Glenn Coles is an MBA business consultant and holistic healer (a combination you don’t see every day). He has a plan to house the working poor in Toronto:

“What if the city of Toronto (and all surrounding regions) allocated a percentage of municipal-owned land for the building of housing units?” he writes on his website, “Instead of selling the land, it would be leased to condominium corporations that operate housing developments of 20 to 40 units. Because land costs have been eliminated, the main costs of construction could be held to $100,000 per unit. A markup of $25,000 would be used to cover infrastructure costs such as sewers and roads. Eligible families or individuals would buy these affordable houses, and would then be paying off a low-interest mortgage. Approximate mortgage costs to the homeowner would be about $700 per month for a three-bedroom house, which is less than the rent that some are paying.”

If that sounds reasonable to you, you can vote for Coles — he’s one of the 31 candidates for mayor. And if you’ve never heard of him, you’re not alone.

Perhaps the most commonly voiced complaint from the so-called fringe candidates is that they never have a chance to run a legitimate campaign because they lack money, connections and media attention. We in the big corporate media have already decided who the candidates are and they never have a chance. So you’ll never get to hear from Coles and his campaign to bring on a “New Age of Toronto” while financially supporting the Guardian Angels. Similarly, you’ll never find out about Nick Brooks, whose website ( advertises his “thoughts on being Mayor, my Art, my Photo Repair skills, my Resume and my company Filmgear.” Or Rod Muir, an environmental gadfly who says Miller’s broom will be replaced by his power washer ( Or Duri Naimji, whose 2003-website-is-still-good page at reveals his sophisticated mathematical mayoral formula: DUTY=FAIR+FIT=JOY==>DURI.

If you’ve been wondering what the big corporate media are keeping from you, you’ll have a chance to meet all of the mayoral candidates at the only event that welcomes them all to share the same stage: the Who Wants to Be Mayor? event at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on Oct. 4 at 7:30pm. Run by Citytv and Dave Meslin’s Who Runs This Town?, the night promises a full stage and some fresh ideas, if not good ones (see for more information).

And in response to those who claim the fix is in and that’s why the little guys never get a fair shake, here’s the question I’d ask: if you can’t inspire and motivate donors and volunteers enough to organize a campaign large enough to draw attention, why should anyone believe you’ll have it together enough to run the city?

A waste of money that should be an election issue
There isn’t much, politically, on which I agree with Councillor Rob Ford, but I share his sputtering rage at the taxpayer-financed campaigning that takes place through city councillors’ newsletters issued immediately prior to elections.

To pick on Councillor Bill Saundercook, since I live in his riding and he delivered one to my home (though nearly all the councillors do it): our tax money just paid for him to issue a four-page “Ward 13 Update” with his name in giant letters on the front. Here’s my count of what it contains:

Photos of Saundercook: 7

Number of times his name appears in headlines or banners: 5

Articles boasting about Saundercook’s accomplishments: 5

Articles containing information useful to constituents: 2.5

Ford put forward a motion to ban this kind of city-financed propaganda earlier this year and, predictably, it failed. Saundercook should be ashamed of himself. That one bit of self-serving spending certainly cost him my vote.

Graf-ing Jane’s chances
On Sept. 10, Jerry Grafstein — never a supporter of David Miller — said Jane Pitfield lacked “the spark” to be mayor and floated the idea of running for the job himself. On Sept. 26, Grafstein threw his support behind Pitfield saying that he would have done so earlier but he’s been busy because he’s a senator (which sounds like a punchline in itself).

But however late and conflicted this support may be, Grafstein and old-school Liberal pollster Martin Goldfarb certainly add organizational expertise and access to cash to Pitfield’s suddenly rolling campaign. We may get a semi-interesting race after all.

Originally published in Eye Weekly September 28, 2006.