Toronto Council Renewal Project

TCRP Recommended Candidate: David Caplan, the best chance of defeating Denzil Minnan-Wong 

Boundaries: Hwy. 401 to the north; Victoria Park Ave. to the east, Sunrise Ave. and Don River to the south, Don River and Leslie St. to the west and the 401 to the north. 

Demographics: There are 94,579 people with an average age of 41.5. The average household size is 2.5 people with a median household income of $60,431. The percentage of visible minorities in the ward is 57%. [ Info Toronto Star | Sept 24]

Ward 16 - Don Valley East

Denzil Minnan-Wong: (Incumbent)

One of Mayor John Tory’s trusted deputy mayors, Minnan-Wong is a right-wing incumbent. His re-election slogan is: Keeping Taxes Down. He is one of the councillors who helps Tory control much of what goes on at council. He has been in city politics for 24 years. In 1994, North York city council appointed him an interim councillor when the sitting member passed away. Later that year he was elected to the position in the municipal election. In 1997 he was elected to the city council of the new amalgamated city of Toronto. Tory named him to the position of Deputy Mayor in December 2014. Minnan-Wong tried to jump to Conservative provincial politics this year but was defeated by the Liberal incumbent, former cabinet minister Michael Coteau. 

Minnan-Wong has been at the centre of many controversies. Shortly after he was appointed Deputy Mayor, Toronto Life magazine said he was the “most divisive choice possible.” The same column credited Minnan-Wong with administering “a ruthless, thorough, and necessary public dismantling of Rob Ford.” Within days Ford had been stripped of his powers. Minnan-Wong was one of 5 councillors on the TTC board who voted to terminate the services of the TTC General Manager Gary Webster in 2012. Other council members were so incensed that the five were removed from the TTC board.

In 2011, Minnan-Wong led an initiative to contract out garbage collection in Toronto west of Yonge Street, with projected savings of $12 million a year. He was accused of "poisoning" the relations between Toronto Civic Employees Union and Toronto Council. Although Minnan-Wong didn't learn to ride a bicycle until the age of 46, he supported the development of the first on-street separated bike lane network in Toronto.

In an interview published on August 30th, 2017 in the Toronto Sun, Minnan-Wong said that outgoing Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat should "stick to knitting." Although he had previously also said this in reference to men, he was accused of making a sexist comment by Keesmaat. Minnan-Wong apologized for his words and said that they were taken out of context. Minnan-Wong is the son of a Chinese immigrant who became a prominent member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. 

Boards and Committees: North York Community Council; Civic Appointments Committee, Mayor’s designate as Chair; Employee and Labour Relations Committee, Chair; Nominating Panel - Corporations. Other Boards and Committees: Toronto Hydro Corporation Board of Directors; Toronto Transit Commission; Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (Waterfront Toronto), Mayor’s designate.

Voting Record 2014 - 2018: Minnan-Wong voted against keeping bike lanes on Bloor; in favour of considering child care space reductions; in favour of a long-term financial plan for the city; in favour of the Scarborough subway extension; in favour of considering budget cuts that would impact quality of life for Toronto Community Housing Corporation residents; against exploring the feasibility of a Toronto sales tax; against adding 1,000 new beds in the 2018 Shelter Infrastructure plan; against full funding for TransformTO, the city's long-term climate action plan; against naming a stadium after Rob Ford.

2014 electoral results and 2017 attendance: 1st runner-up Mary Hynes got 34% of Minnan-Wong's vote count. Minnan-Wong missed 15.3% of recorded council votes.


Aria Alavi:

Alavi’s involvement with the Don Valley East Federal Liberal Association goes back to 2011. He was the general secretary of the Association.  As a licensed paralegal, Aria helped residents in Ward 31 and Ward 32 with various legal problems, notably landlord and tenant issues. He earlier worked as a journalist for many years. His family immigrated to Canada in 2001.

If elected, Aria says he will host three community meetings about youth and children’s issues in each quarter. Also, as an experienced career adviser, he will invite experienced recruiters to the ward to help anyone who is unemployed to find a job and give back to our community.

Issues: Alavi says City Hall must implement a comprehensive subsidized program for newly opened daycares that will reduce a long waitlist for subsidized daycares significantly. City Hall must provide comprehensive lower tax plans for owners of vacant premises and encourage owners to turn them into daycares and recreation centres.


