John Sewell on The Charter City

On October 21, 2020, ARM Chapter 12, as part of its “Luncheon” series, hosted a presentation on The Charter City. Special guest was former mayor of Toronto, John Sewell. Attached is a pdf of the slideshow used in the presentation.


The following, is the introduction of Mr. Sewell by ARM Chapter 12 Vice President, Ed Preston:


If one sentence could define John Sewell, it’s “You don’t have to accept the status quo, in fact you shouldn’t accept the status quo.” John has spent the greater part of his adult life challenging the status quo in a number of roles. Full disclosure: John and I attended Malvern CI at the same time and played basketball and football together. As I recall, he was a ferociously determined athlete, an attitude that he carried into public life.


As a young adult, after being admitted to the Ontario Bar, he embarked on his career as an urban activist, giving voice to those who most needed it. HIs trademark of jeans, a turtle neck, long hair, and a bicycle singled him out from the usual legal crowd. He carried this persona into urban politics, serving as a member of council, and eventually as mayor in 1978.


He has been at the forefront to advocate on behalf of gays and lesbians, TTC fare reform, expanded TTC service, residents of public housing, affordable housing for low income families, a body to register complaints against Metro Police, protecting neighbourhoods, involving citizens in City Hall decisions, improved land use planning for Ontario, and so on. If there was something that should have been addressed to make Toronto a more liveable city, you can be sure John was involved.


John has distinguished himself as an author, a journalist, a university lecturer, international urban consultant (South Africa, Malawi, and Kenya), and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2005.


His active participation in greater autonomy for Toronto from the province  goes back to to the early Mike Harris years, who brought in the Toronto megacity by amalgamating the 6 local municipalities, against the wishes of over 75% of Toronto voters in the March 1997 referendum. At that time, John as leader of Citizens For Local Democracy, fought to prevent the amalgamation, and the blatant interference in Toronto’s affairs. More recently, we have seen the Ford provincial government interfere in our municipal elections that were underway,  by drastically reducing the number of Councillors.


Today, John will be outlining what Charter City status would mean for Toronto, and why it’s so necessary.

As well, here is the pdf of his slideshow:

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