Cover photo adapted from GettyImages
We recently had the chance to chat with Selina Chan, a candidate for mayor of Toronto with a background in charity work and a bunch of interesting ideas for how Toronto can bounce back and become better than ever.
The True North Times: Why did you decide to enter the Toronto mayoral race when it’s so full of ridiculous antics and insanity?
Selina Chan: I need a job. Oddly enough it has the lowest qualifications out of all of the jobs I’ve applied for. I guess that’s how you-know-who slipped through the crack. No pun intended?
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?
SC: Off the top of my head, a clean drug test to start. Coherent media statements, regular attendance at meetings. I’d also like to do a bit of damage control, so, y’know, the whole world doesn’t think all Toronto politicians are on crack.
TNT: You have a background in charity work. How has that informed your vision for Toronto?
SC: There are a lot of amazing charities in Toronto that are filling in the gaps that the city can’t reach, and [a lot of] people working very hard for these charities for little pay and no pensions. It shows that if people are passionate about their cause, a lot can be accomplished with little money. I’d like the city to take on this mindset. These are the people I want to make life better for.
TNT: How do you think you’ll be able to use your experience to help Toronto grow?
SC: Toronto is ready to explode in growth on its own, there are just certain things holding it back. Logistical problems like gridlock and transportation service times, red tape in city hall holding small businesses back, unnecessary delays in processing. Let’s stop policing marijuana and prostitution and focus on predatory crimes. Fill empty storefronts with innovative lease arrangements and pop up shops. Keep industries in check so things like Internet access don’t cost a family $100 a month when they can be spending that money on food. If I can get the back office in order, keep the city moving, and keep businesses honest and competitive, I think the rest will come.
TNT: Give us a rundown of the main planks of your platform.
1. Legalize and regulate both prostitution and marijuana in cooperation with provincial and federal authorities, because regulating these industries is the responsible thing to do, and also because LOOK AT ALL THE TAX REVENUE WE’RE MISSING OUT ON.
2. I want to evict people convicted of gun crimes from the city.
3. Get rid of gridlock by removing cars from Queen Street (streetcars, bikes, pedestrians and slow moving local traffic only); and then removing streetcars from both Dundas and King (which will become cars only).
4. Turn the Gardiner into a toll road and remove barriers to the waterfront; revitalize the waterfront and build open air gyms.
5. Sell the city’s social housing portfolio in 10 years and move to a system of mixed income housing supported by property tax breaks.
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?
SC: My strategy for restoring integrity to City Hall includes the following:
1. Not smoking crack;
2. Doing what is in the city’s best interests at all times and not going about it in a drunken idiotic way.
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 Chan administration?
SC: If City Council gets the job done, they can dance to and drink whatever they like. Although, shouting is not necessary, nor is taking inappropriate tones. Tackling involves touching, which I will also discourage on the basis of hygiene (I’d also rather people bow to me than shake my hand). Work comes first.
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?
SC: It was obvious a very long time ago that the upcoming election would be a shit show. I think it points to the ridiculousness of the current administration and the opportunity for candidates to capitalize on the media attention that Ford has brought upon the city. I think ‘crazy’ is a relative term. I might be the craziest one, who knows. Rob Ford won the last election, nobody thought he was crazy. I’m trying to approach my campaign in a common sense way, not going into debt for it, pitching genuinely good & doable ideas that would benefit the city that don’t cost a lot of money. Is that so crazy? But to answer your question literally and not philosophically, the top 5 candidates have all been a part of the same political machine for many years, and “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. City Hall needs a fresh perspective.
TNT: Lastly, if you could impart one piece of wisdom to our readers, what would you tell them?
SC: If you live your life the way you want, you will have lived your life the way you wanted.