Member of Provincial Parliament Mitzie Hunter was reminded last week that the level of support she received from the Liberal party hierarchy in the run-up to last summer’s by-election in which she was elected to represent Scarborough-Guildwood constituents will not be the same for the next Ontario elections scheduled to be held no later than October 2015.
The Scarborough-Guildwood Provincial Liberal Association (SGPLA) selected Hunter as the official candidate to represent the riding in the next election.
In the feature address at the nomination meeting, author and arts patron Arlene Perly Rae told Hunter the next campaign will be different.
“If the by-election was Hollywood, the next election is going to be more like a home movie,” said Rae, the wife of former Ontario Premier Bob Rae. “The Premier (Kathleen Wynne) will not be able to come to this riding regularly to support you because she and others are also running to win their seats. This time, you will need money and volunteers to make things happen and you will have to do the hard work on the ground.”
In last August’s provincial by-elections, Hunter secured 8,852 votes to lead Conservative Party candidate and real estate agent, Ken Kirupa, who received 7,606 votes and former Toronto Transit Commission chair and New Democrat, Adam Giambrone, with 7,010.
Rae is confident that Hunter will again receive the support of the riding in the next elections.
“Your candidate is not new to public service because she did it with CivicAction and United Way where we met,” Rae said. “That’s a great training ground and place to begin and to prepare one for a political career. In addition, Mitzie is a dynamo with enormous energy.”
Long-time Scarborough-Guildwood member and former SGPLA president Ian Daly nominated Hunter who was the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance chief executive officer prior to becoming the third consecutive Jamaican-born to represent the riding’s constituents.
“Mitzie is one of the new candidates who have energized the party,” he said. “She’s already shown she’s an election winner by winning the by-election and she has made a big impact in her eight months as an MPP.”
Two months ago, Hunter tabled a private member’s bill that would allow Toronto to implement a ranked-ballot system for electing members of council. Last month, Bill 166 passed second reading on a voice vote and it’s on its way to the standing committee for social policy for social review.
“It’s scheduled for public hearings on May 13 and then there has to be an opportunity for a clause by clause review,” said Hunter. “It will then go back to the floor for a third reading, and should that pass, it will receive Royal Assent.”
Ranked-ballot voting would ensure mayors and councillors are elected with a true majority and eliminate vote splitting and talk of strategic voting.
“I am so glad she tabled that bill,” said SGPLA president Lawrence Dawkins who seconded her nomination. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
One of two Blacks in the Ontario legislature, Hunter is the parliamentary assistant to Minister of Community & Social Services Ted McMeekin, a member of the finance & economic and government committees and a special committee on developmental services.
A graduate of Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto Scarborough campus with a political science degree, Hunter worked at Bell Canada as a regional director for five years before becoming president of SMART Toronto, an information community and technology industry firm.
She spent seven years at Goodwill Industries of Toronto, rising to the position of vice president, external relations & corporate secretary and two years as Toronto Community Housing’s first chief administrative officer, where she led the organization’s strategic and business support functions, including corporate communications, strategic planning, human resources and information technology, prior to joining CivicAction in January 2012.
Hunter served on the board of directors of Housing Services Inc., TV Ontario, The Yonge St. Mission and on the board of trustees of United Way of Greater Toronto before succeeding former Health Promotion & Sport and Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best who resigned as an MPP in June 2012 after serving for six years.