May 2, 2017
Q & A with City Councillor Shelley Carroll
On May 2, 2017 City Councillor Shelley Carroll was appointed the provincial Liberal candidate for Don Valley North Riding for the 2018 election. We caught up with Carroll on Tuesday to ask her about the announcement, the election, and whose side will she take at council when it comes to the spats between Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Signal Toronto: Councillor, any comment about the news of your appointment as the provincial candidate for Don Valley North riding?
Carroll: I’m very honoured by the surprise. It means that I have the confidence of the Premier, that she’s using one of her appointments to make sure that I can get started right away. We’ve been working on this since October. Knocking on doors every night and twice every day on the weekend. So I think the confidence is built over time in my work in Don Valley North. Now we can get on with preparing for 2018.
Signal Toronto: Why the change? What’s motivating your desire to move to Queen’s Park?
Carroll: I’ve been representing – really about 70% of Don Valley North is Ward 33. I’ve been representing there for 14 years. It’s a really key jurisdiction in terms of the city. It really represents the growth that the whole city is experiencing and how we deal with that and make a liveable community. And the policy areas that I’ve delved in – really the next step is to go to the provincial level of that policy. They have to complement one another. Thus far we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that. I’d like to delve into the provincial end of that a little bit more deeply with the rest of my career.
Signal Toronto: Can you give an example of that?
Carroll: My area has a lot of development that comes along with transit. We’ve absorbed a lot of the new population in Toronto, whether it’s newcomers to Canada or simply the growing number of millennials who need housing. We’ve done a lot of work here at the city, in terms of setting really clear guidelines and how we think planning and growth policy regimes should continue. I think the province and the city working together could be a little more clear, to the folks that live here, that’s it’s not a matter of “we have no control,” or “they have no control” – really there’s a lot that goes into this. Both governments are just not as good at communicating the process as we should be, and I think I can help with that having a dual perspective over time.
Signal Toronto: Do you anticipate that the 2018 provincial election is going to be a tough race?
Carroll: 2018 is going to be very tough. It’s probably going to be one of the most difficult and exciting elections in Ontario for a long time, certainly for my party. That being said, in the eight months that I’ve spent on a membership drive, going door to door, there is a lot of confidence in the ideology, the philosophy, and the work of this [Liberal provincial] government. A lot of really exciting things that are a good fit in Don Valley North, so while I think it’ll be tough across the province, I’m really confident about Don Valley North. A lot of really exciting things that are a good fit in Don Valley North, so while I think it’ll be tough across the province, I’m really confident about Don Valley North.
Signal Toronto: Where do you stand in the tension between Mayor John Tory and Premier Wynne this week?
Carroll: Well you know the mayor’s engaged in a communication campaign, but that being said, it’s not really inconsistent with my own vocal record to say that it’s time to calm down the political rhetoric a little bit on the part of the mayor in my view. There has been a significant investment made. The biggest investment in transit anywhere in Canada right now is being made by the provincial government in this city. The largest infrastructure project anywhere in the country is the Eglinton Crosstown, and it’s only happening because of Premier Wynne, who was then the transportation minister when the mayor of Toronto [Rob Ford] tried to cancel that line. There is a huge investment in transit going on here. There is also additional investment in housing. Not the investment the mayor was looking for, but investment nevertheless. The federal government coming to the table only adds to that. But there has been a $2 billion investment made by the province, and more to come. How that investment is delivered by other orders of government is something that council’s really going to have to turn its mind to.
Signal Toronto: Are you going to be backing up the Premier over the next year in terms of decisions in the provincial budget to not spend on Toronto Community Housing?
Carroll: It’s not that the Premier has said that she’s not going to spend on Toronto Community Housing. Social housing in the City of Toronto is an arms-length corporation, and the request of funds is not a surprise, not unknown. There’s no question that this budget is an Ontario-wide budget, it wasn’t a Toronto-centric budget. What Toronto was given was more tools. Double the gas tax. More money in social housing, but money that we need to decide how we want to spend. There have been investments made in Toronto. They just weren’t the letter perfect exact ones that the mayor is asking for, and they certainly weren’t the whole wack, but they are still there to be a partner in making sure that housing as whole becomes more affordable in this city starting with and certainly including the 16 measures taken last week to cool down the market both in ownership and in rental.
Signal Toronto: Will you be advocating, or representing, the provincial Liberals at Toronto city council?
Carroll: No. I’m not the first councillor who has been a counsellor that has an ongoing candidacy. And while you’re here, you represent the needs of Ward 33, you represent your own politics – the ones that got you elected to be the councillor of Ward 33. But I don’t think they’ve been all that inconsistent with what I’ve been saying, which has caused people in Don Valley North to sign over a thousand memberships to be a supporter of my becoming their MPP, and so there’s no question that I’ll be in the council chamber for a little while. I’ve got a lot more work to do for Ward 33, but you won’t see a radical change in the way I do that work.
Signal Toronto: Can I ask you a lighter questions?
Signal Toronto: is there a song – if there was to be a soundtrack for today, is there a song that is kinda…?
Carroll: (Laughs) I’ve always used the same song, gosh I think since the 2006 election. I always enter a room with the song by Pink “You better get this party started” [actual title: “Get the Party Started”]. So until further notice, that’s still my song.