Brampton is the one to watch

Move over Toronto. Brampton’s mayoral race is the one to watch. With some high profile, highly capable and experienced talent, no matter who claims the title, it looks like Brampton’s in for a win.

One of the names out to unseat incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey is Patrick Brown. The Review sat down with him to get a sense of the person behind the politics.

First impressions? All business. He arrives at his sparsely furnished campaign office on time, casually dressed, soft drink in hand and keen to get going. Brown exudes a no-time-to-waste work ethic. He’s used to long hours, the kind demanded of any mayor, and it’s apparent that he likes to embrace each day, live it to the fullest and be a doer.

His morning fuel? ”I have a little caffeine to get the day kick-started,” he says. “I don’t necessarily have breakfast; there are often breakfast meetings I’m headed to. Generally, I’m on the go seven in the morning to midnight, so I don’t really hang around the home too long.”

After stepping down from a political career that started with city councillor, then MP, then MPP and all the way to official opposition leader at Queens Park, Brown returned to law and to Brampton, where he grew up. Before that impressive career trajectory, he practiced law and says, “A career in law is certainly a lot more lucrative than remuneration in politics but for me it’s not about that, it’s about public service.”

He felt the gratification that a career in politics can provide. As a municipal councillor, it was helping to get a recreation centre built; then as an MP, gaining long-overdue infrastructure investment; as opposition leader, helping reverse a government decision to cut funding for autistic children.

“In politics,” he says, “it’s the ability to change people’s lives for the better.”

His father, with his Italian lineage, immigrated to Canada from Ireland. His mother is from Angus, Ontario. At age 77, his father still practices criminal law in Brampton, and his mother served as principal across GTA’s Catholic school system.

It becomes clear that Brown wants to talk less about himself and more about Brampton. He leans forward, clasps his hands on his desk and points out how underserved Brampton has been for far too long. To illustrate, he compares Brampton and Scarborough populations. Brampton is quickly approaching 600,000 while Scarborough, at 112,000 and with a small fraction of the land mass of Brampton, is receiving six billion upper-tier government dollars for transit infrastructure. The Wynne government offered Brampton a little more than one billion, but then withdrew the offer. Brown says that’s unacceptable and he wants to make sure Brampton gets its proper funding share.

On Brampton’s infamous vehicle insurance rates, the highest in the province, as opposition leader, Brown proposed ending geographical rate discrimination back in November 2017. The PCs ratified his proposal with 95 per cent support and the Ford government intends to address the proposal, which still stands, before Christmas 2018.

Maclean’s magazine’s 2018 list of most dangerous places to live in Canada has Brampton/Mississauga at 170 out of 229 communities. The analysis includes drug and alcohol-impaired driving, and though Brown believes marijuana legalization is premature, he acknowledges it’s here and notes that there will be pressure on police services to keep drug and alcohol impaired drivers off the roads. A safer community tops Brown’s agenda and he’s calling for more police resources.

His non-partisan political philosophy? “There’s no monopoly on good ideas, they can come from any corner.”

The municipal vote is Oct. 22.

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