5 People to Watch in Mississauga Politics in 2017

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In 2017, myriad issues in Mississauga and Peel will continue to be top of mind for residents. Transit, infrastructure, development and other issues surrounding policing are definitely items to watch for in 2017, but we also should pay attention to some of the political players around the table.

Politicians, and those aspiring for political positions, tend to act somewhat differently a year or so before an election. In 2018, we will have the Ontario provincial election and municipal elections in Mississauga )and across the province) will take place later that year. But it's really this year we have to keep an eye out to see if some familiar faces are making noise because they're thinking about re-election or looking to move onto the next stage of their political careers (or attempt a comeback). Perhaps a few might be looking in the mirror and deciding it's time to call it a day.

Here are five names to watch in Mississauga and Peel politics in 2017.Sue McFadden (Mississauga Ward 10 councillor)

Councillor Sue McFadden is taking Mayor Bonnie Crombie's spot on the Police Services Board as of January 2017 and will remain until December 31, 2018. Mayor Crombie, who served before McFadden took over, has been pursuing a seemingly more activist agenda pertaining to police accountability, streets checks and diversifying police hiring practices. She often butted heads with Chief Jennifer Evans, and alongside Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey and Chair Amrik Ahluwalia, made policing issues relevant to the public.

There may be a slightly different tone this coming term on the Police Board, at least from Mississauga's representative. Councillor McFadden indicated she would take a more constructive approach, and she has indicated that her community (Ward 10) overwhelmingly supports street checks. With the Police Board having to deal with Evans' contract coming up for renewal and a $21 million lawsuit involving a woman who was allegedly shot by an officer, it looks like the Peel Police Services Board will still be dealing with contentious issues in 2017.

But instead of seeing a Mississauga representative spearheading reforms, we may see someone who will side more with Chief Evans' methods in Councillor McFadden and that will be an interesting dynamic to watch.

Karen Ras (Mississauga Ward 2 Councillor)

Ward 2 Councillor Karen Ras is not exactly a household name in Mississauga local politics. She won her council seat in 2014 after the long time incumbent retired and since then has kept a low profile. Her most prominent initiative has been to introduce a motion calling for a ban on door-to-door sales in Mississauga, and it seems the province agreed with Councillor Ras' actions when they introduced legislation to do the same thing across Ontario.

Ras is also one of those rare politicians on council who frequently questions her colleagues and staff about spending and fiscal prudency. She raised hard questions during the 2017 budget debates last month, but her most memorable moment, in my opinion, was when Mississauga council voted to approve spending almost $400,000 on a Cirque Du Soleil-style spectacle called Cavalia and she was the only councillor to ask where the money was actually coming from and not getting too swayed by the fanfare.

I expect Councillor Ras to continue being one a fiscal conservative on council. The majority of council do quip from time to time about controlling costs, but it seems most of them are moving in a general direction of "thinking big" and worrying less about the financial realities Mississauga currently is in. Ras is providing that grounded approach and bringing things back down to a level of sensible reality.

Eve Adams, former Mississauga councillor and MP

There are rumours swirling that former Mississauga councillor and federal MP Eve Adams is looking to make a comeback in municipal politics by running in Ward 4 in 2018. If so, Adams would be running against incumbent councillor John Kovac. She might bring instant name recognition, but for Adams the attention she has received has not always been positive.

After serving on Mississauga City Council from 2003-2011, she opted to run for Parliament as a Conservative and ended up toppling the now Minister of Innovation, Navdeep Bains. Touted as a rising star in the Conservative caucus during her time in Ottawa, Adams' own personal behaviour and antics led to her eventual downfall. The departure from the Conservatives was cemented when she attempted to seek a nomination for re-election in Oakville rather than in Mississauga. When that effort collapsed, she crossed the floor to the Trudeau Liberals and, because Bains ironically secured the Liberal nomination in her redrawn Mississauga riding, she was forced to go into the north end Toronto to run for a Liberal nomination there. She lost the Liberal nod to the now Liberal MP, Marco Mendicino, thus completing her departure from the political stage in 2015.

So Eve Adams, after trying to get elected in three different cities while jumping between two political parties, has found her way back to Mississauga. Insauga reached out to her via email asking her for a comment on these rumours, but so far we have not received a response. But if she does end up getting back into politics, 2017 would be the year when Adams' would have to make her intentions known and plan accordingly if she is serious about winning; she may be recognizable but one of the things about municipal elections is the difficulty of unseating an incumbent, even a rookie like John Kovac.

Whether you're a fan or a detractor of Eve Adams, she definitely will not make things boring if she announces her future plans in 2017, be they as a political candidate or not.


Jagmeet Singh, NDP MPP (Bramalea-Gore-Malton), Ontario NDP Deputy Leader

At only 38 years of age, Singh has been one of the most high profile NDP politicians in the country. It's even rarer that he represents a 905 riding that straddles both Mississauga and Brampton, traditionally not an area rich in political success for New Democrats. The Huffington Post recently did a profile on his background, his career, and his future prospects, and it seems Singh is considered for every high profile political job there is available: federal NDP leader, provincial NDP leader, future cabinet minister should the Ontario NDP get its act together and win an election.

Singh is charismatic, he connects with people and knows how to use social media to his advantage (sounds like a certain young Prime Minister of Canada). Despite his somewhat posh exterior, Singh has been working on issues that not only resonate with people in Mississauga and Brampton, but across Ontario as well. He's been vocal regarding the high costs of auto insurance due to the industry's charging of higher rates in poorer neighbourhoods. And Singh has also spoken out against temporary job agencies, which he says drive down wages and prevent permanent employment.

Expect Jagmeet Singh to make some kind of announcement pertaining to the federal NDP leadership race and whether he's going to run. If not, the Ontario NDP will have a very high profile member which the party can deploy to ridings across Mississauga and Brampton, as well as the rest of the 905, in an attempt to make the NDP more competitive in those areas and actually have a shot at forming government in 2018.

And speaking of high profile potential political figures, here's a curveball to throw out…Pinball Clemons, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts

The former Argo has certainly been one of the most public faces around the Greater Toronto Area not only in Canadian football, but a host of business and philanthropic activities as well. Clemons has been a motivational speaker; he continues to have a role with the Toronto Argonauts and he established his own charitable foundation focusing on youth empowerment through education (and his charity, the Pinball Clemons Foundation, has worked with Mississauga organizations). Such an impressive resume gets the attention of provincial political parties looking for star candidates to bolster their ranks.

Last year, Pinball Clemons was a guest speaker at the Ontario PC party convention, showing his support for party leader Patrick Brown and giving very loud signals that he was interested in being a star candidate for the Tories in the next provincial election. Clemons currently resides in Oakville; no question Brown would want Pinball to run in an Oakville riding in order for the PCs to retake the seat rich 905 from the Liberals and form a government. As a visible minority and an entrepreneurial success story, Clemons would no doubt be deployed to nearby Mississauga and Brampton ridings during a provincial election as a means for the Ontario Tories to show the public the new face of the party in Ontario.

Keep an eye out on Pinball in 2017 to see if he announces that he is going to be a candidate for the Ontario Tories, and as with Jagmeet Singh in the NDP, Pinball may be the viable star candidate that gets people to pay attention to the Tories during the impending provincial election campaign.

This is my own personal list of people to watch in Mississauga/Peel politics for 2017. The amount of influence they would have on Mississauga ranges from direct policy to political fanfare, but it's an interesting group of people to watch. If anyone has suggestions about who else to watch out for in 2017, feel free to provide those suggestions.

Follow me on Twitter at @thekantastic

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