Liberal candidate Grant Gordon shares his plans for small business, youth unemployment, and maverick politics
by Vanessa Pinto
Grant Gordon, Toronto, 2012
“Grant Gordon’s Liberal vision for Toronto-Danforth is one of “people caring for people.” Gordon expresses his desire to deepen Toronto-Danforth’s sense of identity.” His values of community, family, and fairness and equality are reflected in his career running a design firm dedicated to creating social change. This has led to a natural crossover into politics, where he’d have an opportunity to better impact the community “on the inside of the government.” Gordon, a self-proclaimed maverick, reveals that current government initiatives have prompted him to “jump in” to politics in a more active way.
OTD: Can you tell On the Danforth readers about your political life?
GG: For the last 10 years, I’ve been running a design firm downtown. It’s a company dedicated to creating social change. That means we run programs to try and create cleaner air, cleaner water, better education for kids, better nutrition — all the good stuff. I have been advocating, on the outside of the government, for change, trying to make the world a better place — trying to make our community a better place. I feel especially, with what the Harper Government is doing right now, I can make more of an impact on the inside of the government. That’s really what’s prompted me to participate. I can’t stand on the sidelines and bellyache any longer. I have to jump in and see if I can affect change.
OTD: How long have you been a part of the Liberal Party?
GG: I’ve been part of the Liberal Party for many years. I’ve been a long time Liberal because my values align well with the Liberal values. The notion of fairness and equality for everyone is what I believe in — from Laurier to Pearson to Trudeau — I feel a great sense of kinship with their ideals.
OTD: What is one thing that stands out to you about the Toronto-Danforth neighbourhood?
GG: It has to be its diversity. It must be one of the most diverse places in the world, in three ways: it’s culturally diverse, it’s socially diverse and it’s economically diverse. That’s what attracted me to living here in the first place and that’s why I want to raise my children here. I want them to be immersed in a community that reflects the changing world.
OTD: What sorts of challenges do you feel that diversity places on someone in a political role? Are there any challenges?
GG: No, I think it’s the opposite. It provides opportunity after opportunity for us all to learn from one another. It’s truly a multicultural riding and that’s the joy and beauty of it.
OTD: If elected, what is one thing you would change to benefit the riding?
GG: The list is very long. I’ll give you three that pain me the most. There are lots of children in this riding who go to school hungry every morning. We all know children can’t learn on an empty stomach. We have a moral imperative to make sure there isn’t one single child who goes to school hungry, and that’s something I will devote myself to changing. There are also a lot of youth who are unemployed. We need a mentorship program for them. That’s something I would start working on March 20th, the day after the election. The third thing is small business. This is a riding fuelled by small business. Small businesses are having a very hard time right now. I’m a small business person. I understand the challenges. I want to think outside the box, gather people together, and facilitate and come up with innovative ideas to help small business.
OTD: Do you have any ideas you want to share that you think will help small businesses?
GG: I think we need a buy-local campaign. I think we need this campaign to permeate every conscious person in the riding. Our kids go to school with the kids of people who own small businesses. We have to support them locally. Our instincts at every turn should be to buy local, shop local, eat local, and do whatever we can to support the businesses in our community.
OTD: What is your vision for Toronto-Danforth?
GG: My long-term vision is to make sure that there is a culture of caring in the community. A culture of people caring for people in everything we do. Furthermore, I feel like this riding needs more of an identity. It needs to celebrate itself more. It needs to understand what’s so great about it. It really is this amazing quilt of pockets of great communities, great neighbourhoods, and I really feel like we need some kind of leader to bind us all together.
OTD: How do you feel about running in the late Jack Layton’s riding?
GG: To be perfectly honest, to be the next Member of Parliament after such a larger-than-life person, after a guy who made such a great contribution to the Canadian political scene, that would be a tremendous honour.
OTD: Is there any other statement you would like to add?
GG: I really believe that a member of parliament, the role of an opposition MP, is kind of a dual role. The first role is to go to Ottawa, and in this case rattle the cage of Steven Harper and fight like hell for Old Age Pension, and there’s a long list of things we have to try to protect, but that’s only half the job. We can’t wait until a new government comes in to help us in this community. There are people who are really hurting [in this riding]. And I think a maverick Member of Parliament has to put all their energy into coming up with ideas to help people right here, right now. It can’t wait. There are too many people that are suffering in this riding.
OTD: Do you consider yourself a maverick?
GG: I wouldn’t want to be anything else.
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