A citizens’ group is going after Kyle Rae, the city’s only openly gay councillor, in the next election for what they say are his pro-development views.
But another councillor whois being targeted says the group is trying to remove progressive voices from council.
Rae, who has represented the ward — which includes the gay village — since 1991, is being targeted in the November election by the Coalition For Municipal Change (CMC), an umbrella group of residents and ratepayers groups, mostly from the Yonge-Eglinton area. The group is also targeting councillor Howard Moscoe for his support as TTC chair of an untendered $700-million bid from Bombardier to build subway cars.
“We sort of heard from a lot of people in [Kyle’s] community that they’re deeply disappointed in him, that he doesn’t really care about their views,” says CMC cochair Michael Visser.
“And as someone in his ward told me, ‘There appears never to be a development proposal that Kyle doesn’t like.’ If you look at his campaign finances, there’s a lot of money from developers. He’ll essentially support anything.”
Rae says the group seems determined to oppose any development in an attempt to protect their own property.
“They think every time there’s an office building or condo built in downtown, it means there’ll be one built in their area. I could give you a list of projects I opposed. I get no credit for opposing projects, just blame for supporting ones.”
Rae says CMC has no right telling voters in his ward who to support. “They’re not my constituents. It’s almost like the Russian politburo telling the people of Czechoslovakia who they should choose for their parliament.”
Visser says CMC has a member from Rae’s riding and that they are not dictating to anybody.
“We’re not telling anyone what to do. We’re certainly encouraging people to think about what their councillor does.”
The CMC has been running ads in community newspapers seeking candidates to oppose Rae and Moscoe. The ads are the same approach the group adopted in the 2003 election in fighting 30-year council veteran Anne Johnston, after she supported a condo project in her ward at Yonge and Eglinton over the objections of local residents.
Karen Stintz answered the ad in 2003, and ended up beating Johnston by more than 2,000 votes.
As chair of the Toronto Board Of Health, Johnston had fought for funding for AIDS prevention and safer-sex programs. She was also council’s seniors advocate and a strong supporter of city arts programs.
Moscoe told the Toronto Star that the CMC was a “Tory front group who are basically trying to destroy the balance of council.”
Rae says he doesn’t know the CMC well enough to know if they have another agenda.
“It could be about progressives. But to my knowledge, it’s just about development. They want to see nothing out their kitchen windows.”
Visser says the group is ideologically neutral.
“Our group consists of people who range right across the spectrum from left to right. I think most would describe themselves as being solidly in the middle.”
Rae says the group has offered no stands on any issues other than development.
“They’ve never raised an issue about AIDS, homelessness, drug policy, poverty. They’re the one-issue candidate. The last thing the Coalition For Municipal Change supports is change.”
Six candidates have currently declared their intention of running against Rae in the November election: Rob Bezanson, Susan Gapka, Cam Johnson, Gary Leroux, Chris Reid and Daniel Young.
Visser says the CMC has not yet decided to endorse any candidate.