While campaigning last week in the heart of the Eglinton West business community, an area resident approached Liberal candidate Mike Colle seeking help to bring his wife to Canada from Jamaica.
“He said he didn’t know where to go and he didn’t have the necessary funds to take his matter to a consultant,” said Colle. “I directed him to my office, telling him I knew someone who would complete his application without charge.”
This citizen is just one of many constituents that Colle runs into on a daily basis seeking assistance for a number of issues and concerns.
“There is always a cause to fight for and I will never turn my back on anyone,” said the Eglinton-Lawrence MPP who was first elected to the provincial parliament in 1995.
Four years ago, Colle – one of the very few local politicians to support cricket – travelled to St. Lucia to cheer for Canada in the World Cup competition and he played an instrumental role in creating the Miss Lou Room at Harbourfront Centre in honour of Jamaican cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley who spent the last two decades of her life in the Greater Toronto Area.
Earlier this year, Colle introduced a private members bill in the Ontario legislature that addresses the challenges faced by sickle cell sufferers and – along with his son Josh who is a city councilor – is working with the City of Toronto to have an area park named in honour of late community activist Dudley Laws who died last March. He expects the dedication ceremony to take place before the end of the year.
“Dudley was part of this community, he was my neighbour and I know how much he and his causes meant,” said the former Minister of Citizenship & Immigration who is in his fifth election campaign.
Community means everything to Colle who has lived in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding for the past five decades.
Over the last 12 years, he has publicly recognized volunteers who are making significant contributions to the betterment of the riding which was created in 1999.
“These are our unsung heroes and it’s important they know the work they are doing is valuable and we recognize it,” said Colle. “I bring them together at a public function so they can see that they are not alone. These are the people who are doing outstanding work every day of the week.”
While several prominent Liberals are not running in the October 6 provincial elections, Colle said he never contemplated stepping aside.
“I am a marathon runner and I am not going to walk away from this battle,” said the 16-year veteran MPP who, up until two years ago, was a regular competitor in the annual Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon since 1982.
“The one thing that keeps driving me is the Eglinton subway. I want to make sure this job gets done. I can’t walk away from it,” he said.
The province has committed $8.2 billion to build the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) system which will be a continuous 25-kilometre line stretching from Black Creek Drive in the west to Scarborough Centre in the east with 26 stops.
Former Progressive Conservative premier, Mike Harris, scrapped an earlier plan for a subway along Eglinton Avenue when he was elected in 1995. That plan was initiated by Colle when he was chair of the Toronto Transit Commission.
Colle said the project slated for completion in 2020 will be a catalyst for urban renewal along Eglinton Ave.
“This transit system is more than just transportation,” Colle said. “The several stops along the way will help to revitalize those communities with new businesses among other things. The Eglinton strip will become an even better place to live, shop and socialize. This is an exercise in reshaping the middle of our city.”
In the last provincial elections, Colle won 43.1 per cent of the votes, beating Tory candidate Bernie Tanz by 2,226 votes.