Diane Gadoutsis:

In 2014, Diane Gadoutsis was an unsuccessful candidate for appointment to fill the vacancy of councillor, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, left by PeterMilczyn. Milczyn was elected to provincial office.


Stephen Ksiazek:

This is Ksiazek’s first attempt to get elected, but he knows his target: Denzil Minnan-Wong, who has been in city politics for 24 years - much too long in the opinion of this new candidate.  He has owned and run several businesses in the building and manufacturing industries, and is a retired Officer in the Canadian Naval Reserve. Ksiazek is a member of Don Mills Residents Inc.  To support development in the ward, he says he has volunteered countless hours of volunteer work.  

Issues: Ksiazek believes there is much important development to be done in the community, coping with the amount of new housing, the re-development of the 60+ acres owned by Celestica, the redevelopment of properties along the Donway, the new community centre near the shops at Don Mills.


Pushpalatha Mathanalingam:

Pushpa leads the group Canadian Women Humanitarian Hands, an organization that helps single women, widows, orphans and disabled kids. She is a consultant at Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Consultants. In 2014, she failed to be elected to the Toronto School Board.


Dimitre Popov:

Dimitre was a candidate in ward 26 in 2014 when he received 2% of the vote. Popov campaigned on reducing the number of city employees.


There was no information on:

Michael Woulfe


David Caplan, son of prominent political parents, Elinor and Wilfred Caplan, was a three-time Liberal MP for Don Valley East from 1999 to 2011. During his tenure he was appointed Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal in 2003 and later served as Minister of Health under Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2008. 

Caplan is a middle-of-the-road guy politically but TCRP is supporting him because he may be the only candidate who can defeat Denzil Minnan-Wong. Getting Minnan-Wong off council would be a big step toward electing a group of councillors who are more responsive to the needs of everyday citizens.

Caplan had major achievements in his early years at Queen’s Park, but also had a couple of serious setbacks. He was forced to resign his Health Ministry post in May 2009 when results of an inquiry into e-Health, a proposed Ontario public electronic health record system, revealed widespread irregularities costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Caplan did not seek re-election.  


In the interim period of post-provincial politics, Caplan served as chairman of the Infrastructure Lab before being named as vice-chairman of Global Public Affairs Toronto. He is a member of two prominent community organizations – the Baycrest Foundation and the Yee Hong Foundation. 

In Minnan-Wong, Caplan is facing a powerful conservative force in the city. Minnan-Wing has been 20 years building a highly coveted political network running deep into Toronto’s municipal government. He is close to the seat of power, serving as Mayor Tory’s deputy mayor and Council whip.

Caplan has at least two major things helping him. Change is in the air and if that turns into votes, Minnan-Wong will have trouble. Second, if voters forgive Caplan his problems at Queen’s Park more than 20 years ago, he can bring a lot of political knowledge and general smarts to city hall.

The highly contested nature of Ward 16 makes it one of the more interesting races in the 2018 election. Both men will likely have a long-term effect on the direction of council.

TCRP is strong in its support for Caplan because we feel he is the only candidate who can topple the long reigning Minnan-Wong.


Once prominent in two Ontario Liberal governments, he has been out of politics for seven years. Caplan was a Liberal member of the legislature represented the ridings of Oriole and Don Valley East from 1997 to 2011. He was Liberal critic for Youth and Training and later held the prominent position of Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal. He was responsible for leading the modernization of the province's infrastructure and planning for future population and economic growth. In 2008 he was appointed Minister of Health.

Caplan was caught up in two scandals. He came under heavy criticism after the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was mired in a scandal which saw retailers winning a disproportionate number of jackpots. He stayed on despite opposition calls for his resignation.

In May 2009, there were opposition calls for Caplan's resignation after it was revealed that the CEO of eHealth Ontario had approved about $4.8 million in no-bid contracts while also spending $50,000 to refurnish her office and paying consultants up to $300 an hour. When the results of an inquiry into the e-Health scandal were released, Caplan resigned as Minister of Health, and did not offer to run in the next election.  

David is the son of Elinor Caplan, who served as a cabinet minister at the federal and provincial levels. His father, Wilfred Caplan, was also a politician. Both David and his mother have been influential in the Jewish community of North York. He is chairman of the Infrastructure Lab and before that was vice-chairman of Global Public Affairs. He is a member of the boards of two prominent community organizations – the Baycrest Foundation and the Yee Hong Foundation. 




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