Recently elected Toronto-Danforth MP Craig Scott is already a familiar face in this riding.
As he walks down Dundas Street, a man stops his car and yells out “Hey, Craig!”
Walking into Red Rocket Coffee on Logan Avenue, two residents enjoying a beverage wonder if it is who they think it is before enthusiastically saying “It is Craig Scott! I voted for you!”
Scott takes his newfound celebrity status in stride.
“It was probably more common during the campaign because people were in a heightened state of awareness,” he said. “And, my picture was everywhere.”
The Riverdale resident got a chance to reflect on his first week at the House of Commons and identify some local concerns in a recent walk around the neighbourhood with the Town Crier.
One of the more lighthearted moments was when he was “dragged” into the House of Commons by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, which is a tradition for members elected during byelections.
“The tradition is you’re supposed to pretend like you resisting, but I was having too much fun,” Scott said. “I didn’t play a very good reluctant MP.”
But it was not all fun and games during Scott’s first week, where he grilled the government on recent cuts to the CBC.
He identified the issue as locally important not only because he believes the network plays a valuable role in Canadian culture and heritage, but also because of the jobs it creates.
“On a more local level, this riding has a very high percentage of people who do work in the arts, culture and news and journalism fields,” he said. “And so they’re super aware of the importance of the institution.”
He said cuts to the National Film Board are a further example of what he sees as the Conservative government’s disdain for arts and culture.
“It’s part of a broader context of attacks on both culture and knowledge,” Scott charged.
The Toronto-Danforth rep said residents have also been galvanized around the issue of the Port Lands development ever since Ward 2 councillor Doug Ford proposed wresting control of the area from Waterfront Toronto in order to speed up development.
For Scott, the priority is integrating development with local neighbourhoods and looking at how the Port Lands can enhance the film industry while remaining environmentally sustainable.
“This could be one of the most significant projects the city has ever seen, and it’s all in this riding,” said Scott. “So I want to be on top of it.”
He said he would like to see the development utilize forms of energy such as wind and solar not only to make the development zero impact in terms of energy consumption, but perhaps even have it as an energy generator.
Scott also said the government needs to do more to educate itself on challenges facing aboriginal people in Toronto.
“One area of people’s lives and corresponding policy that has really flown under the radar is the urban aboriginal experience, which itself is varied,” Scott said.
“But the fact is, we’re legitimately focused on the 600-odd First Nations communities around the country and we forget that probably an equal amount of Aboriginal Canadians are living in cities,” he added.
The local connection is further underscored by the fact the First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto is located just steps from Scott’s transitional constituency office.
“The fact that we have a First Nations school in this riding, it just signals to me that I have maybe more of a responsibility than most MPs to get my mind around that,” Scott said.
Scott said he’s eager to take that issue and a multitude of others to Parliament Hill.
“I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I didn’t take this opportunity,” he said.