Ex-mayoral candidate, longtime city staffer favourites to win Scarborough Ward 44 appointment

Coun. Neethan Shan loses his title as Toronto's newest councillor this week, and while he's OK with that he’s less impressed with how his colleagues are going about filling the vacant seat in Ward 44.

Mayor John Tory not publicly supporting a candidate, but ex-rival in the mix

Mayor John Tory, centre, isn't saying who he'd like to see win the Ward 44 appointment. Coun. Neethan Shan, right, says he would still prefer a byelection. (John Rieti/CBC)

Coun. Neethan Shan loses his title as Toronto's newest councillor this week, and while he's OK with that he's less impressed by how his colleagues are going about filling the vacant seat in Ward 44.

There are 48 candidates who want to represent Scarborough East, which has been without a councillor since Ron Moeser's death last spring.

However, some councillors are already picking sides, with former mayoral candidate David Soknacki and longtime city staffer Jim Hart both picking up endorsements from Scarborough councillors.

Shan says he's trying to stay out of the active lobbying at city hall.

"This is not a democratic process," Shan told CBC Toronto, noting he voted against appointing a councillor (Shan was on the losing end of a final vote of 24-13).

"This is supposed to be a fair process where the councillors are sitting and hearing from every applicant and then deciding who the right person is — not necessarily going with the political alignment of things. That's why I don't trust this kind of decision making."

Candidates include politicians, self-employed designers

The candidates, listed at the bottom of this story, come from a wide set of backgrounds. Some have run for political office before, and Corneliu Chisu is a former member of parliament who once represented Pickering-Scarborough East (his name was mentioned by at least one councillor this week).

In addition to politicians, there are also community leaders, former journalists, lawyers, bureaucrats, self-employed graphic designers and one candidate who notes his training as a baseball umpire.

While many candidates have lived in Scarborough for their entire lives, others moved there from Guyana, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere.

Shan says he'd like to see council tap into some of that diversity and hire "a skilled person who is qualified but also, possibly, a person of colour, or a woman, or an equity-seeking community member."

Mayor says he's not worried about former rival being in the mix

Mayor John Tory declined to say who he's supporting when pressed by reporters, but denied he's worried about Soknacki's presence.

"I'm worried about one thing and one thing only, which is making sure that council selects the very best person," Tory said,

The mayor then listed a series of attributes that seem to favour Hart – including, a "preferred situation" where the candidate lives in the ward (Hart does, Soknacki lives nearby but not in Ward 44). When a reporter asked about that, Tory responded, "No matter what I said, you would parse it in some way or other."

Only 20 of the 48 candidates vying for the job currently live in the ward. Several Toronto city councillors don't live in the wards they represent.

Tory also says he wants the winning candidate to focus on the issues Moeser's office was working on, including work on Port Union Road, Scarborough's lakefront, the Highland Creek treatment plant and Rouge Park.

Will the Scarborough subway be a factor?

The late Ron Moeser supported the Scarborough subway, leading Coun. Chin Lee to suggest his replacement should as well. (John Rieti/CBC)

Coun. Chin Lee, meanwhile, says he's looking for a candidate that shares Moeser's political stance — something that would include backing the Scarborough subway project.

"Whoever gets elected would, I hope, will be on the same path," he said.

One thing Tory, Lee and Shan agree on is that whoever is appointed shouldn't run in the 2018 municipal election. Shan says while there's nothing to stop them from doing so, it would provide an unfair edge.

City council makes its pick at a special meeting on Wednesday.

Here's a full list of the candidates running for the post:

  • Mukaioh Mark Balack
  • James Borland
  • Norman Bradley
  • Alan Burke
  • Molly Brown
  • Corneliu Chisu
  • Kevin Clarke
  • Axcel Cocon
  • Michael Coll
  • Kirk Cormier
  • Daniel Cubellis
  • Domenic Cubellis
  • Sudha Datta
  • Lorelei Derera
  • Tom Deluca
  • Naren Doobay
  • Itohan (Patience) Evbagharu
  • Roger Francis
  • Khamy Ganeshathasan
  • Jasper Ghori
  • Chris Goethel
  • Vito Greto
  • Jim Hart
  • Kazi Hoque
  • George Jacobs
  • Virginia Jones
  • Mujeeb Khan
  • Walayat Khan
  • Kevin Kipping
  • Tatiana Kouzminyk
  • Dino Leonardo Lombardi
  • Cheryl Lewis-Thurab
  • Robert McDermott
  • David Mitchelson
  • Mohammed Mirza
  • Sameem Mohamed
  • Penn Pentcho Penev
  • John Porter
  • Worrick Russell
  • Mohammad Shabani
  • William Sheehan
  • Peter Sialtsis
  • Muhammad Siddiqui
  • Bobby S. Singh
  • Curtis Smith
  • David Soknacki
  • Kiruthika Thayaparan
  • Suthan Thulakawathan

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.

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