As we get set to welcome 2019, there’s definitely going to be a lot happening in politics this year.
Last year’s provincial and municipal election produced some surprising and shocking results. As we gear up for a federal vote to take place in October, it’s a good idea to take a look at the cast of characters that could impact the quality of life for Brampton residents this year.
We had previously profiled some people to watch for in Brampton politics a few years ago. Things have definitely changed since that list was last seen.
Here are my suggestions for five names to watch in Brampton politics in 2019.
Patrick BrownThe Mayor of Brampton once again makes this list, but since last year’s election we have a different occupier of that office. Patrick Brown’s first year as the city’s leader should be just as eventful as his predecessor’s.
Brown’s first full year as mayor could be dominated by three important issues: whether the city opts in to the provincial cannabis store regime, the future of the Hurontario LRT (and whether Brown can ‘get a better deal’ as he proclaimed in his first council meeting) and what happens with the Ryerson university in downtown.
The mayor promised that Brampton will no longer be the stop where politicians swing by just to pick up votes. With a federal election looming, it will be interesting to see how much Brown can persuade federal party leaders and candidates to actually promise to deliver for the city.
Gurpreet DhillonOne of Brown’s other challenges may be on how to deal with a strongly motivated ‘progressive’ bloc of councillors looking to move ahead with issues on their terms, potentially challenging Brown’s calls for ‘unity positions’.
During the first meeting of the new council, Wards 9 and 10 regional councillor Gurpreet Dhillon put through a number of motions, such as one reviving the Main Street LRT route as well as adding additional staff for Brampton councillors along the lines of what Mississauga councillors currently have in terms of office staff.
It almost seemed almost that Dhillon was driving the council’s agenda with Brown playing a bit of defensive as the mayor called for unity in the vote, which initially broke down to 6-5 against deferring the LRT motion for further study at committee.
Expect Councillor Dhillon to be taking on more of a assertive role around council now that he’s no longer in Linda Jeffrey’s shadow. Brown may have the same issue as Jeffrey had with a council that bent in a different direction.
Rowena Santos and Paul VicenteSpeaking of that bloc of progressive councillors two newcomers, Rowena Santos and Paul Vicente (elected in Wards 1 and 5), should also be ones to watch in 2019.
They’re being lumped together here because their entire campaign was based on that team approach: elect us and we will work together for the community. It’s one of those ‘team slate’ strategies that actually ended up in success at the ballot box.
Since taking office, Santos has been appointed as the additional regional councillor for Peel Regional Council and signed up for a number of committee positions at the regional level. What is also noticeable is that Santos has prior private sector and government experience: she worked at the Ontario Legislature for years while Vicente is a long time community activist in Brampton.
That kind of background and expertise could make Santos and Vicente invaluable to Brown, as the mayor seeks to figure out the city’s relationship with the province. Expect these two to make their presence felt around Brampton city council in 2019.
Jeff BowmanIn the last term of council, the members of council mostly had the sway around the chambers voted down (or depending on who you talk to, tempered down) some of Linda Jeffrey’s key initiatives, such as the LRT. This time around that dynamic is still evident, with Mayor Brown facing a more ‘progressive’ council that may have other plans in mind.
One of those councillors from the ‘other side’ that returned to office is Wards 3 and 4 City Coun. Jeff Bowman. He was reelected with 52 per cent of the vote despite facing a strong challenger with Jeffrey’s backing. During the first meeting of the new term, Bowman was quite vocal about the ‘progressives’ flexing their newfound strength.
Brown usually chairs council meetings, so Bowman could be one of those more vocal councillors pushing back against the newly energized six during this term.
Moving away from Brampton City Council, let’s look at some personalities that, no matter what they’re doing, will have a dramatic impact on Brampton this year.
Giorgio MammolitiIn 2018, Toronto city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti announced he wanted to run to become a Tory MPP in Brampton Centre. The veteran councillor represented the Jane and Finch area for over 20 years and had little connection to this city.
