In their own words, candidates tell us a little bit about themselves and where they stand on the issues. A different ward will be featured each evening this week.
Name: Danny Drew
Occupation: I have only the time and energy to be able to run for office due to the recent death of my father and the subsequent sale of his house by my brother and I. The amount of learning and work associated with preparing for a serious election campaign makes “democracy” inaccessible to the majority of people who have to work for a living.
In addition, though, I’ve been using my increased free time to more frequently help out a number of poverty relief efforts in town with both my labour and with necessities that I prevent from being wasted, as well as campaigning for change outside of government channels.
How long have you lived in Guelph? Since 2009 when I came to the U of G to study mechanical engineering. Since graduating, I’ve gone for brief periods to see other places and people, but it’s always brought me back. Of course I’ve been tempted – as seemingly every Guelphite has been – to move to Montreal, Halifax, or out West, but I love Guelph and I could never really consider moving anywhere else.
Why are you running in this election? I intend to expand people’s political horizons, to show them that there are options for addressing the ever growing number of capitalist crises we face. Climate chaos, unaffordable basic needs, opiate epidemics, viral pandemics permitted to ravage the globe. These aren’t natural disasters, but are imposed by the owning class to increase profits.
To break people from the feeling of helplessness that pervades our time and place in history.
To inspire hope, and thus action.
To show people they don’t have to wait and wish for, but can demand what is rightfully theirs: A real society. One that provides for everyone, allowing each person to fully develop and flourish as an individual rather than just awaiting the day their bodies are crushed and discarded when they can no longer bear the weight of carrying an insatiable capitalist class on their back.
What qualifies you to represent your ward city? I’ve spent a large part of the last decade acting and organizing to improve our society, or at least stop it from growing more unequal and unjust. I know the struggles, wants, and needs of those people who’ve been left with nothing by our society, and am close to many who know them better than I.
I know the struggles of the working class, and I know the moving parts that keep our economy functioning.
I have a system of ethical values behind my concept of ‘efficiency, rather than just a pure drive to growth and profit at any unpayable human and environmental cost.
I’m not a politician in the usual sense. I don’t care if I ruin my “career” or make enemies of the powerful. If I’m elected, I’ll fight tooth and nail to make things better for the people from within the cage of the liberal state. At least for those people who haven’t built fortunes through exploitation.
Why should people vote for you? People should vote for me because I mean to change things to the very extent of what provincial and federal law imposes on municipalities, rather than maintain our current path, which is a nosedive into oblivion. People are waking up to the fact that our economy and society aren’t built for them. We’re just parts of a machine which makes a line go up and down, rarely for our benefit but often at our expense; mostly for those that profit off of our life and labour.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Housing is unaffordable and effectively guaranteed to only increase in cost the way the market operates here. A slap in the face by the invisible hand. We’re being gouged for food and utilities by corporations that are so large and powerful that they act as de facto monopolies, driving inflation in the hunt for greater profits. Our alienation from those around us has reached a level in recent years that many people live in completely different realities from one another.
Our city is built and is being built for developers, cars, hunger, and loneliness, when everything we need is right here. We don’t have to suffer for a growth that brings us only more suffering. Market-growth or expansion-based revenue increases don’t matter when they all go to subsidize suburbs and pay police to punish people for being made desperate by economic hardship.
We don’t have to accept this.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? I want to change our trajectory completely. For years we’ve been headed straight into a neoliberal hell of alienation, inequality, and injustice. No number of corporate subsidies or police will eliminate the poverty and loneliness that this society produces. We need community and efficient, just distribution of resources. We don’t need mass surveillance and sprawling, eerie suburbs.
I want the focus of our government changed. From profit for profit’s sake, savings for saving’s sake, to saving people and profiting for everybody.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? I’d say the most pressing ones are transit and social services such as housing and mental health care. Neither are funded enough to more than nominally serve their purposes, and so a lot of money is effectively wasted in trying to save a buck. Sure, it’d be cheaper to buy a bike with no wheels, but it won’t really do its job and you’ve still spent the money. If you can afford a quality pair of boots – and we have money in this city, it’s just ill-spent – that one pair will outlast 4 pairs of cheap ones, and you end up saving money over time.
Our paramedic services are chronically underfunded as well. This is unacceptable when they save more lives than any number of police.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? With regards to the primary limiting factor on growth for Guelph, water supply, we aren’t necessarily growing too quickly, but there is a definitive limit on our growth without taking extreme measures. If growth is expected to continue indefinitely – regardless of Council’s current position on the Lake Erie pipeline – eventually a massively expensive and ecologically disruptive project of this sort will need to be undertaken. Growth is often assumed to be both good and inevitable, but this isn’t necessarily true. We can grow to be better without growing out.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? I’m not coming for the grandmother who rents out her basement to help shore up the CPP payments that no longer cover her expenses, but for those who would hold housing hostage to squeeze some free money out of the working class.
Via municipal government: Hard nosed dealing with developers such that a significant proportion of new housing be slated not as “affordable”, but as social housing will help stem sprawl as well as help ensure people have a place to live.
Forming, funding, and supporting community land trusts will also help to combat the unsustainable increases in cost of living resulting from the commodification of land and shelter.
Outside of the municipal mandate, promoting the formation of Tenant’s Unions would help even the power imbalance between renters and landlords, especially when it comes to the immense property management groups that own an ever increasing proportion of the housing supply.
My full platform, available on my website, has some specific and detailed changes that could be made to make housing work for people, not just REITs.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? Auditing Wellington Social Services, in particular the housing division is necessary. The condition of the housing maintained by WCSS is frequently atrocious and the supply they manage is too small given their funding.
Increasing the supply of social and geared-to-income housing is crucial. Affordable housing is not affordable to the majority of people.
One immediate step that can be taken is to stop enforcement of camping laws and establish a formal working relationship with Waterloo Region on the matter.
Increasing the funding and powers of the Poverty Task Force will help them to better serve their purpose. Not so long ago, a large camp was destroyed as the force could only look on and say “Please don’t, this is foolish and cruel.”
Beyond this, more funding to social mental health services is needed. Practitioners with, for example, the CHC have far too many clients to manage and help effectively. They do their best, but there’s simply not enough of them to be able to manage.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? The de-commodification of community spaces would do some good. A farmers’ market has no business being privatized.
The de-gentrification of commercial zones would be worth pushing for to revitalize the local music and arts scene. There are fewer – and even fewer affordable ones among them – venues to play or attend a show.
Any link to an election website or social media account?