Dear friends,

As summer tips into fall and election day is suddenly just ahead, I’m writing to you with an urgent request. On Sept. 8 the NDP will nominate its candidate in Toronto St. Paul’s. It’s my pleasure and honour to ask for your support for a fine candidate, Alok Mukherjee.

Let me set the context. The pundits are saying that Justin Trudeau has “disappointed” Canadians. Well, I’m not disappointed: after more than six decades as a voter, I have learned not to expect Liberals to keep their promises once they gain power. Like many of you, however, I was intensely relieved to see the mean-spirited, destructive Stephen Harper booted from office, and I shared the general optimism that the new government would take a more progressive approach.

But on every single issue that matters to me, and to all New Democrats —climate change, universal child care, women’s equality, affordable housing, indigenous rights, electoral reform, economic fairness, expanded health care —Trudeau’s government has used every trick in the political playbook to avoid real change. Commissions, committees, studies, apologies —lots of apologies — endless statements about “getting it right”. Then, just before the election, the old promises are brushed off and cynically trotted out again.
Had enough? It’s time to choose a strong and effective candidate to replace the Liberals in Toronto St. Paul’s.

You may well remember Alok Mukerjee as the highly respected Chair of the Police Services Board, appointed by then-Mayor David Miller in 2004. The 10 years of Alok’s tenure were a difficult time in the history of policing in our city. Remember the frightening violations of people’s civil and human rights during the infamous G20 summit in 2010? There were terrifying examples of over-policing, carding, racial profiling of young people who were Black, indigenous, mentally ill and/or poor. Alok’s handling of these issues showed his capacity to listen, his sound judgement, his sense of fairness and his courage in the face of Conservative law-and-order politicians.

Alok’s commitment to justice goes way back. He was the Race Relations Advisor to the Toronto Board of Education in the 1980s. He was Acting Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in the 1990s when it ordered the province to provide benefits to same-sex couples. He repeatedly tackled issues of race and sex discrimination against nurses in Toronto’s hospitals. He campaigned for a ban on handguns and helped to develop progressive innovations on aboriginal policing, environmental responsibility and employment equity. As a police services leader, Alok was often the first in Canada to promote these enlightened policies.

As a writer, I can’t resist pointing out that Alok wrote a startlingly honest and powerful book, with journalist Tim Harper, called “Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing”.

I’m excited by the prospect of Alok Mukerjee challenging the Liberal incumbent in Toronto St. Paul’s and bringing his passion and wisdom –and the NDP’s bold platform — to the voters’ doorsteps. I hope you’ll join me in voting for him as a candidate of whom we can be proud.

Thank you!

Michele Landsberg