After about a week or so, Mammoliti announced he was no longer putting his name forward to be a provincial MPP in Brampton, instead saying he would run for reelection in Toronto. The councillor ended up losing his reelection bid to a fellow incumbent, Anthony Perruzza, when Ford slashed the size of Toronto city council down to 25, forcing the two councillors to run against each other.
Now the political rumour mill is that Mammoliti, out of a job, is looking to run as a federal Conservative in one of the Brampton ridings for the 2019 election. There are currently two confirmed federal Tory candidates in Brampton East and Brampton North, so perhaps Mammoliti will try going for Brampton Centre again.
Speaking of one of those aforementioned Brampton ridings….
Raj GrewalThe current Liberal turned Independent MP for Brampton East was a rising star in the party until late 2018 revelations that he was suffering from a gambling addiction forced him to leave the Liberal caucus to seek treatment. Grewal said he will make a decision about his political future in 2019.
However, that future may not be his to make. Further allegations that he and another MP had received confidential information about a local bridge project had complicated things, plus how Grewal had previously been asking questions about money laundering on the federal Finance Committee raised questions regarding Grewal’s own financial troubles.
There has been some backroom lobbying as to who the Liberals would replace Grewal with as the Liberal candidate in Brampton East. But if Patrick Brown is any indication for politics in this era, a comeback is always possible.
Doug FordThe Ontario Premier is fresh off a roller coasting of six months as the head of Ontario’s government. Since taking office last June, he has cancelled cap and trade, brought in ‘buck a beer’ and made a number of cuts in various social and education programs.
In Brampton’s case, he cancelled a series of regional chair elections including in Peel, which led directly to Brown becoming Brampton’s mayor. One day after the municipal election in which Brown was elected, Ford announced that the Ryerson university campus coming to the city would be cancelled, citing the need to find financial efficiencies.
For the last few months since Brown assumed his new office, the mayor and Ford have not actually held a meeting of any kind, be it over the phone or in person unlike in Mississauga. It’s kinda hard to advocate for a better transit or university deal if the guy holding the purse strings doesn’t give you the time of day.
In 2019, expect some big announcements from Ford over the future of the Hurontario LRT, as well as the future of Brampton itself when the province conducts their ‘regional governance review’. It’s most likely that Peel Region would be abolished and Brampton and Mississauga would become cities by themselves while Caledon will join Dufferin County.
Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Justin TrudeauWhether you like it or not, you’re about to see more of these three men with a federal election in October as they vie to become the next Prime Minister of Canada.
Based on current trends, Trudeau’s Liberals are still the favourite going into a bid for a second term in government. But a year is a long way away, and unexpected situations can occur that can steer a government off course from their preferred agenda. Expect one more pre-election cabinet shuffle in the spring before the fall election.
For Scheer, this will be the rookie Conservative leader’s first countrywide campaign as he tries to connect with voters who are not familiar with who he is. A Saskatchewan MP who served as Speaker of the House during the last Conservative government, Scheer doesn’t have a track record in government for other parties to attack. However, Scheer may have to contend with his former fellow Tory Maxime Bernier, who started up the People’s Party that could end up splitting the conservative vote in key ridings.
As for the leader whose political roots started in Brampton, Singh might be in for the toughest year of his career. Even before the federal vote, Singh has to win a by-election out in Burnaby, BC, in order to get a seat in the House of Commons. It’s pretty safe to say that should he somehow not be successful in winning a seat, his leadership of the NDP is over.
And if Singh should win a seat, he will have a tough time shoring up NDP fortunes in the few months remaining before October, as the New Democrats have barely registered in the public opinion surveys and their fundraising has been stagnant.
The hopes of the Conservatives of a strong NDP to split the vote with the Liberals doesn’t look like it will happen with the way current trends are going.
Beg in mind, this is just a speculative list of who to watch in politics in Brampton in 2019. A year is an eternity and unexpected things are bound to occur that could catapult other players onto the scene.
What do you think of this list?