my educational programs and artificial intelligent software engine to help people in China learn English 32% better and up to 300% faster in real time over traditional learning methods. Premier Wen was most gracious and would say, “ 欧文 (pronounced Owen in Chinese) you are one of the most interesting & accomplished man in that world that I have met. I know that you would will be a great mayor and will help Toronto and its people to prosper and glow with harmony and pride” I also met with Chairman Mao’s son in law General Wang in his daughter Li Na apartment and presented him with a book of Mao’s poems that I published in Canada. You will see a picture of a young Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao) on the wall behind us.
TNT: How do you think you’ll be able to use your experience to help Toronto grow?
ES: “Vision, Leadership, Creativity, Problem Solving, 21st century technology know how, determination and compassion will help Toronto grow as follows;
My experiences and skills has enabled me to provide a detailed foundation platform that I shared with the voters of Toronto and their councillors. The foundation does provide a common vision to make Toronto #1 again and the steps we need to take to implement the four pillars of the plan for; Prosperity, Mobility, Sociality and ‘Ecoity’. My corporate and business experience will enable me to work with the councillors to create a $1.5 Billion world class Tourist & Business Convention complex for Family, Youth and Adult Entertainment. A global competition will be made for architects to design a tourist destination facility for Toronto in the Ontario Place/CNE area. The result will generate over $300 Million in tax revenues and up to 4500 jobs in the area.
My creativity and problem solving skills has enabled me to begin a dialogue with Mr. Elon Musk to improve Toronto’s mobility by operating Tesla all Electric Double Decker buses in the downtown areas and selected routes. Downtown streets will be made one way. Right now one (1) streetcar costs $6 Million plus millions more to rip up streets to lay down tracks, high maintenance and build islands in the middle of the road. A Tesla Double Decker (TDD) electric bus only costs $800,000 and does not need roads to be ripped up and is flexible to get around car accidents. It can hold up to 90 passengers and will also be a tourist attraction. We can buy seven (7) buses for one (1) LRT streetcar. A TDD bus provides more effective scheduling to meet peak traffic times and fluctuating ridership demands which streetcars cannot do. A $15 Billion downtown relief line will be started next year with funding coming from Governments and Private funding, Mobility Bonds, GTA Mobility Lottery, Mobility Debit Card, Dedicated Mobility Hospitality Tax and 905 Congestion Toronto subscription Fees.
My not for profit and community experiences will enable us to provide a $1.2 Billion Sociality plan for up to 300,000 affordable housing units. ‘Ecoity’ is ecology in the city and $1 Billion is planned to provide up/down Hydro grid connectivity, dedicated bike trails, off hydro grid stand alone homes, urban & vertical farming, greening of building especially around condo development.
TNT: Give us a rundown of the main planks of your platform.
ES: I am the only candidate from day one that has submitted a detailed view of an extensive $20.2 Billion foundation plan with four pillar solutions to address some of the most obvious issues facing Toronto today. These four pillars are: Mobility – $15 Billion to move up to 5 Million daily riders by the 10th year starting with a downtown circular subway relief line & Tesla Electric Double Decker buses for downtown areas; Prosperity – $3 Billion to increase productivity by 9.8% & more than 45,850 jobs by 5th year which include youth; Sociality – $1.2 Billion to fix affordable housing for up to 300,000 families, improve senior, youth and community support centres; ‘Ecoity’ – $1 Billion for urban & vertical farming, sustainable hydro, green of buildings & planting Trees, bike trails.
TNT: You’re also running as an MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence in the Ontario provincial election. Do you think the skills in running a provincial riding and running a major city are similar, or do you just think you have both sets? Who is the “Rob Ford” of the provincial race?
a. Once a carpenter has learned how to use the tools in his/her bag it does not matter what size of a house you want to build. What is important is do you have a shared vision with your voters of what kind of community or City do we want to build for Torontonians. I have acquired skills and management tools over 45 years which I will use to help Toronto and my neighbours in the Eglinton-Lawrence community. In the Ontario Provincial Elections I am running as an Independent to provide the same skills that I have for the Mayoralty job which are: vision, leadership, determination, creative problem solving and 21st century technology solutions to the issues facing our Eglinton-Lawrence community and our city
b. And to prevent this unbelievable $5 Billion plus waste generated by the Liberals in Queen’s Park that would get CEOs fired in any company. It is impossible to trust the Liberals since Ms. Wynne is asking the board of directors – you the voters – to give her another chance. How can we do so? Ms. Wynne has been part of most of the scandals as a Minister with eHealth, ORNGE, Green Energy, Gas Plant, etc. Now she is going to spend $29 Billion that she does not have and I really worry about the waste and implementation. I say no way.
Who else but an Independent can stand up to a Liberal Boss who will spend whatever it takes to stay in power. Mr. Colle supported his boss AND did nothing to stop this wasteful insanity. Voting for Mr. Colle is the same as voting for waste. It is saying that you are willing to flush your hard earned dollars down the toilet time & time again. Only Erwin Sniedzins an independent can stop this madness.
a. There will be a minority government and an independent Erwin Sniedzins will have a greater say on priorities and wasteful spending.
