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Get to know... Ari Goldkind
With Toronto's municipal election on October 27, we're interviewing some of the hopefuls vying for the city's top political seat.

Criminal lawyer Ari Goldkind may be considered an underdog but his sharp tongue and brutal honesty has made him into the Robin Hood of the mayoral race. “It has also cost me inclusion into debates, for reasons you may already know about,” he says, cheekily alluding to his ability to get under Doug Ford’s skin. But Goldkind isn’t deterred. Being on the Fords bad side hasn’t affected his campaign so far because he’s concerned about the one thing Toronto needs—“Investment.” According to Goldkind, it’s time we stop being cheap with our city.

Get to know Ari Goldkind, mayor candidate and anti-Ford campaigner, as he talks bullies, growing up in Forest Hill and the poor state of Toronto’s arts and culture scene.

He’s the type who stands up to bullies. 

Goldkind caused a stir during an October 2nd debate when he poked fun at Doug Ford’s allegedly criminal past and openly accused him and his brother Rob of racism. It’s all in a day’s work for Goldkind, though. “My day job is about standing up to ‘authority’ or those who may not play fair,” the mayoral hopeful says regarding the ease of which he openly mocks the brothers Ford. “My life, and my passion, is about making sure people are being treated fairly and then letting justice take hold from there.”

He’s okay with being the outsider. In fact, he’s used to it. 

Turns out Drake isn’t the only one—Goldkind grew up in Forest Hill but had neither money or wealth growing up, he says. “I was a mature, kind of serious kid,” Goldkind explains. “I always felt like an outsider.” Goldkind is well-aware that he’s the outsider in the race for mayor and credits his upbringing for the reason why he’s comfortable being shelved as a long shot candidate. “It taught me the massive differences in wealth andequality in this city, and made me attuned to how lucky I was to have what I did.”

Rob Ford is the reason he’s running for mayor. 

It’s unlikely that an already successful criminal lawyer would want to take on a position of public service. For Goldkind, it was a move he never thought he would make. “I had no plans to enter politics given how dishonest I think politics [can be] and the amount of pandering you have to do to get votes,” he says.

That all changed thanks to Rob Ford’s recent troubles with the law. “I heard a report about Rob Ford being in another one of his drunken stupors and said to my best friend, ‘I could do a better job than that guy.” That prompted the lawyer to register for candidacy with a platform based on honesty and a refusal to pander. “Luckily, my campaign has caught on,” he says positively.

He believes the arts and culture scene needs to change.

“We let it go,” Goldkind remarks on his belief that TV and movie production has escaped the city, despite reports to the contrary. “It’s time the Mayor does everything he or she can to bring it back.”

It’s not just in the downtown core that needs a change, according to Goldkind. The suburbs are a concern for him. “There’s an arts desert,” he believes of the 905. “[Cultural events in Toronto] are all in a very homogenous, wealthy part of the city,” Goldkind says. “That has to change.”

He doesn’t believe in “something for nothing”. 

“You never get something unless you’re prepared to offer something,” he says of the city, which he believes has long been neglected. Goldkind thinks that Torontonians are finally ready to invest in the city, saying, “The message is resonating. People understand there are no free rides and the idea that there’s all this gravy floating around is nonsense.” The lawyer-turned-candidate is empathetic to the struggles of the average Torontonian. “The Fords took all the gravy. The rest of the city was left out.”

Image via Flickr user wd wilson.
Lauren Pincente is a contributor to Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter.

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