Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Mitzie Hunter had planned to take a few days off to spend the Christmas holidays with family and friends.
That plan was however aborted when the ice storm that led to power outages for days across the Greater Toronto Area, struck the weekend before Christmas.
Her constituency – Scarborough-Guildwood – was one of the hardest hit areas.
“What makes us unique as a community, which is our beautiful trees, ended up being what in the end caused so much damage,” said Hunter at her first levee last Sunday at Cedarbrae Library.”
Many residents live in high-rise subsidized apartments that were severely affected by the storm.
“I worked for Toronto Community Housing (TCH) , so I know we have our most vulnerable people in those units and we have to stand up for them,” added Hunter who was TCH’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. “I reached out to Toronto Hydro and the city manager and told them they had to prioritize this community because they are the hardest hit and we have very vulnerable residents that need power. Within four hours of those meetings, four buildings representing about 5,000 units of housing had power.”
Nearly 100 constituency members braved the snow and cold weather to attend the levee.
“I wanted to have this event right at the beginning of the New Year,” said Hunter, a former Goodwill Industries of Toronto vice-president. “When you go through a by-election, there are so many people that help you get elected. It’s really important that they feel appreciated and thanked. This is really an opportunity to bring them together and thank them for their support.”
A past Greater Toronto Civic Action chief executive officer, Hunter won the Scarborough-Guildwood by-election last August, becoming the third consecutive Jamaican-born female Liberal to represent the riding at Queen’s Park.
“Entering the House for the first time on September 9 was a very proud moment for me,” she told her constituents. “My mother, younger brother, close friends and people who mentored and supported me over the years were there and I was welcomed by all sides of the House. At that moment, I remembered why I ran for public office and that was to be a strong voice for the community. I have made many member statements in the last four months which all reflect the work of this community.”
Hunter paid tribute to her grandmother Eva Hunter who died in a Scarborough Hospital two days short of her 87th birthday on August 16. She was buried in Jamaica a month later.
“She held my hand and brought me to this country to join the rest of my family when I was just four years old,” Hunter, who has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, recalled. “She saw the election win on August 1 and called the next day to congratulate me and say how proud she was of what I had achieved. When I entered the House, I felt her presence and I knew she was with me.”
A parliamentary assistant to minister of community & social services, Ted McMeekin, Hunter is a member of the finance & economic and government committees and a special committee on developmental services.