Now we have Ms. Wynne offering to spend Billions again just to stay in power. This is unacceptable for any intelligent voter to keep the fox inside the chicken coop. The Liberals are on power substance abuse and not on the concerns or best interests for the people of Eglinton-Lawrence riding, Toronto & Ontario.
The Liberal waste is larger than Godzilla: GasPlant, Ornge, Hydro, MaRS, EHealth, and on and on. However their tax increases are like Godzilla’s Teeth biting into everyone with their increases in; Tire Tax, Beer tax, hydro tax, land transfer tax, smart meter tax, personal tax, business tax and so on to cover their wasteful behaviour. Mr. Colle is well liked in this riding and he tries his best but he cannot stop these unacceptable antics of his Bosses. He is on the same GRAVY train as they are. Only Erwin Sniedzins can. An independent that has Eglinton-Lawrence and the City of Toronto interests at heart.
What will I do for your Eglinton-Lawrence vote?
I am running to stop this wasteful madness & TAX INCREASES so THAT YOU & ME can have better TRUTHFUL support for; job creation, schools, Pre-school HomeCare, SeniorCare, Youth Centres, immigration, transit, lower taxes and retirement. By voting for Sniedzins you are voting for your independence from being a hostage to the Parties that only care about their Party
If we look at the shame that the Ontario Liberals have given the tax payers with their $5 Billion scandals and their POWER substance abuse than Ms. Wynne would be the “Rob Ford” as she main lines on political power at all costs.
TNT: The past twelve months have seen Toronto featured everywhere from the Daily Show to the Kuwaiti press. How would you restore Toronto’s reputation on the international stage?
ES: I would take this global BAD publicity and turn it into an international success story for global GOOD publicity. Then use this 1 time FREE global good news to ANNOUNCE to the world that we have a NON-FORD special with FREE Hotels, FREE Restaurants, FREE Theaters, FREE Sporting events to the First 10,000 overseas visitors. Naturally, we would be working with the Hospitality industry & departments of Tourism to coordinate this global marketing campaign. My goal is to make Toronto a Tourist destination for 25 Million visitors. We want Tourist and Business Convention dollars to fuel and grow the City not land transfer and property tax. France is the number one tourist destination in the world with 83 Million visitors. Toronto is number 22 with 16 Million visitors. One of the Tourist attractions will be a Wax Museum of Ford, his antics, denials and dismissal. [Satire intended]
TNT: Toronto City Council has become famous for shouting sessions, tackling colleagues, drinking milk, dancing, and tickling one another. What type of environment would you try to create in the Sniedzins administration?
ES: When you have a bull in a china shop people scramble to get out of the way and a lot of breakage occurs. Professionalism, respect coupled with vision, leadership, determination, creative problem solving and 21st century technology solutions with be the new norm to reverse the decline and acrimonious behaviour in City Hall. Toronto City Councilors wants the city to be number #1 again and will work on providing greater mobility, prosperity, sociality and ‘ecoity’ to our entire city stakeholders.
TNT: It seems like every other day someone new is throwing their hat into the ring. What do you think that says about this race? What makes you less crazy than the other candidates?
ES: There are over 140 communities in Toronto with 2.8 Million residents making it the most diverse city in the world. This is a lot of energy, talent, ideas and solutions we can draw upon to help make Toronto #1 in the world again. We need to have these communities and people engaged in our democratic civic process so we can harness their ideas and solutions. I am surprized that we do not have more people get involved with our City and politics.
What makes me a less ‘crazy’ or fringe candidates as the media call us – EXPERIENCE AND RESULTS. Most of the candidates are well-meaning, interesting and have their ideas to present to Toronto voters. I believe you must have a vision, faith and confidence that you can do a meaningful job for the voters in Toronto. I would ask the 1.66 Million voters in Toronto to check out my credentials, skills and experiences against all the other candidates and chose the one they feel or believe would be the best to represent them and to help them achieve the things they want for Toronto and themselves. However, in my case the issue is not these more interesting candidates but the mainstream media who will only focus on the key ‘crazy’ candidates. About 96.3% of the media is owned by 5 companies who in turn control most of the papers, radio, TV and cable in the City of Toronto. Therefore, the other interesting or ‘fringe’ candidates are not given the same or no coverage and a chance to share their platforms, ideas and solutions to the voters. The task is to break this synarchy media hold on shaping the voters idea that there are only 4 or 5 candidates in the race. New or alternate media such as True North are steps in this direction.
TNT: Lastly, if you could impart one piece of wisdom to our readers, what would you tell them?
ES: Keep dreaming and sharing your vision(s). It is imperative that you write down your vision(s) and what it means to you. It is then even more imperative that you write down what you would like to see, feel and talk about. Take these musings, prioritize them and set them into goals with timelines against your strengths and need for improvements. Once you have done this you will find that you will automatically start to gravity towards your inner most passionate desires and these things will come onto thee.
Enjoying our interviews with Toronto’s candidates for mayor? Help us interview them all by donating to our crowdfunding campaign!