The Progressive Conservative Party has represented Scarborough-Centre at Queen’s Park for 26 of the 48 years since the electoral district was created in 1963.
The Liberals however have won the last two elections after Brad Duguid beat former Tory minister Marilyn Mushinski by 10,012 votes in the 2003 elections.
Retired school principal Carol Williams is seeking to the regain the bellwether riding for the Tories in next month’s provincial elections. The Ward 8 Catholic School trustee candidate in last year’s municipal elections lost by just 36 votes to Tobias Enverga.
“The key thing I learned from that campaign is the importance of listening to people,” said Williams who held a close six-vote lead with one poll to report last October. “In my previous life as a high school principal, that was part of my job. When I ran for trustee last year, people told me they were not looking for miracles from me. All they were asking was that their story is taken in a way that they could get help.
“That’s what I learned and that is why I am running for Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) because I feel that Dalton McGuinty has missed that particular part. There is a social moral contract that you have with the constituents who elected you to listen to them and to make decisions based on what they tell you their needs are. My goal is to listen intently and actively and to help.”
Comprising many ethnic groups, the riding is one of the most diverse in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with visible minorities comprising just over 60 per cent of the population of nearly 82,000 eligible voters.
“My aim is to get to as many households so I can make as much contact with voters as possible,” said Williams who was a child and youth worker before entering the teaching profession. “I have been knocking on doors since the end of May and what I find is that people are concerned about how they are going to keep up paying their bills and making ends meet.
“Many residents in this riding are living from pay cheque to pay cheque and so if they lose one, it’s a serious setback. Unemployment is also a big issue. I meet families where the father has recently lost his job and this provides tremendous stress on the household. These people need held. The additional taxes are eating away at their small pay cheques.”
Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Williams left the Caribbean island at age 13 and spent three years with her family in England before moving to Canada. She finished high school at Loretto Academy in Hamilton and completed her first degree at McMaster University – where she said her political activism was aroused – and a Masters in Educational Administration at the University of Toronto.
She served as vice-principal for three years at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough before becoming principal of St. Brother Andre Catholic High in Markham.
The daughter of a school principal dad and nurse mother who are both retired, Williams said she’s enjoying the campaign.
“I have lots of energy and an interest in serving my community,” said the Niagara University adjunct professor. “The run for trustee was a natural extension of what I was doing as an educator. The next step to serving in a public way was not difficult. It has been an enjoyable journey since I was nominated.”
In her spare time, Williams volunteers with the Cancer Society and Covenant House.