Why I am running for Toronto City Council

by Peter D’Gama

I am the Socialist Action candidate in the October 22 municipal election in Toronto because I want to bring a Workers’ Agenda to City Hall. For the past decade I have seen inequality grow while corporate profits, particularly those of the financial sector, rise astronomically. Life for workers has become more precarious as we have to settle for jobs paying minimum wage and work long hours just to meet the high cost of housing, both rental and for home ownership. Many workers have been pushed into precarious economic situations, which lands some on the streets.

This situation is made worse by capitalist politicians preaching cuts to social and community services and for privatization of public assets such as mass transit. I ran in 2010 as an independent socialist to protest the militarization of the city during the G20 Summit. Today I am running as a member of Socialist Action — for a Workers’ Agenda that is anti-capitalist, that seeks to take back public space and assets controlled by private interests.

The city, as radical geographer David Harvey famously said, is a site for class struggle. While we are not yet in a revolutionary period reminiscent of the Paris Commune of 1871 or the Russian Revolution of 1917 when workers took control away from bourgeois interests, we do see that socialism is becoming more relevant to young workers seeking to escape the traps of the capitalist mode of production.

I am running to stop landlords and large real estate investment trusts from making huge profits at the expense of renters who face whopping increases and deteriorating living conditions. Housing is a human right, not a privilege. As such we have to prioritize human needs, not private profits, by imposing strong rent controls and by building public housing massively. We need a housing agency that acts as a developer utilizing city owned land and by nationalizing a construction company to facilitate rapid building of affordable housing. Socialist Action aims to stop the sharp decline of investment in public transit and to build Light Rapid Transit and a downtown relief subway line, while at the same demanding free and accessible public transit.

As a long-time paralegal and community organizer in Etobicoke North, I am running not to be another seat holder, but to be a worker/activist who opposes neoliberal policies on council and on the street. I pledge if elected to take only 50% of a Councillor’s salary and spend the rest on community organizing to mobilize workers in Etobicoke North against anti-worker policies such as reduction of minimum wage, cancellation of LRTs and advocate for a just energy transition and the creation of green jobs. That includes putting solar panels on the roofs of city-owned buildings, making sure that green jobs are unionized, and ensuring that projects come under democratic workers’ and community control.

I stand with the theatrical stage workers represented by IATSE Local 58 and against the union-busting antics of Exhibition Place and City Council. Stop contracting-out. End the lock-out. Defend decent jobs. Improve wages, benefits and pensions. Organize the unorganized. Workers make the city run. Workers should run the city.