On July 31, 2014, the candidate for Toronto mayor John Tory hosted a roundtable with leaders of Toronto’s Ukrainian community at the Plast Huculak Centre. At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Tory emphasised the need to have one Toronto that addresses its challenges and opportunities with one voice without artificial divisions among the parts of the amalgamated city or ethnical communities.
In terms of John Tory's plan for traffic and transit, he emphasised the need to build the Scarborough subway without revisiting the issue, and to build the SmartTrack system that would have nine stations in Scarborough and six stations in Etobicoke. Mr. Tory called his plan the most cost-effective, with, for instance, the SmartTrack being a “surface subway” and using existing GO train tracks.
When asked by the Liberal MPP Yvan Baker whether there was a room for more stations in Etobicoke within the SmartTrack plan, John Tory gave an affirmative answer and said that the finances for the project and its expansion would also depend on the provincial legislature and government.
The New Pathway asked Mr. Tory about his vision for bike lanes in the city and he said that he believed in a “sensible” network of separated bike lanes which, although being more expensive than non-separated lanes, would be safer and would be based on where people use them and not interfere with traffic.
In the taxes and jobs part of his agenda, Mr. Tory mentioned the goal of rooting out waste and finding inefficiencies and, at the same time, doing that without setting “scary” goals but working with people and introducing technologies that would allow the streamlining of management and reducing costs.
As his third priority, if elected mayor, John Tory mentioned working productively with provincial and federal governments for the benefit of the city of Toronto.
Moving to the issues related to Ukraine and the Ukrainian-Canadian community, Mr. Tory assured the guests that he remains a long-time and good friend of the community. He also expressed solidarity with Ukrainians and also with Ukraine in this time of war. He called Russia's activities in Eastern Ukraine “unacceptable” and called to stop them and ensure justice and accountability.
In his words, Markian Shwec of Ukrainian Canadian Congress called John Tory “a friend of the Ukrainian-Canadian community”. Mr. Shwec informed the audience that John Tory would often come to Ukrainian community events even uninvited, as opposed to politicians who promised to come and did not come in the end, which the community appreciated.
Mr. Shwec raised the issue of the Holodomor monument which the community has been trying to put in Toronto for several years. The biggest problem so far has been finding a prominent spot for the monument as the community has been offered spots in secondary parks which are not worthy of such a solemn monument to the memory of millions of people who died in the Holodomor. As a responce, Mr. Tory said that it is possible to find an appropriate place for this monument in such a big city as Toronto and that it is just a matter of will.
As an issue for a future mayor, Markian Shwec mentioned the idea to step up Toronto's current friendship agreement with Kyiv to a twinning agreement. Mr. Shwec proposed that, since a Toronto city delegation visited Ukraine several years ago, it would be appropriate to invite a Kyiv city delegation headed by the newly elected mayor, former heavy-weight boxing champion Vitali Klytchko to Toronto this time.
During the discussion of the war in the Donbas, Yuri Shymko, President of the International Council in Support of Ukraine, raised the issue of Russia's information war on Ukraine on the global scale. Mr. Shymko addressed John Tory in his capacity as a member of the board of directors of Rogers Communications to consider removing the Russia Today channel from Rogers Cable. John Tory promised to raise that issue at Rogers and suggested raising the issue at the regulatory bodies.
When asked by the New Pathway about the idea to name the Bloor West Village “Ukrainian Village”, John Tory seemed open to the idea and said that it would be subject to consultation with all others in the Bloor West community. He outright supported the idea of putting tags, which would mention the Ukrainian community, on street signs in the Bloor West Village.