By: Mike Anderson
With a federal election due to be called on or before October 21, the Liberal Party of Canada is calling for potential candidates to run against Conservative MP Scot Davidson in York-Simcoe.
YRDSB trustee Elizabeth Terrell-Tracey is first out of the gate, announcing last week on Facebook that she is seeking the Liberal nomination.
While Ms. Terrell-Tracey has served as a YRDSB trustee for East Gwillimbury/Whitchurch-Stouffville for less than a year, she won the position in the 2018 election by a sizeable majority of 9,344 votes.
Ms. Terrell-Tracey has proven she can win, but it’s fair to say that she comes to the nomination with some baggage.
On June 17, Ms. Terrell-Tracey was sanctioned by the YRDSB after it received complaints about her conduct on social media, where she was alleged to have made online comments that were considered to be “xenophobic, racist and hurtful.”
Ms. Terrell-Tracey disputes that claim.
“I’m not a racist. I’m from downtown Toronto,” she says. ” I’m a multicultural person. I grew up in Little Italy, so I am not what people perceive me to be.”
The YRDSB sanctions were sparked by a tweet that she sent to Desmond Cole, a Black activist and freelance journalist, who was critical of her election to the school board.
The tweet contained lyrics from a slavery-era spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Ms. Terrell-Tracey denies there was an intent to mock or denigrate Mr. Cole.
“It was a miscommunication,” she says. “I quoted a song, which was a religious song, but it upset certain people that took it the wrong way.”
However, Ms. Terrell-Treacy was also criticized for a private Facebook message that was made public during the 2018 school board election, in which she focused on the heritage of her opponent Lena Singh.
According to media reports at the time, Ms. Terrell-Tracey’s Facebook message stated:
“Just so you know she was born in Guyana. You are backing someone not born in Canada for our school board trustee…. ‘Born in Guyana in a village and raised by a village.'”
After that message was made public, Ms. Terrell-Tracey claimed her account was hacked, and she is still sticking to that story.
The YRDSB sanctions ban Ms. Terrell-Tracey from attending private, advisory and public meetings until June 30th, 2020.
While she still represents her constituents, she is barred from attending school graduations as a trustee, and her ability to communicate with her constituents through her YRDSB email account has been curtailed.
While Ms. Terrell-Tracey understands the seriousness of the sanctions, she decided not to file an appeal because she wants to put it all behind her and move on.
“I didn’t appeal it because I want what’s best for all the students,” says Ms. Terrell-Tracey. “It’s been really hard on me, but at the same time, maybe it’s a way to make peace in the community. I’m ok to be the fall person. I just want to move forward and do something for the Liberal Party.”
While Ms. Terrell-Tracey is the first to seek the Liberal nomination in York-Simcoe, she still faces an uphill battle.
She has obtained only 20 of the 100 nomination signatures required, and will still face a review process by several Ontario Liberal MPs and the Ontario Co-Chair of the party’s National Campaign Committee.
While Ms. Terrell-Tracey acknowledges her recent past may disqualify her, she’s guardedly optimistic and confident that she can give MP Scot Davidson a good run for his money. After all, she ran in two previous municipal and school board campaigns, before being elected in 2018.
“Having run in multiple past campaigns gives me the experience to take it to the next level,” says Ms. Terrell-Tracey. “I am not afraid to run against the Conservative Party. If I become the Liberal candidate for York-Simcoe, I will be a contender, and I look forward to the challenge.”