NDP candidate Cathy Crowe says she decided to challenge Liberal Glen Murray once again because whenever she goes out, she sees support on the streets.
“One of the reasons I decided to run is that I can’t go anywhere in the riding without people telling me to run,” said the Toronto Centre hopeful. “I feel like I’ve tried so much from the outside to make changes … So I did it.”
Crowe, who said she’s been an NDP member for decades, has been a nurse for more than 25 years and currently serves as executive director of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, an organization that advocates on behalf of the homeless.
She ran against Liberal incumbent Glen Murray in the 2010 byelection after George Smitherman resigned, coming in second with 33 percent of the vote.
Crowe said she decided to run again because she doesn’t have confidence in the Liberal or Progressive Conservative governments to improve the lives of Ontario residents, and she feels the NDP’s momentum will transfer to the provincial level.
“I’ve continued to watch things get worse,” she said. “And naturally, the federal election results buoyed my spirits.”
She also said strong support from the district’s younger residents have made her feel like she has a good chance of winning.
“We have a very strong youth movement in this riding that encouraged me,” she said. “That’s quite inspiring.”
For 22 years now, Crowe has worked as a community health nurse focusing specifically on the homeless. She wrote a book on the topic, titled Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out, and said it’s an ever-present issue in the city.
“It’s pretty shocking, given the richness in our country,” she said. “Unfortunately the numbers kept getting worse … More and more people are going homeless.”
She has worked for Toronto Public Health and in communities such as South Riverdale and Regent Park.
Apart from homelessness, Crowe is passionate about health care, and if elected said she would move immediately to allocate the funding for two nurses that the city did not accept.
“Nurses in general have been really insulted and shocked by that,” she said. “It really makes you question Mayor Ford’s decision-making abilities.”
She also said she would urge the province to get involved in what are traditionally municipal issues, such as the funding of libraries and community centres.
“You can’t always separate provincial issues from municipal issues,” she said. “With what’s currently going on in the city of Toronto, provincial representatives have to play a large role in supporting and trying to save their communities.”
Her biggest municipal concerns: the potential closing of libraries, user fees being imposed on community swimming pools, the lack of subsidized housing and the spread of bedbugs.
“I know a lot of people say (bedbugs) can’t be a provincial issue, but it is,” she said. “It’s in condos, it’s been in a number of hospitals in Toronto, and it’s definitely in social housing.”
She said while she appreciates Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle’s bill to make landlords disclose any previous history of bedbugs to tenants, not enough is being done to combat the problem apart from spreading public information pamphlets.
“There’s nothing to do with funding of infrastructure of older buildings, or funding organizations to help people that are vulnerable, disabled or just older,” she said. “Something has to be done provincially so that there’s actually funding that goes to housing.”
As an MPP, she would push for the province to deem bedbugs a public safety hazard.
Crowe has lived in Toronto Centre for about 25 years and currently resides in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. She is divorced, and has a daughter and three granddaughters. She turned 59 in July.