Cheri DiNovo

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Rev. Cheri DiNovo
Source: Ontario NDP
Ontario MPP
Assumed office
Preceded by Gerard Kennedy
Constituency Parkdale—High Park
Personal details
Born 1950 (age 64–65)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party New Democrat
Spouse(s) Gil Gaspar
Children 2
Residence Toronto
Profession Minister
Religion United Church of Canada

Cheri DiNovo (born c. 1950) is a politician in Ontario, Canada. She is a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who was elected in a by-election on 14 September 2006. She represents the riding of Parkdale—High Park. She is a United Church of Canada minister who served at the Emmanuel-Howard Park congregation in Toronto, Ontario.


A progressive, social justice-oriented minister who favours inclusion of marginalized groups, including women, LGBT people and the poor and homeless into the mainstream of Christian life, DiNovo began her church ministry career in 1992, leaving behind a career in the corporate world, after her husband died in a motorcycle accident. She has two children, Francesca and Damien Zielinski, and is now married to Gil Gaspar.[1]

Before she was elected as an MPP, DiNovo hosted a weekly radio show, The Radical Reverend, on Toronto's CIUT-FM. Her book Qu(e)erying Evangelism: Growing a Community from the Outside In won the Lambda Literary Award in the Spirituality category for 2006.

As of 2013, she continues to appear on CIUT as host of 3 Women, a weekly show in which she moderates a political discussion with two guests, other women in politics at the federal, provincial or municipal levels.[2]


NDP nomination and 2006 Parkdale–High Park by-election

When Gerard Kennedy stepped down as the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Parkdale–High Park, the NDP was not expected to win the seat.[3] With that gloomy outlook in mind, two candidates came forward to contest the NDP nomination: DiNovo and former journalist, and at the time of the nomination, the executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation, Mohamed Boudjenane.[3] The spirited campaign that followed lasted about a month, with both sides signing up large numbers of new members.[3] Boudjenane was endorsed by United Steelworkers of America president Leo W. Gerard and the former president of the Ontario NDP, Andre Foucault. DiNovo had the support of NDP stalwart Michael Lewis[4] and many members of the riding's executive. The nomination meeting took place in the middle of a heat wave on the evening of 17 July 2006, in the Parkdale Collegiate Institute auditorium.[5] The sweltering auditorium was filled with over 300 people, most of them delegates. DiNovo defeated Boudjenane with a comfortable margin.[5][6]

DiNovo defeated Liberal Sylvia Watson in the 14 September 2006 by-election to replace Gerard Kennedy in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. She officially took her seat in the Assembly on 25 September.

During the campaign, DiNovo acknowledged having been both a "street kid" and a user of recreational drugs in her youth. She was criticized for this by Watson's campaign.

The Liberals alleged that DiNovo endorsed the church ordination of pedophiles and axe murderers in Qu(e)erying Evangelism, when in fact she did not, and took DiNovo's past comments about Canadian murderer Karla Homolka out of context, saying the comments compared Homolka to a Christ-like figure, where instead they were used in reference to the dangers of scapegoating. The Liberals also did not mention DiNovo's expression of sympathy for Homolka's victims' families and the undue suffering she believed the media circus surrounding Karla was causing them. Many accused the Liberals of conducting a smear campaign.[7]

Poverty and the $10 minimum wage campaign

On 23 October 2006, a Toronto Star column by Carol Goar said DiNovo had brought a new clarity and assertiveness to the NDP caucus' voice in the Ontario Legislative Assembly.[8] Since entering the Assembly, DiNovo has approached a variety of poverty-related issues, including raising minimum wage and welfare rates in the province, creating more affordable housing and ending the government's tax clawback of the federal child benefit supplement.[8]

Earlier in the year DiNovo had shared her experiences of drugs and poverty as a 15-year-old, in a TV interview first shown on VisionTV on 9 March 2006. She said "I know what its like to live on the streets ... street kids are not bogey men, they are just poor".[9]

39th Parliament election and sessions

DiNovo retained her seat in the 2007 Ontario general election and began serving her term in the Ontario Legislature's 39th Parliament sessions. The Parkdale–High Park campaign featured the same three major candidates as the 2006 by-election, with Watson and David Hutcheon representing the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives respectively. She increased the margin of victory from the 2006 by-election.[10]

When Howard Hampton announced he was stepping down as leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party in June 2008, DiNovo was one of four MPPs, along with Michael Prue, Peter Tabuns and Andrea Horwath, whose names were suggested by party insiders as potential candidates in the 2009 Ontario NDP leadership convention.[11] However, she was quoted in the Toronto Star a few days later as saying that she was unlikely to be a candidate,[12] and she subsequently endorsed Tabuns for the leadership.

