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Electoral rematch set for Ward 26

Mohamed Dhanani will try to topple John Parker
By Kris Scheuer

March 3, 2010

Neighbourhoods: North Leaside / Leaside / Flemingdon Park / Thorncliffe Park

Originally published in our Leaside-Rosedale print edition(s).

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Mohamed Dhanani is ready for a to try again to best Don Valley West Councillor John Parker.

Dhanani came within 214 votes of Parker in the 2006 election. At that time, there was no incumbent as then councillor Jane Pitfield ran for mayor instead leaving the ward wide open.

Then, 15 candidates ran but it was the top three contenders who had the best shot with Parker garnering 3,369 votes, Dhanani gathering 3,155 and Abdul Ingar gaining 2,940 votes.

The third place finisher Ingar is not running in 2010 and is instead throwing his support behind Dhanani.

“Between him (Ingar) and I, we had 40 percent of the votes last time. Parker won with 20 percent,” said Dhanani.

But 2010, councillor Parker has incumbency on his side.

Dhanani is taking this re-run seriously.

“To have a shot, I will work full time on my campaign,” said Dhanani, who registered on Feb. 26.

In mid-February, Dhanani left his job working for the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Brad Duguid so he could devote himself to
the municipal campaign.  

This will mean dipping into his savings while the incumbent “continues to receive a paycheck until election day,” said Dhanani.

He also worked for pervious provincial energy and infrastructure ministers Gerry Phillips and George Smitherman.

Those Liberal connections may come in handy.

“We will have a broad coalition from left to right leaning including some current politicians,” said the married father of two.

For a few years, Dhanani has been a director on the board of the Flemingdon Food Bank. One of his accomplishments is to help secure a new site for the food bank in the Flemingdon Health Centre after it was kicked out of a local plaza.

Dhanani also helped develop a new operating structure for food bank. It was run by the Flemingdon Anglican Ministry but will now be operated by a coalition of four Muslim organizations and three churches.

“It helps with fundraising and volunteering. We did our first ever Ramadan food drive last fall. We raised 10,000 pounds of food for the food bank,” said the 38-year-old.

Dhanani was also chair of Toronto’s Central Local Health Integration Network and managed a $4 billion budget. During his time at the LHIN, he worked on reducing wait times for hip and knee replacement surgery.

“We created a centralized intake,” he said.

So it no longer mattered if you knew a specific surgeon, everyone went into the registry and placed in a priority sequence. Plus surgeons became more focused on operating and assessing patients rather than administration, Dhanani explained.

He hopes his experience will help him on council.

“I am running to put a vision forward to create a culture of cooperation to build a better city,” he said.

If elected, Dhanani said, he would be the first ever Muslim member of Toronto city council.

At press time, two candidates other candidates had registered: councillor Parker and Jon Burnside.

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