Posts Tagged ‘glbt issues’
Continuing on from the previous news item, Xtra!‘s Rob Salerno considers the fate of Bob Rae’s riding of Toronto Centre, a riding that includes–among other neighbourhoods–the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
Rae has represented Toronto Centre as a Liberal since 2008, when he won a by-election to succeed retiring Liberal MP Bill Graham. He twice had hopes to win the federal party leadership dashed, in 2006 and again in 2008, following the resignation of Stéphane Dion and the installation of Michael Ignatieff as leader. He helmed the Liberal Party after Ignatieff lost his own seat in the 2011 election until Justin Trudeau was elected party leader this April.
Despite huge growth in the NDP vote in 2011, Toronto Centre has been considered one of the few safe Liberal seats remaining in the country, and party activists are saying they will fight hard to keep it in the fold.
Many Liberals are saying that the nomination battle is George Smitherman’s to lose. Smitherman, who is openly gay, represented the riding provincially from 1999 to 2010, when he resigned to launch his failed bid for mayor of Toronto. Smitherman says he is considering running but hasn’t made a firm decision yet.
“It’s certainly been the case that Christopher [Peloso, his husband] and I have been thinking of a return to politics at a national level, and the implications on our family,” Smitherman says. “It’s a lot like the opportunity when I began to run in 1998, to play a role in chasing Mike Harris out of Ontario. I look forward to the opportunity to chase Stephen Harper out of Ottawa.”
Other names being mentioned as possible candidates for the nomination include Pascal Dessureault, who is chair of the 519 Church Street Community Centre and a former member of the board of the Liberal Party’s Quebec wing, and political columnist Zach Paikin. Both acknowledge that they’ve considered running at some time, but neither would confirm that they’re interested in Rae’s seat.
Andrea Houston’s Xtra! article noting the disappearance of three queer men of South Asian heritage over the past several years from the Church and Wellesley area–Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi, and Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan–makes for worrisome, and sad, reading. While Navaratnam was out, Faizi and Kayhan were both married heterosexually with children, in the closet. This may have left the latter two vulnerable.
Being “out-ish,” especially for some new Canadians, is not uncommon. People who come to Canada from homophobic countries often take years to venture out of the closet, if they ever do, he says. “It’s all part of the process,” he adds.
Faizi has a similar family situation to Kayhan. His sister-in-law Nijiba tells Xtra that his family is very worried. She knew nothing about the connection to the Village. She says Faizi has a wife and two daughters who live in Mississauga.
[. . .]
Harris says police have done an extensive background search on Navaratnam, including accessing “numerous judicial authorizations” to try to determine his whereabouts, such as immigration, but have discovered no leads from that.
“The key connection for us is that all three disappeared from the Church and Wellesley area, they have family and friends who are concerned about them, and everything that we’ve done from the onset, there is nothing that tells us where these three people are,” she says.
[. . . El-Farouk] Khaki says police should continue to expand the search by looking at cold cases and outstanding missing-person reports, in Toronto areas outside the Village and beyond. If these three men are indeed connected, Khaki says, it’s important for investigators to understand the cultural sensitivities and discrimination that explain why men like Kayhan and Faizi live double lives. With that in mind, it’s possible other missing-persons cases could be connected as well.
“I don’t think it’s problematic that police are looking at all possibilities, but I think they need to cast their net a little bit wider,” he says. “Start looking to see if other people have been reported missing from other areas. If there’s people connected to this community and also living closeted lives, the person who reports them missing could change how it is investigated.”
Wonkman blogs about why it matters that Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford has refused, for a third year, to attend Toronto Pride. A decade ago, when GLBT rights were that much less mainstream, suburban conservative Mel Lastman went.
Mel went because he was a tremendous baby-kisser. Mel was never happier than when he was shaking hands and meeting new people and mixing with his constituents. Parades and street festivals were incredible fun.
But more importantly, Mel went because Mel recognized that he was mayor of the entire city.
Not just the parts which voted for him, and not just the parts which he found appealing.
One of Mel’s main goals as mayor was to bring the city together: to promote inclusiveness and mutual understanding, to promote and protect minority cultures, to foster an environment where people from all over the world can feel at home.
And if occasionally he had to something he found distasteful or uncomfortable to reach that goal? Mel would pull on his big-boy pants and get it over with.
[. . .]
This was one of the pivotal moments in Mel’s career as mayor. It set the tone for the rest of his term in office. It was a moment when he proved something important to his constituents: all that talk about “inclusiveness” and “mayor of the whole city” was more than just idle political chatter. He was going to put himself out there, he was going to make a good-faith effort to engage with minority cultures on their own terms, and he was going to use his power as mayor to encourage the values he espoused, rather than cynically ditching them after election night.
Mel was not a perfect mayor—but he got this part right. No matter what you thought about his politics and his policies, we all knew that he genuinely loved this city and its people. It’s part of why he absolutely roared to victory in the 2000 mayoral election.
Mel started with a city split nearly in two along ideological and geographic lines, and he turned it into a unified, cohesive and coherent metropolis. He healed the rifts which he himself had inadvertently created. And he left the city more united, more even and more inclusive than he’d found it.
Would that Ford was a tenth of Lastman.