Alonzo Bartley, the candidate for the Green Party of Canada in the Scarborough-Guildwood riding, has been defeated by Liberal candidate John McKay, who has won in the riding for the past 11 years. McKay beat Bartley with 50.27 per cent of the votes, or 18, 035 ballots. According to CBC.ca, Bartley, who was campaigning for the first time, garnered 5.31 per cent of the votes, or 1, 905 ballots.
Although defeated, the 41-year-old mechanical engineer feels that for his first campaign outing he placed very well. Bartley grew up in Scarborough and attended Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute and Woburn Collegiate Institute for his high school years. After graduation, he moved on to Queen’s University and State University of New York at Buffalo.
It was during his high school years that he started to dabble in politics, and he has now much experience in the field. In 2005, while Bartley was a Liberal, he also helped McKay until an incident put an end to their friendship and made Bartley cross over to join the Green Party of Canada. According to Bartley, the now-Liberal MP McKay said behind his back that he would be the kind of person who would ask him for a favour. This angered Bartley who says he prefers people who struggle to achieve what they want, and not those who simply get things handed to them on a silver plate.
While out campaigning, Bartley said he had a chance to hear various issues that were on the residents’ minds. One such recurring issue was unemployment in the riding. According to InsideToronto.com, the Scarborough-Guildwood area has a higher unemployment rate at 8.8 per cent than the national average, which stands at 6.1 per cent. Bartley believes that Scarborough’s shortcomings can be blamed on the type of jobs the area has to offer.
“Look at what we have in this area! Service sector jobs like this,” he said, indicating with his hands to his surroundings as he sat inside a Starbucks. “That’s it! What else do you see within the Scarborough-Guildwood border in terms of jobs? Standing here, I can mention that there are five or six job search offices than there are — like, how about a job? That’s more than a call centre?!”
For the residents of the area, the high unemployment rate is not their sole worry, as crime was also a hot issue that was addressed. The area has a reputation as one that is unsafe and dangerous. Bartley points to prostitution and domestic violence which he says are real issues in the area, especially along Kingston Road and Lawrence Avenue East. What Bartley says Scarborough is lacking are the social services that would, for example, help the women off the streets. He says that in order to seek out those social services and to get help, the women must travel downtown because Scarborough has nothing to offer them. “The answer isn’t necessarily getting tougher on crime; the answer is creating opportunities -creating other avenues for people who see that ‘I can get out of this situation’. People don’t get to pick what families they’re born into, but at least they can see that there are choices that they can make to get out of something,” he said.
Bartley also speaks French and understands Japanese. He also draws comics and storyboards and gets paid for them, as he has done work for Motion Picture, DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Another interesting little piece about Bartley: at age 16 he caught a burglar in his house and received a police citation.
He points out that although Scarborough has earned a less than desirable reputation, the area is actually quite a safe place to live and that the media is to blame.
James MacAdam does not exactly share Bartley’s view that Scarborough has unfairly earned its reputation as a bad area. MacAdam, 23, was volunteering at the East Scarborough Storefront on a day when the candidates were holding a ‘meet and greet’.
MacAdam says he was sitting on the fence between voting Liberal and voting Green, even though he was slightly leaning towards the Liberals. He regards McKay as a solid candidate due to his numerous years of experience and as someone who has a lot to offer. From what he’s seen so far, he considers that the Greens will be better at creating more employment opportunities in the area – specifically for new college graduates- while the Liberals will be better at tackling crime.
“It’s too bad one party wasn’t offering both at the same time,” he said. “It’s a hard decision.”
MacAdam, who has a 17-month-old baby daughter to worry about, is concerned that his neighbourhood is increasingly becoming more unsafe. He grew up in Scarborough and says that as much as he loves it here, the notion that crime in the area seems to be on the rise is making him seriously consider moving away from Scarborough, and possibly settling in Pickering.
Despite his loss, Bartley won’t give up working to change things for the better in Scarborough. He truly believes that the area has a lot of potential and wants to see that its residents’ voices are heard when he presents himself as a candidate in the next election.
“I’m definitely doing this again,” he said. “I can tell you that!”