The victories the Conservatives have enjoyed in the federal and municipal elections are not disheartening Mike Colle, the Liberal candidate for the Eglinton-Lawrence area. Nor is the recent trend of cutting up lawn signs promoting the Liberal party abashing his hopes to win the provincial elections.
Colle has been MPP for four consecutive terms, having first been elected in 1995. He is now running for re-election against Conservative candidate Rocco Rossi, and NDP candidate Gerti Dervishi.
Colle, the father of four and grandfather of five, has lived in the area for 30 years and raised his family there, with his wife Sharon.
He went to school at St. Michael’s College, an all boys private school, where he later taught history and coached football. His son Josh Colle, now Councillor of Toronto for Ward 15, also went to St. Michael’s College.
While he and his children attended private school, Colle is a big supporter of public education.
“I am very proud to say that we now have, I think, some of the finest public schools in Canada right here in Eglinton-Lawrence,” he said at an all-candidates debate.
In light of a recent article in the Toronto Star which exposed some private schools for selling high marks to undeserving students, Colle commented that the Liberals believe in, and support public education, and that he helped close down one of the corrupt private schools in his riding.
“I had one of these schools in my riding, at Caledonia and Lawrence. It was called the St James Academy, recruiting students from all over the place under a phony guy. Well, we closed that down,” Colle has said.
After attending high school, he studied history and political science at Carleton University before continuing his studies as Queen’s University. He was a councillor for the City of York before becoming a councillor for the Metropolitan Toronto Council where he served as TTC commissioner. He was also chair of the TTC from 1988 to 1994, and is a big supporter of the TTC, his father never having owned a car and relying on the TTC daily. The building of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is his top priority even though its construction has dragged on for a while.
Colle emphasized his perseverance by promoting himself as a marathon runner and promising not to back down from a fight.
“I tell people, I’m a marathon runner, so therefore I never give up,” Colle said in an interview with myTownCrier.
During his four terms as Liberal MPP, Colle faced many challenges, including saving the Eglinton Theatre and the Oak Ridges Moraine, which is one of his proudest accomplishments.
“Over a million acres of some of the most critically sensitive environmental land in Ontario has been protected under a greenbelt. And that is the opportunity I’ve had as an MPP to take on those battles which I thought were important to me,” Colle said at the time.
He also introduced legislation protecting nannies from exploitation. The bill regulates recruitment agencies of oversees nannies looking for employment in Ontario. Colle, himself being of an immigrant family, speaks passionately about newcomers’ integration in Canadian society and protecting vulnerable workers.
“They [nannies] were being kept in basements, their passports were taken…they were living in fear because they weren’t protected under the Ontario labour code,” Colle said.
Colle’s family emigrated from Italy in 1950, when he was only five. Not all of Colle’s endeavours have been as successful as the Oak Ridge Moraine or Bill 210.
In 2007 he was forced to resign his post as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration after it was found out that the decision-making process for providing year-end grants to organizations had little supporting documentation and transparency.
When the Ontario Cricket Association asked Colle for $150 000 in capital funding so they could upgrade a cricket facility, Colle wrote them a check for $ 1 million. The auditor’s report states that the ministry had no documentation to explain the amount of the grant. The $32 million dollar scandal, however, did not stop Colle from running for office again in 2007, an election which he won. He is now the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, finishing his fourth term as Liberal MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence and is running for re-election on Oct. 6.
* If you want to hear the part of Colle’s speech at the all candidate meeting where he talks about the Oak Ridges Moraine, here is the link: http://www.zshare.net/audio/95145323ca99ae94/
** If you cannot open the link, try Internet Explorer :).
Related photos: The candidates