BIO

Michael Thompson is Chair of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, Chair of Invest Toronto, a member of the Executive Committee and the Employee and Labour Relations Committee,  a board member of Build Toronto and the City Councillor representing Ward 37, Scarborough Centre.

Now in his fourth term as City Councillor, Michael has earned a reputation as one of Toronto’s hardest working political leaders.

Michael’s commitment to economic development is longstanding. In his first term in office, he spearheaded the creation of the Wexford Heights Business Improvement Area and established a Job Fair that annually brings thousands of job seekers together with dozens of employers. He maintains a widespread network of business relationships that has helped to enhance business retention, promote growth and increase private sector employment. His active engagement with business has helped speed the launch of new business ventures, resolved business/residential conflicts and gained business participation in a wide range of community-building initiatives. In 2010, thanks to his persistent salesmanship, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the world’s largest student run professional association, held its annual conference in Toronto, bringing more than 10,000 young engineers (and millions of dollars) to the city.

A believer in the critical value of culture as a builder of strong communities, Michael co-founded the Taste of Lawrence Avenue East Festival, which brings together tens of thousands of people each year to experience local performing arts and cuisine. He also created the “Scarborough Rocks” community image building campaign, which emphasizes Scarborough’s unique cultural blend.

Michael has been equally active on behalf of Toronto’s youth. In 2006, He brought together businesses, schools, 41 Division Police and the Future Aces program to create Ontario’s first Positive Ticketing program for youth. The program rewards good behaviour with valuable tickets and coupons. He also successfully spearheaded the creation of new recreation facilities in his Ward (including a state-of-the-art skateboard park), and introduced floor tennis to schools in key neighbourhoods city-wide. In conjunction with Project Engagement, an initiative he co-founded in 2006, he continues to promote the development of young leaders from a wide range of cultural and economic backgrounds.

Michael received his public school education in Scarborough, and his BA from Concordia University in Montreal. Prior to entering politics, Mr. Thompson earned his business credentials as an entrepreneur in the business and financial services sector. He is the recipient of the African Achievement Award for Excellence in Politics, the York University International Award, the Jain Society of Toronto Community Award, and the Bob Marley Award. He continues to work with a number of charitable organizations including participation in the LIUNA Local 506 scholarship fund. He is a hockey and basketball dad who enjoys a range of activities that includes hockey, soccer, basketball and all things sports.

 

ALBUMS GALLERY

MY VOTING RECORD

MY POSITIONS

Carding is a form of “data mining” used by police to gather information from targeted or random individuals in the community.

The practice involves police officers approaching people not suspected of criminal activity and subjecting them to intrusive questions about their behaviour, associations, movements or other activities. While targeted individuals are under no obligation to answer these questions, officers thus far have not been required to inform people that cooperation is voluntary.

Carding data shows that the practice has been alarmingly discriminatory, singling out visible minorities in grossly disproportionate numbers. Although it is labelled “community engagement” by police, it does just the opposite by demeaning innocent people and subjecting them to intimidation.

The police say that the information gained through the carding process makes their job easier. But people in neighbourhoods with the heaviest use of carding believe that the practice demonstrates a lack of respect for their basic rights and freedoms and promotes anger, suspicion and mistrust in the community. And in the long run, rather than bringing police and communities together, carding alienates citizens and creates barriers between them. In the long term, alienated communities are harder to police.

An effective police service is one that that breaks down the “us and them” mentality engendered by practices like carding. Carding is not consistent with Toronto’s values of diversity, tolerance and fairness, and I have been working closely with some of Toronto’s most respected leaders to ensure that the practice is scrapped.

The aging Gardiner Expressway sits at the bottom of a transportation corridor that links downtown Toronto with highways leading east, west and north. It is the City’s only downtown highway artery, and it is in desperate need of repair. What the city does to fix the Gardiner will shape the evolution of new neighbourhoods in the eastern waterfront and determine the character of our downtown for the next century.

Despite the recommendation of city planners, downtown residents and progressive transportation experts for a ground-level option, City Council has approved the retention an elevated highway at the east end of the Gardiner based on the assumption that it will have the least impact on traffic flow. In my view, this decision puts the interests of the people who drive through our City ahead of those of the people who live here.

The elevated highway will be more costly to build and more difficult and expensive to maintain. To my knowledge, there are no concrete and steel highway technologies that are impervious to decay. In another 30 to 40 years, the effects of water and frost and salt will require our descendants to revisit this debate. It is highly unlikely that the Councillors of 2050 will choose to preserve a high maintenance elevated highway that divides and isolates neighbourhoods.

While we have a once in a lifetime chance to build a great new community, the approved elevated highway will also preserve an eyesore and barrier between the city and the lake. Nearly every city that has taken down an elevated highway has found that little long term inconvenience has resulted, while the livability of its neighbourhoods has improved.

I believe that choosing traffic flow over livability is not the wisest course of action. That is why I continue to support a ground-level “boulevard” option over a raised highway.

Subways are the transportation backbone of nearly every successful major city. Properly designed, they provide a fast and reliable transit network that moves millions of people to and from work and wherever else that choose to go. Because they are mostly below ground, subways are protected from highway congestion and inclement weather.

Toronto’s subway system is in desperate need of upgrading and expansion. There are simply too many people and too little capacity for the system to continue to meet the needs of our rapidly growing urban population and an overburdened transportation infrastructure.

I have been a long-time supporter of the creation of a Scarborough subway line to replace the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line. The city is currently finalizing the choice of a route for the line, with construction to follow in the years ahead. The line will extend the subway backbone into Scarborough and provide a transit spine around which to build an efficient system serving all of Scarborough.

But a Scarborough subway line alone is just the beginning of addressing the capacity and access issues facing the city’s subway system. Toronto also needs the so-called Downtown Relief Line (DRL) to ease the strain on the Yonge/University line and its overloaded transfer stations at St. George and Bloor. The DRL would provide a rapid and direct link for passengers now using the east end of the Bloor/Danforth line to get downtown without transferring to the Yonge University line. This line will significantly relieve passenger pressure on the Yonge line, and reduce the need to make expensive capacity upgrades on its now overcrowded stations.

I brought a successful motion forward to Council in 2009 seeking to make construction of the DRL a transit priority for the City. The line is now part of the Metrolinx construction plan for the city. For more information about Metrolinx expansion plans, download the full report at http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/bigmove/The_Big_Move_Baseline_Monitoring_Full_Report_EN.pdf

In early July, City Council passed a resolution in support of expanded casino gambling at Woodbine Racetrack. The expansion would create an integrated entertainment and retail complex which will include gaming and a broad range of non-gaming related uses.

Council’s resolution requires that a number of strict conditions be met by Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission before final approval is granted. Of greatest importance are provisions that address problem gambling, local employment, expansion of transit to the area, the mitigation of infrastructure costs to the City and guarantees of significant benefits to the Rexdale community.

Because a properly managed casino expansion at Woodbine could deliver significant economic benefits to the City, and spur development in a neighbourhood faced with many economic and social challenges, I supported Council’s resolution. My support is contingent on Council’s requested conditions being met. For more information on this issue, visit http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2015.EX7.4

COMMITTEES

Committee Position View
Economic Development and Culture Committee Chair VISIT
Invest Toronto Chair VISIT
Build Toronto Board Member VISIT
Executive Committee Member VISIT
Employee and Labour Relations Committee Member VISIT
Province of Ontario GTHA Economic Growth Working Group Co-Chair VISIT

MY STAFF

Ihor D. Wons

Executive Assistant

Debbie Gedz

Administrative Assistant

John Zinderdine

Special Assistant