Article: Garbage Seen as Way to Unseat Lastman Allies

James Rusk, Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2000.

TORONTO — A coalition of environmental groups and politicians have set their sights on dethroning some of Mayor Mel Lastman’s key council allies this November, using the city’s controversial plan to ship garbage north as the weapon.

If the coalition succeeds in what some view as a high-risk political strategy, the makeup of the new council after the Nov. 13 municipal election will include more members from the left wing.

Those targeted include deputy mayor Case Ootes, a key ally of Mr. Lastman and several councillors, including Rob Davis, Milton Berger and Bill Saundercook, who reliably vote with the mayor.

Mr. Ootes is in a close race with Gail Nyberg, the former chairwoman of the Toronto District School Board. Mr. Berger’s opponent is Anne Johnston, who is a member of council. Mr. Saundercook, chairman of the city’s works committee, is in a race against David Miller, another member of council. Mr. Davis, who is vice-chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, is running against another TTC member and city council member, Joe Mihevc.

Mayoralty candidate Tooker Gomberg, a Greenpeace activist and former Edmonton councillor, is also part of the effort to make the shipment of garbage north a municipal election issue.

While Mr. Gomberg, an unknown in Toronto politics, is not given a chance of beating Mr. Lastman, he is trying to raise awareness of the Adams Mine, the proposed dump site, and homelessness in Toronto, one city hall source said.

Council’s works committee will consider the contract tomorrow that the city plans to sign with the consortium turning the abandoned open-pit iron-ore mine near Kirkland Lake into a garbage dump.

The contract will then be considered at the Oct. 2 meeting of city council, the final meeting before the municipal election.

While opponents hope to delay final approval of the contract until after the election, they are also trying to ensure that, no matter what happens, garbage will be an election issue.

Inside city hall, the focal point for the coalition is Councillor Jack Layton and his office staff. Mr. Layton said in an interview yesterday from Fredericton, where he was attending a federal-provincial meeting of housing ministers, “I think the Adams Mine contract is the single worst decision this council has made and is so fundamentally wrong I hope the people who voted for it lose.”