Inside Politics

Meet your potential future federal by-election candidates, Toronto Centre!

As my CBC colleague Leslie MacKinnon reported earlier today, veteran author/journalist Linda McQuaig is the latest addition to the steadily lengthening list of candidates-in-waiting hoping to win the right to carry the colours for their respective parties -- orange, in McQuaig's case -- in the still-undeclared Toronto Centre by-election.

The full list of nomination contenders, as of today:



Diana Burke


Twitter: @TeamDianaBurke

Official Bio: "Diana Burke immigrated to Canada from Jamaica over 40 years ago, the first of a large and successful family of new Canadians who developed a passion for their adopted country: a strong, free, tolerant and welcoming home.

Diana is a visionary technology pioneer with invaluable skills and experience. As a senior executive of Royal Bank Financial Group worldwide (Chief Information Security Officer, in her last position), she foresaw the advent of a cashless society and played a leadership role in building the complex, fast and secure networks we have all subsequently come to take for granted.

Because of her unique background and talents, Microsoft named her to its global advisory body on information security. In a world increasingly operating through cyber-networks and threatened by cyber-terrorism, these knowledge and skill sets have become invaluable.

Diana is a hard-working and charismatic person whose ability to attract and manage large numbers of volunteers and employees is well-established--both in business and in community endeavours. These traits transfer well to electoral politics. She also has a bachelors degree in history from Queens University.

Diana's many community and charitable commitments are diverse and remarkable. One of her favourite projects has resulted in early childhood computer learning through "Tech de Bus", a school bus equipped with computers, an electrical generator and a satellite dish which moves among the remote mountain villages of Jamaica. She is the recipient of the Tony Coelho Award and many other distinctions. She was President of the International Women's Forum - Toronto Chapter a global organization of outstanding women leaders, and was instrumental in leading the largest fundraiser for their 2010 conference which attracted over 800 attendees and was hosted in Montreal.

Diana enjoys financial independence and is committed to devoting herself full-time
to nomination and election campaigns and understanding the community needs. 
She is aware of the nature and scale of the challenge and is ready and willing to undertake whatever it requires to succeed."

Why she's running:

"In recent years, I have begun to feel that the Canada of great opportunity and equality that I chose and love is under siege. I have come to the conclusion that running for office under the banner of the Liberal Party of Canada that gave me hope is the best way for me to give back to this country and to our community of Toronto Centre, where I have lived for 25 years."

Chrystia Freeland


Twitter: @cafreeland

Official bio: "An esteemed Canadian journalist and author, Chrystia Freeland was born in Peace River, Alberta and studied at Harvard University where she received a B.A. in History and Literature.

Freeland continued her studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, where she completed her Master's of studies degree.

After cutting her journalistic teeth as a Ukraine-based stringer for the Financial Times, Washington Post, and The Economist, Freeland went on to wear many hats at the Financial Times, including deputy editor, UK news editor, Moscow bureau chief, Eastern Europe correspondent, editor of its weekend edition, and editor of

Freeland served as deputy editor of Canada's The Globe and Mail between 1999 and 2001, before becoming the U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times.

In 2010, Freeland joined Canadian-owned Thomson Reuters as editor-at-large. She most recently worked as Managing Director and Editor of Consumer News.

Freeland was a weekly columnist for the Globe and Mail, writing extensively about the challenges facing the middle class.

Freeland is the author of Sale of a Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution (2000) and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012).

She is the recipient of the prestigious Lionel Gelber Award and the 2013 National Business Book Award.

Freeland is married and the proud mother of three children."

Why she's running:

The decline of "broad middle class prosperity," which Freeland said underpins democracy, is the reason she's running now. "That sounds like a highfalutin kind of point, but that's what I've been writing about and thinking about."

It's the "big challenge of our generation," she said. "I think it should be at the centre, really, of all political discourse." Solutions can't be boiled down to a "five-page position paper," Freeland said, but she mentions social mobility, entrepreneurship and aligning large corporations with the public good as a way of returning the middle class to something like "the golden post-war era." - Toronto federal vacancy attracts media stars for Liberals, NDP (

 Todd Ross


Twitter: @tejross

Official bio: "Todd is a committed and experienced community organizer with an approach that is collaborative. He has a solid track record of driving community engagement to generate results, and his track record speaks for itself.

Born and raised in New Brunswick, Todd began his career in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Naval combat information operator and served on HMCS Saskatchewan. He studied political science at the University of New Brunswick, as well as at Atkinson College at York University.

Todd is a proud Métis and lives in Toronto with his partner Kirk."

Why he's running:

"Hi, I'm Todd. I'm also known as Wabanquot - Migizi doodem
 (White Cloud - Eagle Clan). I'm a proud Metis, a proud Liberal, and a proud member of the Toronto Centre community.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says "we need to be a party of community leaders, devoted to community service."

I believe Justin has it right. There is too little engagement with our communities in the Harper government. For this reason, I am pleased to announce that I will seek the federal Liberal nomination in Toronto Centre.

For the past 19 years I have helped build communities by bringing devoted and passionate people together across our riding. These efforts have created real change on key issues such as health care, immigration, the environment, housing, and aboriginal and human rights. I want to bring this experience to create real change in Ottawa - for the people of Toronto Centre and Canada.


New Democrats

Jennifer Hollett


Twitter: @jenniferhollett

Official bio: "Jennifer Hollett is an award winning broadcast journalist with a commitment to social justice. At present, she is seeking the Toronto Centre Federal NDP Nomination in the upcoming by-election.

