Toronto-Danforth Liberal candidate Julie Dabrusin greets voters outside the Broadview TTC station on Sept. 16.

Julie Dabrusin seeks to close gap between rich and poor

Income inequality and the economy prompted Julie Dabrusin to make the leap from community organizer to Liberal candidate in Toronto-Danforth for the federal election on Oct. 19.

But underlying those economic concerns is her intention to work more closely with local politicians.

“What we’ve had with Stephen Harper is a government that has been unwilling to work with our premiers and our cities,” Dabrusin told the Observer in an interview. “We need to get people back at the table again.”

The 44-year-old lawyer and married mother of two has lived in the Toronto-Danforth riding since 1998. For the past four years, she has spearheaded a number of community initiatives, like founding the Danforth Hunger Squad for Second Harvest, and helping in the campaign to save community pools.

But now she is campaigning in support of the Liberal party’s mandate to buffer the middle class.

One expense that pinches the budgets of middle-class Canadian families is child care. Dabrusin spoke about her own challenges in securing a daycare space for her daughters at the Sept. 15 Toronto-Danforth all-candidates meeting.

“We need to come up with a viable option that attacks three issues: affordability, availability and quality,” she said when interviewed at a meet-and-greet outside the Broadview subway station then next morning.

Dabrusin commented recently on Twitter about the cancellation of the Liberal National Child Care program.

“The National Child Care Program had been a plan that had been individually negotiated with each of the provinces… to respond to those three issues,” she said.

While the Liberal party is providing funds rather than subsidized daycare spots, Dabrusin says there’s more to see from the Liberal party on their child-care policy. She did not have the specific dates for those releases.

Campaign supporter outside Broadview Stn on Sept. 15.
A campaign supporter shows her colours at the Broadview TTC station on Sept. 15. (Paula Last)

She also emphasized that the Liberal party wants a program that works with subsidized daycare spots that already exist.

On housing, Dabrusin supports a full-spectrum investment.

“We need to build supportive housing,” she said. “We need to work with developers to ensure that we can have more rental units available.”

Dabrusin said the Liberal plan is to make funds available immediately for repairs and new units to address a wait list of 90,000 families.

When asked what she would say to people concerned about the impact of social housing on property values, she replied, “We all are stronger when everyone is feeling safe and secure in their environment.”

On transit, Dabrusin said, “Our plan… is to make the largest new investment in infrastructure in history. A portion of that is specifically targeted toward public transit.” Party leader Justin Trudeau has stated that the investment will be $20 million.

But how will those funds apply to the City of Toronto?

“It’s a matter of making the money available to the city and to the province in a reliable stream,” Dabrusin said. This funding model intends to support ongoing planning, rather than allocating funds on a project-by-project basis.

When pressed on Toronto investments like a downtown relief line — a new subway line running east from downtown — Dabrusin deferred to local politicians.

Referring to John Tory’s proposal to augment the subway with an extensive surface rail network, Dabrusin added: “Mayor Tory was elected on the basis of building a SmartTrack. Going forward, how that money is used is going to be decided by local decision-makers.”

Why vote for Julie Dabrusin?

“I have been an active community advocate in Toronto-Danforth for many years,” she said. “I will be a constant and strong advocate for our community to make Toronto-Danforth better.”