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Mitzie Hunter wants to 'take her experience and offer it to the city of Toronto'


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles on the seven leading contenders in Toronto’s mayoral race, according to polls. Additional profiles will be published in the coming days.

Shortly before starting university, Toronto mayoral candidate Mitzie Hunter wrote down a list of her life’s goals on a sheet of paper. One of her objectives was to run for public office.

In 2013, the long-time Scarborough resident fulfilled that dream when she was nominated as the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the provincial riding of Scarborough-Guildwood. Hunter, a proud Jamaican-Canadian, won that contest on August 1, Emancipation Day, and went on to serve as an MPP for the next decade.

During her time at Queen’s Park, she held a number of key roles, including associate Minister of Finance, Minister of Education, and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. She also served as the party’s deputy leader from 2022 to 2023.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) celebrates with Mitzie Hunter after Hunter won the riding of Scarborough-Guildwood in an Ontario provincial by-election on Thursday August 1, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Now, with the unexpected resignation of former Toronto mayor John Tory, Hunter has set her sights on leading Canada’s largest city.

“I want to take my experience and offer it to the city of Toronto,” she said during a sit-down interview with CP24. “I believe we need a revival in our city. … We need a city that is not at a breaking point. We need to turn this around.”

From the start of her campaign, Hunter has ruled out using ‘strong mayor’ powers to get things done.

She is one of only a handful of the leading candidates to make that commitment, alongside Josh Matlow and Olivia Chow. Instead, Hunter said as mayor her focus will be to build consensus by collaborating with council members and engaging with Torontonians to understand what they care about and need.

Hunter said as Toronto’s mayor she’ll be “practical and pragmatic, fair, open and approachable,” not to mention “out and about constantly.”

“It is very important to me to meet the expectations of people everywhere in Toronto. And I want their expectations to be high both for their city and for their mayor,” she said.

Her platform includes a costed “Fix the Six” plan, which outlines six priorities “for a Toronto that works for everyone,” including a six per cent property tax increase in 2024 and 2025 that will help pay for many of her commitments.

Hunter says that she will also create a city-run agency to build 108 new developments on city-owned land. She says that her plan would help deliver more than 22,000 new units of housing, with approximately two-thirds of those offered with rents at or below the average market rate.


Hunter immigrated to Canada in 1975 when she was just three years old.

She has a long history of public service that began in earnest when was school council president at Scarborough’s Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute.

While studying political science at University of Toronto Scarborough in the early 90s, Hunter also got involved in student government spearheading an initiative called Mosaic that aimed to combat xenophobia by bringing together diverse groups at the school to foster dialogue and celebrate art, food and culture. Her efforts resulted in the university’s first-ever Cultural Awareness Week, which still exists to this day.

During her university days, Hunter she started her own marketing and communications company and was able to land a number of local clients, especially in the Scarborough area.

“It really showed me what community was about,” she told

Hunter said that her business allowed her to earn the money she needed to pay her tuition, but also helped her acquire skills that aligned with her future aspirations.

While in still in school, Hunter also worked for Bell Canada in direct marketing. Before long, she was offered a management role and was tasked with helping to motivate one of the lowest-producing.

“I am not last place ever. … My goal is to be number one,” she said.

Long-time Scarborough resident Mitzie Hunter is one of 102 candidates running to led Canada's largest city. Hunter recently sat down with to discuss why she's running and what she feels she can bring to the city. (Joanna Lavoie/CP24)

Her next opportunity was with Goodwill Industries where she initially worked in IT and then became the organization’s vice president of marketing.

To grow her skill set, Hunter decided to go back to school in 2007 and obtained an MBA from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

She then landed at Toronto Community Housing Corporation where she worked as its Chief Administrative Officer.

“I got to use all of my skill sets, especially strategy,” Hunter said of that stage in her career, which also included identifying where more investment was needed in the city’s social housing stock.

“I was the first to call out and sound the alarm. I helped make the case to the city and other levels of government for the urgent need for funding.”

In a volunteer capacity, she was involved with the Toronto City Summit Alliance as well as co-founded the Emerging Leaders Network. Hunter also helped create Toronto Global, which is now known as the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, a public-private partnership aimed at fostering foreign investment opportunities.

In 2010, Hunter landed what she calls “dream job” after being recruited to serve as the CEO of CivicAction, a Toronto-based non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to boost civic engagement and address urban challenges in the GTHA.

“I really got to dive into city building there,” she said.

Three years later, she began her career as a Liberal MPP in Scarborough.

She ran for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party following the resignation of Kathleen Wynne, but finished fourth at the March 2020 leadership convention.

“Public service has always been in my heart,” she said.

Hunter, who is 51, said she loves Toronto and wants to see it thrive.

“We live in a fabulous city and I'm so proud to tell people I live here. But we really need to do more to make it better,” she said.

“There are critical issues that need urgent attention – the lack of affordable housing; improving the TTC so it's safer and more accessible across the city; homelessness and mental health. We can't wait any longer. We need to fix the six now. As mayor of Toronto I will work to do just that and more.”

Long-time Scarborough resident Mitzie Hunter, one of 102 candidates running to led Canada's largest city, speaks during a news conference outside Rosedale station on May 30. Hunter recently sat down with to discuss why she's running and what she feels she can bring to the city. (Joanna Lavoie/CP24)

What Toronto neighbourhood do you call home: The Guildwood area of Scarborough.

What is your Toronto hidden gem: My uncle and aunt's backyard in Scarborough. I love when spring arrives and the weather warms up right through to fall. The gardening and landscape work they've done creates a calm feeling. It's a real happy place for me.

Favourite Toronto bite: The Real Jerk was a spot our family visited to celebrate occasions and enjoy a family night out for dinner. It's still a familiar go-to for us.

Favourite Toronto festival or event: I have to choose one? Oh geez, that's impossible! One of the great things about Toronto's arts and culture scene is that we have so many events all year round from Caribana to Word on the Street, Luminato, TIFF...I can't choose!

Is it the Beach or the Beaches: I know that decades long residents prefer to say they live in 'the beach' and I really respect that. Whenever I'm heading to that part of the city though I do find myself saying , "I'm going down to the beaches"

What was your first job? I worked at a Jamaican patty shop in Scarborough.

What is your favourite song? "I can feel it" by the Jackson 5. It's so uplifting with great energy. It makes me want to get up and dance and wave my hands up in the air! Top Stories

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