As a television host and reporter, Jenn has worked for the CBC, CTV, and is a former MuchMusic VJ. In 2002, Jenn travelled to Kabul to host A MuchMusic Special: Afghanistan, a Gemini nominated documentary. She hosted the CBC's G20 Street Level blog during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto which won a Canadian Online Publishing Award, and was recognized by Amnesty International Canada with a 2009 Media Award for her CBC radio reporting from Israel/Palestine.

Human rights and social justice have been a consistent focus in Jenn's work. She previously managed e-communications for Plan Canada, worked with Journalists for Human Rights to train journalists in Sierra Leone, and volunteered to create YouthCARE, a youth engagement program with CARE Canada. She is a strong advocate for women's and girls' rights, and has been proud to moderate the G(irls)20 Summit in Toronto (2010), Paris (2011), Mexico City (2012), and Moscow (2013).

A leading digital expert and visionary, Jenn recently developed the critically acclaimed 'Super PAC App', which helped make television campaign ads more transparent to viewers during the 2012 U.S. election. Technologically savvy, Jenn has worked in digital communications since the late '90s, when she became the youngest manager ever at Sony Music Canada, and developed new media strategies for the label's top artists.

Jenn has a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Journalism and Communications from Concordia University in Montreal, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University.

She currently consults on digital projects, and works with The Leading Change Network to train community activists with Marshall Ganz, who designed the 2008 grassroots strategy for Barack Obama. She lives in, and loves, Toronto Centre and feels it captures the best of the city and country."

Why she's running:

Growing up in St. Catharines, Ont., in a single-mother family, Hollett said she first became attracted to politics when she met NDP leader Jack Layton. But she wasn't sure about entering politics, she said, until she found out about Layton's death. "I wasn't sure what I was waiting for ... it's a reminder when someone dies. The time is now."

Although Toronto Centre has been owned by the Liberals for a decade, Hollett points out that the nearby ridings of Trinity Spadina and Davenport, also once said to be safe Liberal seats, fell to the NDP in recent elections. "If you're standing in Toronto Centre and you look east and you look west, it's orange."

Asked about the Liberal focus on the middle class, Hollett said, "As someone who grew up in a very modest middle class upbringing, it's something I connect with." In Toronto Centre, she said, at the door, the issue comes back to joblessness, especially for youth, and especially for immigrants who came to Canada hoping to become members of the middle class.

-Toronto federal vacancy attracts media stars for Liberals, NDP (

Linda McQuaig


Twitter: @LindaMcQuaig

Official bio: "Journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig has developed a national reputation for challenging the establishment.

As a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she won a National Newspaper Award in 1989 for a series of articles which sparked a public inquiry into the activities of Ontario political lobbyist Patti Starr, and eventually led to Starr's imprisonment.

As a Senior Writer for Maclean's magazine, Linda (along with Ian Austen) probed the early business dealings of Conrad Black, uncovering how Black used political connections to avoid prosecution. An irate Black suggested on CBC radio that McQuaig should be "horsewhipped."

In 1991, she was awarded an Atkinson Fellowship for Journalism in Public Policy to study the social welfare systems in Europe and North America.

Linda has been a rare voice in the mainstream media challenging the prevailing economic and political dogma -- as a columnist in the financial pages of the National Post in the late 1990s, and since 2002, as an op-ed columnist in the Toronto Star.

She has also taken on the status quo in a series of controversial books - including seven national best-sellers - such as Shooting the Hippo (short-listed for the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction), The Cult of Impotence and It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet. Her most recent book (written with Osgoode Hall law professor Neil Brooks) is The Trouble with Billionaires: How the Super-Rich Hijacked the World and How We Can Take It Back.

Born and raised in Toronto, Linda has lived in her current Toronto Centre home for the past 13 years. She and her beloved daughter Amy, now 22 and just graduated from university, have recently adopted an adult rescue dog named Chance, who never leaves Amy's side.

Central to Linda's social life (and fitness regime) is a weekly, pickup basketball game whose core membership has been together since their student days at U of T. As a fan, however, Linda's emotions rise and fall most dramatically on the fortunes of the Jays."

Why she's running: "I've dedicated my professional life to writing and speaking publicly about issues that I care about deeply - countering income inequality and the austerity agenda, protecting and enhancing our public programs, tackling climate change and other environmental threats, and returning Canada to a constructive role in the world.

I now want to move from advocacy to action. After years as an observer and critic, I want to join a team actively fighting to build a Canada that is equal, inclusive and responsible - a Canada that is seriously under threat by Stephen Harper's Conservative government."


Pirate Party

Travis McCrea (acclaimed)


Twitter: @vote_travis

Official bio: Not available on website

Why he's running:

I have been the leader of the Pirate Party for a few months now, and the one thing I have learned from our members is they don't just want to sit on the sidelines and yell at the big parties to clean up their act, they want the Pirate Party to succeed. Our members are asking us to run in elections and they want us to win those elections. Until now, our campaigns talked about winning as if it were an unachievable joke.

Today, I announce my candidacy for the Toronto Centre riding and I am running to win. The odds are against me, the money is in the hands of the big parties, and the little guys are getting shut out from debates and media. Other countries Pirate Parties are making strong campaigns to win, and we can win too.

I ask that not only my Toronto Pirates support me, but I am asking for all Canadians to step up and support the underdog. Pirates can win, I can win... voter turn out is at a record low and all I need to do is get 50% of non-voters to turn out to vote for me and I would win the election.

Lets do this #votetravis #votepirate

As yet, there's been no word on who may be in the running for the Conservatives or the Green Party -- I've sent queries to those respective riding associations, however, and will let you know what, if anything, I hear back.

Tags: blackberry jungle, linda mcquaig, toronto centre

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