Candidate drops out after Ward 32 debate
Neil Sinclair is packing it in to support Mary-Margaret McMahon in her efforts to unseat Sandra Bussin
**Update** According to several news reports, Ward 32 candidate Bruce Baker has also dropped out of the race, and thrown his support to McMahon. The announcement came just two days before voters head to the polls. -City Editor.
With only five days left until election day, Ward 32 council candidate Neil Sinclair has dropped out to back Mary-Margaret McMahon in hopes of unseating embattled incumbent councillor, Sandra Bussin.
He follows in the footsteps of candidate Martin Gladstone, who also dropped out and threw support to McMahon.
Sinclair was by no means a frontrunner in this race, but support for McMahon is another blow to Bussin, who’s fighting to keep her seat.
Sinclair’s announcement came the morning after a lively Ward 32 debate at Kimbourne Park United Church.
Controversies surrounding Bussin’s previous term were addressed repeatedly during the nearly two-hour debate, including the decision to put a TTC yard in Ashbridges Bay and her choice to use her council budget to launch a libel lawsuit against a community publication.
However, it was the 20-year exclusive rights deal for the Boardwalk Pub on the eastern Beaches that caused some of the most heated discussion.
“I think I know more about this issue than anybody — I’m the guy getting sued for asking all the right questions,” said candidate Bruce Baker, to a chorus of cheers and laughter.
Baker is being sued by Boardwalk Pub owner George Foulidis for libel regarding previous comments on the sole-source deal.
But Baker said Foulidis, who attended the debate, didn’t do anything wrong by approaching the city with an unsolicited proposal to operate the landmark restaurant for another 20 years. Baker said it was council, and more directly, Bussin, who made an error in judgment by supporting it back in 2006.
“When Sandra Bussin in September of 2006 went to committee calling this a ‘mom-and-pop’ operation and said let’s deal with this (Tuggs proposal), it was wrong.”
McMahon, who had many supporters at the debate, added fuel to the fire.
“Was this a good deal for Ward 32 and the city? Definitely not,” she said. “Single-source bids are not democratic. The bottom line is, it should have gone out to tender.”
Standing her own ground, Bussin defended the deal, calling it good for the city, and highlighting the fact that she did not vote when the city accepted the proposal this past spring.
“It would be nice if the facts actually got out there — it isn’t less rent it’s actually much more rent (the city will receive from Foulidis).”
Candidates also spoke out against the TTC yard at Ashbridges Bay, saying it’s not something the community needs.
Last year, the TTC selected the land at the southeast corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and Leslie Street as their prime location to build a proposed $345 million facility for new light rail vehicles travelling daily to and from the area.
“It’s not the right place, it never has been the right place,” said candidate Keith Begley, the board chair of the Ted Reeve arena and lifelong Beach resident.
“What is it going to do to our neighbourhoods? It’s already tough to get out of the Beach … there is a better place and the city knows it, they just don’t have time to find it.”
Rounding out the field was Brad Feraday, who left his job as a national union leader to run for council.
Though she saved most of her attacks for Bussin, McMahon took a swipe at Feraday, pointing out that she had taken six months leave from her job to run her campaign. Feraday, who announced earlier in the evening that he had left his job three months prior to run, responded by saying he was the sole breadwinner in his household and was running a line of credit.
Feraday was also the only Ward 32 hopeful who openly backed a mayoral candidate. Bussin indicated she was waiting to announce her pick, while the others responded none when the question of mayoral support was posed.
“Once again, in three of three debates I’m the only one who will pick somebody,” Feraday said. “It’s Smitherman.”
Ward 32 candidates Albert Castells and Kieron Pope did not attend the debate.
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