It Happened to Me Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

All-Candidates Meeting: Opening Statements

The following is based on my handwritten notes of the the opening

statements. I’m wearing my “citizen journalist” hat here, which means

that I have attempted, to the best of my ability, to provide an honest

account of what I saw and heard at the meeting. Any of my personal asides will appear in red italics.

The candidates present at the meeting were, from left to right (physically, not politically):

  • Terry Parker, Marijuana Party
  • Rob Rishchynski, Green Party
  • Peggy Nash, New Democratic Party
  • Jurij Klufas, Conservative Party
  • Sarmite “Sam” Bulte, Liberal Party
  • Lorne Gershuny, Marxist-Leninist Party

Prior to the meeting, a random speaking order for the opening statements was determined. The candidates were introduced in that order, in which the Marijuana Party candidate was last.

Big group chuckle after mention of the “Marijuana Party”. I sort of feel bad for the guy — the audience has pretty much dismissed him before he’s opened his mouth — but then figure (a) he used to this treatment and (b) he can unwind with a spliff afterwards.

Jurij Klufas, Conservative Party:

  • My party has run a solid campaign , announcing policies that reflect issues that matter
  • People these days are working harder, paying more taxes and finding it harder to save money
  • In the past 12 years, the Liberals have shown no new ideas and have been full of corruption, and in this campaign, it’s been nothing but more promises
  • What the Conservatives will deliver:   

    • Federal accountability act
    • Reduce the GST
    • Get tough on crime
    • Childcare money for familes to spend as they see fit
    • Fair immigration policies
    • Guaranteed limits on patient wait times
    • Goverment that is “accountable, responsible, affordable”

Sam Bulte, Liberal Party


  • Bloor West Village [the neighbourhood in which the meeting is taking place, and presumably a lot of the people present] is a destination — not only for the people of Toronto, but for tourists from all over, who come to see High Park and the shops and restaurants on Bloor Street

  • Many Liberal initiatives:       

    • Lowered tuition fees for higher education

    • Money for early learning initiatives

    • More doctors

    • Programs to assist the elderly so that they can continue to live at home

    • Sat on task force on women entrepreneurs: extended maternity benefits for self-employed women

    • We’ve created 500,000 new jobs, most are full-time and unemployment is the lowest in a long time

    • Created a new deal for Canada’s cities

  • Laundry list of achievements and comittees/task forces she’s been on  [too quick for me to get down]

Peggy Nash, New Democratic Party

  • [Lots of applause]

  • Decided to run for the first time in the 2004 election, lost only by 3000 votes

  • Toronto is taken for granted — it is in decline

  • Involved in all sorts of things       

    • Medicare
    • Child care
    • Observer for Ukraine elections
    • Initiatives on violence against women


  • Who can best represent this community? Someone with ethics, someone you can trust

  • Liberals: You get promises. Conservatives: You get tax cuts, but those don’t buy social services

  • NDP will:       

    • Protect and expand public medicare           
    • Fight gun crime
    • Help newcomers to Canada

  • Contrast with Liberal broken promises and the Conservative plan to turn the clock back

Lorne Gershuny, Marxist-Leninist Party

  • [Got more applause than Bulte! Considering that the neighbourhood is full of Ukrainians who came here to get away from a Marxist state, you gotta admire this guy for trying.]

  • Good joke about how one party says that the other party’s promises are just promises, but their promises are not

  • There is no mechanism for accountability, no way to ensure promises are kept

  • The system is outdated and comes from the days before universal sufferage, when only the privileged few had a say

  • The citizens should decide what should be discussed

  • We should have the right to recall elected representatives

  • Current climate: that ordinary people don’t have the right to determine foreign policy — that it’s only the province of a few people

  • The US is leading a war of aggression against sovereign states; the Canadian government is putting on a “fraudulent front of humanitarianism”

Rob Rishchynski, Green Party   

  • The Green Party represents a positive choice for real solutions proven to work all over the world

  • Green Party successes as various gov’t levels in Germany, New Zealand, Mexico and even the US (at the local government level)

  • My campaign has three parts —    
    • What I believe
    • What the Green Party believes
    • Your involvement


  • The Green Party is not solely concerned with the environment, but the enviroment is “the lens through which we view public policy”

  • For any initiative, we ask:   

    • Is it fiscally responsible?
    • Is it socially progressive?
    • Is it environmentally sustainable?

Terry Parker, Marijuana Party

  • This guy mumbles rather than speaks. It’s really hard to make out what he’s saying. A few suppressed chortles from the audience. In my notebook, since I already used “M” to denote statements by the Marxist-Leninist party, I used “WEED” to denote this guy’s statements.
  • Prohibition kills

  • Marijuana: many medicinal uses — cancer patients and other people in pain are being denied it

  • Prohibition led to our increased crime and gun violence

  • The government is behind a lot of anti-marijuana propaganda

  • Hemp is a renewable resource with all kinds of uses

  • Roots of anti-marijuana propaganda: bigotry and racism

  • Many environmental and economic benefits to marijuana

  • We could collect $2 billion in tax revenues from marijuana

2 replies on “All-Candidates Meeting: Opening Statements”

Re: Green Party successes in Mexico.

The “Green” party in Mexico is just a name. In reality, it’s a business owned and controlled by one family. It’s like a dynasty there. The “successes” have only happened because they do coalitions with bigger parties and that’s how they have managed to get the minimal number of candidates in congress and not lose their registry. They are all about power and not about being green at all. They just use that name but are not interested in the environment.

Hi Maria –

I do not know the intimate details of the Green Party of Mexico’s make-up or strategy. My point was that they are elected there. Mexicans, given a choice, have voted Green.

Rob Rishchynski

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