Big mayoral upsets in Kingston and Stratford highlighted the 2,000 municipal and school board elections in Ontario.
Karen Haslam, a former cabinet minister in the Rae government (and partner of CUPE rep Duncan Haslam) scored a huge upset in Stratford, defeating incumbent mayor Dave Hunt. Haslam picked up 6,305 votes to Hunts 4,228. The win was particularly sweet because Hunt was at the helm when municipal workers in CUPE Locals 197 and 1385 waged a lengthy and bitter strike over wages and concessions in May 1999.
Further east, Kingstons incumbent mayor was defeated handily by former Kingston Township Reeve Isabel Turner, who says boosting staff morale will be one of her first priorities.
Turner knocked off Gary Bennett, who was at the centre of an equally nasty strike by 650 members of CUPE Local 109, just over a year ago. Municipal workers had set out to defeat the incumbent. The mayor-elect says she intends to ask staff for solutions, rather than turning to privatization for service improvements.
Local 109 recently teamed up with community activists to defeat a council proposal to privatize Kingstons garbage and recyling by a vote of 16-0.
In Toronto, though the mayoral race was a foregone conclusion, most of the labour-friendly candidates given the nod by CUPE were successful. Political observers are describing the new city council as having shifted to the left.
On the heels of a stunning, 11th-hour defeat of his Adams Mine trash plan, Mel Lastman will now have to contend with a more balanced council as he wrestles with issues like privatization of public services and solving Torontos garbage crisis.