Will The Election Be A Referendum On Carolyn Parrish’s Manner?
There is no doubt about it. Coun. Carolyn Parrish who has represented Ward 5 on Mississauga City Council since her election in 2014, has had a tumultuous term.
But then again, this veteran politician who’s been a school trustee, a federal MP and a City councillor in two different wards since her political career began in 1985, has often attracted controversy.
Rewind to 2003 — the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Parrish drew headlines with her “Damn Americans, I hate those bastards” infamous remark on camera. Appropriate? No. Representative of Canadian sentiment at the time? Possibly.
Parrish’s often unfiltered bluntness has remained her trademark. As Ward 5 councillor she’s been in hot water over her words a few times. And words do matter. That’s probably one of the biggest lessons we’ve drawn from the mess that’s going on in Trump’s America. The other lesson from down south? Actions matter too.
Ward 5 (Britannia Woods-Malton) has its challenges. It has the highest percentage of visible minorities in the city, and the lowest individual income. Malton Village in particular has to deal with the vast industrial/commercial environs surrounding it, and being the location of Canada’s major airport, managed by the Greater Toronto Airport Association (GTAA).
The GTAA has been known to have locked horns with the City of Mississauga over a number of issues, like taxes, servicing cost and development. And for better or for worse for residents of Ward 5, it has recently proposed a multi-billion dollar— and mammoth—transit hub to be built near the airport.
So making sure that Britannia Woods-Malton is strongly represented is essential. Still, Parrish’s approach and modis operandi has come under fire.
There was the racially charged imbroglio involving Parish’s texts to Peel Regional Police Services Board chair Sue McFadden about Officer Ingrid Berkeley-Brown who was not sympathetic to Parish’s efforts to avert the closing of a police station at Malton’s Westwood Square, which Parish believed, kept the area safe.
After an investigation by an integrity commission into the incident, Parrish was found in breach of Peel Region’s code of conduct, docked five day’s pay and required to attend sensitivity on sex- and race-based biases training. Parrish did make a public statement saying she “deeply regretted” her remarks, and apologized to Superintendent Berkeley-Brown (now Deputy Chief of Peel Regional Police).
Parrish was also criticised for calling a constitutent “cranky” when he objected to the conversion of a well-frequented albeit run-down Brandon Gate shopping plaza into an affordable housing development, and called into question Parrish’s motives in this plan. (Since then conversion plan has been amended to include a retail space for a variety store for the community.)
And more recently, Parrish’s move to initiate the withdrawal of Nikki Clark from the list of council candidates for Ward 5, based on Clarke’s errors in her application, also drew fire. Clark, a television personality and long-time Malton activist, was seen as a potentially strong challenger to Parrish.
These controversial incidents are for the residents of Ward 5 to consider on Oct. 22. But what also needs to be considered are the improvements to their ward made during Parrish’s term.
The Britannia community will soon be able to boast one of the most unique spaces in Ontario—the Britannia Farm and an adjacent 168-acre outdoor education centre. It took 4 years of negotiations with Britannia Farm stakeholders to get this off the ground, and managing the process will take yet another few years.
The Goreway bridge underpass is finally on track, and a new vibrant youth hub for the 10,000 youth of Malton is in the works through a $10-million dollar conversion of unused Lincoln Alexander SS pool.
Private fundraising paid for great Canada Day celebration, the restoration of heritage CF 100, and the creation of an award-winning playground in the redeveloped Malton arena, renamed Paul Coffee Park.
And into that weighing-the-pros-and-cons of Parrish’s relection hat, let’s throw one in that may have gone under the radar. When the city council was reviewing eligibility requirements for individuals who want to be part of a committee at city hall—basically, the long-standing requirement that these individuals must be Canadian citizens—Parrish argued for the right of landed immigrants to sit on committees. “I think it’s a fundamental right,” argued Parrish. “If you move to Canada and you are a landed immigrant and you’re working and living in the community, you should get to sit on one of our committees.”
Much has been achieved in Ward 5, but much more remains to be done. It’s up to the residents of Britannia Woods-Malton to decide who is best equipped to fight for—what the some of the area’s denizens consider—their “forgotten neighbourhood.”