June 13, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
Councillor Janet Davis announced at the East York Civic Centre on Wednesday morning that she will not seek re-election. The veteran politician endorsed Diane Dyson, the Director of Policy at Woodbine, to be the next councillor for the new Ward 5.
Davis has been in office since 2003. She is known as a tireless advocate for child care and progressive policies, and is often found standing up and speaking in council chambers for the principles and rules that dictate how things are meant to work at city hall. This is in fact the reason why Davis’ announcement was staged off city property so it didn’t use city resources in the first place.
“I respect the policies and rules that apply to the conduct of councillors. We have a code of conduct and I believe in it. It calls on us to uphold the highest standards of integrity, and I have always tried very hard to make sure that I have met that standard,” Davis said.“That means following the rules about elections at city hall.”
“It’s why we were standing on the sidewalk, also, at East York Civic Centre,” Dyson said in a media availability held on the sidewalk after registering her nomination papers to be the councillor for the new Ward 5.
“There was a period when breaking the rules didn’t seem to matter. When the Fords were here and it’s hard because there are only so many tools that we have here to keep councillors who flout the rules in line.”
At the announcement, Davis said part of the reason she is not seeking re-election is she wants to spend more time with her family, and although she has no immediate plans for work or volunteering, she said she expects to return to advocating and organizing around issues she is passionate about, especially under the new provincial Progressive Conservative government.
“Many of the services that our city [and] residents need that we value here are partially funded by the provincial government. We are reliant on the continuation of funding for transit, child care, long-term care, many services here, and I think if we see any significant cuts, [residents in this ward and across the city will rally] to make sure that those cuts don’t happen to vital city services.”
Davis also spoke about local issues close to her heart.
“I have always, obviously, been an advocate for child care and education issues. I’m also very very interested in infrastructure… we have a very serious problem with a combined sewer system in the city of Toronto and polluted harbour and rivers that are so critical to our city. We have six watersheds that are seriously polluted and that we have a plan for, and needs to be implemented and so I’m quite interested in working on water issues as well.”
Asked about the number one thing Davis has learned in the 15 years as city councillor, Davis says, “That relationships are important around the table with your colleagues. That doing your homework and developing a strategy to achieve the end goal is really, really important.
“Doing the research and finding your allies both externally and at council, working that initiative through committee, staff, and then onto council, in a way that ensures success – that’s really important work.”
Dyson has taken a leave from her job as director of research and public policy at WoodGreen Community Services.
Asked how she thinks this experience will make her a good city councillor if elected, Dyson calls herself “a bit of a policy geek.”
“I believe that public policy is the way that we as a community agree that we will work together… There’s really good work that’s being done here at city hall and other orders of government and I want to help move that forward,” Dyson says.
“I want to step forward and get on council and vote to do the right thing.”