Councillor Paul Sutherland has decided to jump on board the Tory train seeking to become member of provincial parliament.
The longtime North York representative is running as an MPP in the riding of Don Valley East, which is the ward he represents on the local level.
Sutherland was pursued for a year by the Ernie Eves government to be their man provincially in the up-coming election.
"It was the most difficult (professional) decision I’ve had to make," says Sutherland. "But now that I have decided I am very excited," says the councillor for Ward 33.
In a twist of fate, Sutherland, will be up against Liberal MPP David Caplan in the competition for your vote. Sutherland lost by 1,000 votes, the only other time he ran provincially in 1995 against David’s mother Elinor Caplan. She stepped down in 1997 and her son, David won in a provincial by-election, was re-elected (in 1999) and still represents the riding today.
"I am running to be part of the new government. It just so happens that David is there," says Sutherland.
The NDP will be holding a candidates nomination meeting on April 15. Their only other candidate for Don Valley East, at present, is Murphy Brown.
"It will be a good race. The first time I ran (provincially) in 1995 was when the (Tory) Common Sense Revolution came out. Back then, the province was $11 billion in debt, jobs were fleeing the province and we had over one million people living on welfare. It was terrible," comments Sutherland.
"It is proof that the policies are working. Hard choices were made, but, one million more people are working now (then in 1995)," says Sutherland. "I think the public will recognize that in the end."
Creating jobs, paying down the debt and tax cuts were a big part of the latest budget handed down in March by Premier Eves.
‘I hope to be in that bridge position to help the government understand what the city needs.’ — Don Valley East MPP Candidate Paul Sutherland
Some criticized the Ontario budget for failing to deliver a "new deal" for the cities. There was no portion of the gas tax for local transit, no money for affordable housing and no portion of the hotel tax for tourism.
"I had a talk with the premier and he’s committed to coming up with a new deal for the cities," Sutherland says. "There also needs to be accountability around any new funds and what involvement, if any, there will be (financially) with the federal government."
Sutherland says he will advocate for the needs of the city.
"We need a bridge between the province and Toronto — someone with knowledge of city issues and the budget," he emphasizes. "Sometimes they (Ontario government) are not aware of what the (city) issues are. It might be in the media but that’s not the same thing," he says. "I hope to be in that bridge position to help the government understand what the city needs."
Sutherland is putting all his eggs in the provincial basket. If he loses in the next Ontario election, it is unlikely he will run for council in the Nov. 10 municipal election.
If he is not elected as an MPP, he "will most likely go back into the private sector."
"People will tell me I should run (for council), but I have left politics before. In 1997, when the city was amalgamating, I gave up running for council to (help with the transition of forming six cities into one)."
If he becomes the next MPP for Don Valley East, there are a few ways to fill the remaining months left until a new councillor can be elected to take his place. A spring provincial election, is likely to be called after the April 30 thrown speech. However, nothing is certain, and it could be called for the fall instead.
"If it is called in May or June at that stage, council can fill (my vacancy) with an interim appointment or allow it to stay vacant with a care-taker position," he says.
He suggests that, for example, Don Valley East Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34) could handle issues for both wards until the municipal election.
If elected provincially, Sutherland will represent a riding twice the size of his city ward.
"I am hoping to start campaigning soon. I am automatically out in my ward now as a councillor, so I hope to be in the south more — the part I don’t represent now," says Sutherland.
Sutherland is staying on as a councillor while campaigning as MPP candidate for the PC party.
"During my campaign, I will not take any pay as a councillor, even though I am entitled to," explains Sutherland. "I will still do the work I was elected to do. It’s a flat out (busy) time. But I still have staff to help with the day-to-day work."
Sutherland started as a councillor in the former city of North York in 1988 and served as Deputy Mayor to Mel Lastman for four years.
Sutherland grew up in Don Valley East in Victoria Village. "People still remember me from my days as a paper boy."
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