U of T student declares candidacy for City Councillor in York West
Paulina Saliba / the newspaper
With a successful result in the municipal election slated for October 27, a University of Toronto student hailing from Jane and Finch may be earning over a hundred thousand dollars as a city councillor, 62 percent of which, he says will be given to charity.
Thomas Barclay, a 30-year-old International Relations and Political Science student is running for councillor in his home ward, Ward 8, and if successful, he plans to peg his salary to $39 000—the average income of a Ward 8 resident. The act is an obvious thing to do for Barclay, stating, “how can I represent a constituency where I am making more than twice as much as everyone? … I don’t need you to tell me the roads aren’t salted because I already slipped.”
Barclay running for councillor while finishing the last 1.5 credits of his degree. Five years ago, Barclay was working as a manger at the sporting goods store Champs, earning $53 000 a year plus bonuses. Yet Barclay knew with only a high school education, he would eventually hit a ceiling: “I went to U of T so I could get all the opportunities available. And then, it’s on me. I just never wanted to be a victim.”
Within the next two months, Barclay intends to move into his grandfather’s condominium near Jane and Finch. “I want to tell Jane and Finch that you are not a constituency of victims.” To help remove the 'victimhood' from Jane-Finch, Barclay wants to work with the police to eradicate racial profiling from his neighbourhood. Several friends of Barclay’s were trapped in the criminal system for minor charges, while Barclay admits he has never been stopped by the police; “And I know why," says Barclay, "I’m white.”
In 2007, the current Ward 8 councillor, Anthony Perruzza began rebranding the Jane and Finch neighbourhood as University Heights, saying, "Jane and Finch is an intersection, it's not a name." However, Barclay embraces the Jane and Finch name, and says of Perruzza, “he probably calls it the Rogers Centre, but I was born and raised in Jane and Finch and I go to the SkyDome.” Although Barclay is currently the single candidate nominated for councillor in Ward 8, many others will likely follow, including Perruzza, who was an MP from 1990-1995 with the NDP.
Perruzza will likely have the support of the NDP’s unionized employees throughout his 2014 campaign. NDP workers and employees are paid to assist with municipal campaigning, yet do not have be declared in campaign expenses as stipulated in section 66.2 of the Municipal Elections Act. Expect Barclay’s campaign to involve a lot of personal grunt work, and to centre on personal meetings with constituents at the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre. Barclay hopes to arrange over 5000 one-on-one meetings.
Raising monetary capital is not a concerning part of the campaign for Barclay, “[our campaign] has the greatest amount of capital, and that is human capital.” As for what concerns Barclay most? “Not doing a good enough job,” he says. “I don’t like disappointing people. … But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I could do a better job than Perruzza.”
During Barclay’s high school years he played football under the direction of coach Rob Ford at Newtonbrook High School. With a straight face, Barclay describes Mayor Ford as an amazing football coach, yet an individual who absolutely cannot admit to being wrong. “You can’t be like that as a leader. When I’m wrong, I’ll be the first person to say ‘wow, that was a bad idea. Okay, let’s fix this.’”
Raised by his mother and grandfather, Barclay explains what his first measure in office would be: changing the uneven pavement outside the No Frills grocery store near his mother's building, saying “People complain about it. So either individuals don’t know their city councillor, they don’t know he is responsible, or they do call him and he doesn’t help them.”
Barclay’s campaign gaze seems to be focused on the Jane-Finch community, yet in October 2013 Barclay founded a charitable foundation called Aequus which assists individuals both within and outside of his community. Barclay also began to set up a micro-lending project that gives out small interest-free loans to help locals fund the initial costs for starting a business. With his personal experiences in mind, Aequus began developing a cookbook for single mothers with low cost and relatively inexpensive recipes which can also be made by young people.
It was through Barclay's Aequus initiatives, Barclay was inspired to run for city councillor. Last year, as it was approaching Christmas-time, Barclay imagined Jane-Finch lit up like the main streets of Yorkville. Barclay began buying outdoor lights to light the balconies of the apartment buildings of 5, 10, and 25 San Romanoway. Barclay soon realized that his vision was marred by municipal red tape, and limited by his own lack of local authority.
comments powered by Disqus
“I don’t want to have limits to the amount of good I can do for the neighborhood.”