Frustrated with antics of people like city councilor Paula Fletcher – outraged ex-communist party member, who has trouble telling yes from no on her voting machine – running things at city hall, Karlene Nation, an ex broadcaster with CTV, jumped into the Ward 19 race in September.
We had coffee with Karlene at I Deal coffee on Ossington this Sunday morning and she clearly shows a passion for getting in and playing some kind of spoiler in this race. She knows she’s not a front-runner but she’s getting her issues heard, and learning and experiencing the process of running a campaign as she goes along. Without the campaign machines of some of the other people running, she does everything herself.
She’s got a strong, focused message which supports business owners. They are a ward constituency that doesn’t get to vote, but provide the backbone of the community. She tells us that they don’t get heard at city hall, and it’s generally an un-inviting place with no interest in welcoming small businesses. This sentiment was expressed by Shaun, a partner of the Garrison, in his question to the candidates (see 1:27:25 in) about the tangle of red-tape he has to run through to get anything done to run his little business on Dundas. Businesses, clearly, are not consulted on issues, and Karlene talked about the need to have a “Business Welcome” sign at city hall, with a reception that lets people know how they can get things done, rather than having them sent to the back corner.
She is very comfortable speaking her mind – especially about issues of media coverage. She pointed out that CHIN radio, a very popular local station among the diverse neighbourhood, outright supported Mike Layton, and is not interested in playing any role in the election apart from advocate. She also said that one of the unused avenues for local Ossington businesses was to use the media better, and hold the politicians to account. You can be sure she’d bring this media savvy to city hall.
What struck us and many of the other people we chatted to after last Tuesday’s debate was Karlene’s passion. She obviously cares deeply about the ward and it comes out in her speeches and discussion one-on-one.