An election dominated by discussion of “waste” at city hall has shifted the debate toward cuts to social programs, says Ward 18 candidate Kevin Beaulieu. And that means, no matter who the next mayor is, there is a battle brewing over the city’s community centres, child care and senior services.
“We’re in the mayor contest where the focus seems to be on cuts and freezes,” says Beaulieu. “As we head into the last week, what is a concern to a lot of people at the door is the mayoral race, and the direction that Rob Ford has taken the discussion, toward cuts, toward reductions to social services. It’s very much on the voters’ minds; it’s very much on my mind.”
While parks, public transit and libraries could also end up on the chopping block, programs specifically geared toward gay and trans Torontonians are especially vulnerable, he says.
Beaulieu points the early days of the Mike Harris Progressive Conservatives. When Harris became Ontario premier in 1995, one of the first cuts he made was to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans Youthline.
“Rob Ford has singled out homeless programs and shelters, queer programs and HIV/AIDS programs during his time as councillor, so we whether he wins or not, that’s the way he’s shifted the discussion,” says Beaulieu.
Beaulieu, a former assistant to councillor Adam Giambrone, is one of a handful of gay candidates running in the municipal election. He’s been endorsed by David Miller and neighbouring councillors (and Millerites) Adam Vaughan and Gord Perks.
Toronto goes to the polls Oct 25.