In September 2008, DiNovo received some criticism in the press after she allegedly fired her entire office staff by e-mail at 3 a.m. on Labour Day, and then rehired them later the same afternoon. DiNovo claimed that the story, which first appeared in the Inside Queen's Park newsletter and quoted unnamed sources, was a "huge exaggeration" that misrepresented her role in a normal labour negotiation process between her staff and the party office.[13]

She became the Third Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, also known as the "Deputy Speaker", on 26 March 2009.[14] On 16 September 2009, she was promoted to Second Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House.[14]

During the 39th Parliament, DiNovo introduced many bills covering such concerns as Gender Identity,[15] repealing dog-breed specific legislation,[16] inclusionary housing,[17] and safe bicycle passing guidelines.[18] She also co-sponsored an all-party bill, that became law, calling for the commemoration of the Ukrainian genocide known as the Holodomor on the 15th of November each year in Ontario.[19]

40th Parliament election and sessions

DiNovo ran for re-election in the 2011 Ontario general election. Her main opponent was the Liberal Party candidate Courtney Pasternak. Indications from polling in the summer suggested that Pasternak might win; but on election day, DiNovo easily won re-election.[20] Like other districts bordering on the rail link to Pearson Airport from Union Station, she successfully made the project's potential environmental impact on the community as the main issue in the campaign, by coming out against the Liberal's proposal to first use diesel trains and then eventually electrify the line at some future date.[20]

DiNovo was narrowly re-elected in the June 2014 election. She defeated Liberal candidate Nancy Leblanc by 525 votes.[21] She avoided the Liberal success in Toronto that saw three out of four other NDP incumbents go down to defeat.[22]

As of July 2014, she is the party's Caucus Chair and the critic for Urban Transportation, LGBTQ, and Greater Toronto Area Issues.

References and notes

  1. ^ "About Cheri DiNovo". Cheri DiNovo website. Ontario New Democratic Party. 2007-04-22. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. 
  2. ^ 3 Women. CIUT-FM.
  3. ^ a b c Milne, Vanessa (2006-07-13). "Radical reverend star in NDP race". Now Magazine 25 (47). 
  4. ^ brother of former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis, and son of former Canadian NDP leader David Lewis
  5. ^ a b Milne, Vanessa (2006-07-20). "Cheri picking in Parkdale". Now Magazine 25 (47). 
  6. ^ although the NDP follows Roberts Rules of Order to run their meetings, which means the vote count is made public, the exact numbers were not released by the NDP as per an agreement between the two candidates
  7. ^ Canadian Press (2006-09-25). "Fall session begins, Cheri DiNovo sworn in". CTV News Toronto (CTV News). Retrieved 2007-03-01. 
  8. ^ a b Goar, Carol (2006-10-23). "Ontario NDP gets a sparkplug". Toronto Star (Toronto). p. A22. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Cheri DiNovo". 360° Vision. VisionTV. 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2007-04-30. DiNovo talking with interviewer about her youth.
  10. ^ "Parkdale-High Park: Election 2007". Results. CTV. 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  11. ^ Ferguson, Rob; Benzie, Robert (2008-06-14). "Hampton steps aside as Ontario NDP leader". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  12. ^ "Hampton's Departure". Toronto Star (Toronto). 2008-06-17. p. A6. Archived from the original on 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  13. ^ Ottawa Citizen Staff (2008-10-01). "DiNovo calls staffing controversy 'a labour negotiation'". Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa). Archived from the original on 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  14. ^ a b "Cheri DiNovo - Parliamentary History". Cheri DiNovo, MPP (Parkdale--High Park). Ontario Legislative Assembly Information and Technology Services Division. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  15. ^ "Bill 70, Toby's Act (Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity, 2010". Bills and Lawmaking Current Session. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 2010-05-17. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  16. ^ "Bill 60, Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010". Bills and Lawmaking Current Session. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  17. ^ "Bill 58, Planning Amendment Act (Enabling Municipalities to Require Inclusionary Housing), 2010". Bills and Lawmaking Current Session. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  18. ^ "Bill 74, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Safe Bicycle Passing), 2010". Bills and Lawmaking Current Session. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  19. ^ "39:1 Bill 147, Holodomor Memorial Day Act, 2009". Bills and Lawmaking Past & Present. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  20. ^ a b Rubin, Josh (2011-10-07). "Parkdale–High Park: DiNovo fights off challenge". Toronto Star (Toronto). Archived from the original on 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  21. ^ "General Election by District: Parkdale-High Park". Elections Ontario. June 12, 2014. 
  22. ^ Benzie, Robert (8 July 2014). "Andrea Horwath admits election result was ‘bittersweet’". Toronto Star. 

External links