Esther Shiner

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Esther Shiner (February 12, 1924 – December 19, 1987) was a municipal politician in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She served on the North York city council from 1973 until her death, and was also a member of the Metropolitan Toronto council. She served as North York's Deputy Mayor in the 1980s.

Early life and career[edit]

Shiner's parents were Jewish refugees from Poland. She was raised in modest circumstances, and attended the University of Toronto for a year before marrying and becoming a homemaker. Shiner was an active Zionist, and was a member of Hadassah in her youth.

Municipal politician[edit]

Shiner was elected as an alderman for North York's fourth ward in the 1972 municipal election. Her primary issue was the Spadina Expressway, which she wanted to extend as far as downtown Toronto. Shiner fought several battles with Premier Bill Davis on this issue, and unsuccessfully tried to have a city-wide plebiscite on extension in 1985. The expressway was partly extended in the 1970s, but Davis blocked any further extensions.

Shiner was elected to the North York Board of Control in 1976, and remained a member until her death. The position gave her an automatic seat on the Metropolitan Toronto Council. She served on Metro's transportation committee for several years, and was a frequent rival to fellow councillor Anne Johnston.[1] She was also appointed to the management board of the O'Keefe Centre for the Performing Arts in 1979, and remained a board member until 1986.[2] Shiner supported the principle of amalgamation for Toronto's six municipal governments in 1978, on the grounds that it would yield a better transportation system.[3]

In 1982, she helped convince North York City Council to name a street after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenburg, who is credited with saving the lives of over 100,000 Hungarian Jews in World War II.[4]

Shiner held conservative views on several issues. She opposed councillor Howard Moscoe's plan for campaign donation limits in 1984, arguing that it would be unworkable.[5] She also criticized an affirmative action plan for North York employees, and suggested that a housing task force for the city could become an expensive waste of time.[6] Shiner considered challenging Mel Lastman for Mayor of North York in 1985, but declined.[7]

She died in December 1987, at age 63. The North York City Council held a moment of silence in her honour in January 1988, and the civic square carillons played "Moon River" and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", two of her favourite songs.[8] Later in the year, the North York Civic Stadium in the Bathurst and Finch area was renamed the Esther Shiner Stadium.[9] Her son, David Shiner, is a municipal politician in Toronto. A street in the Sheppard Avenue and Leslie Street area is named 'Esther Shiner Way' in her honour.

Sources[edit]

  • "Esther Shiner: North York politician earned wide respect" (obituary notice), Globe and Mail, 21 December 1987, A19.

Electoral record[edit]

North York Board of Control, 1985 Toronto election (top four candidates elected)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Esther Shiner 67,345 19.47
(x)Robert Yuill 53,709 15.53
Norman Gardner 51,137 14.78
Howard Moscoe 42,303 12.23
Mike Foster 35,838 10.36
Frank Esposito 21,365 6.18
Bruce Davidson 18,926 5.47
Sonnee Cohen 12,822 3.71
Bernadette Michael 12,764 3.69
Angelo Natale 12,416 3.59
Cora Urbel 7,791 2.25
Arthur Zins 4,961 1.43
Ayube Ally 4,571 1.32
Total valid votes 345,948 100.00

Results taken from the Globe and Mail, 14 November 1985. The final results were not significantly different.
Electors could vote for four candidates. The percentages are determined in relation to the total number of votes.

North York Board of Control, 1982 Toronto election (top four candidates elected) (1,311 of 1,329 polls reporting)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Esther Shiner 67,673 19.56
Barbara Greene 57,948 16.75
(x)Robert Yuill 50,688 14.65
(x)Bill Sutherland 50,134 14.49
(x)Norman Gardner 46,898 13.56
Frank Esposito 19,818 5.73
Tony D'Amato 16,629 4.81
Bernadette Michael 12,746 3.68
Sonnee Cohen 12,532 3.62
Agostino Settecase 5,799 1.68
Richard Kirkup 5,051 1.46
Total valid votes 345,916 100.00

Results taken from the Globe and Mail, 9 November 1982.
The final results confirmed the election of Shiner, Greene, Yuill and Sutherland.
Electors could vote for four candidates. The percentages are determined in relation to the total number of votes.

North York Board of Control, 1980 Toronto election (top four candidates elected) (1,257 of 1,379 polls reporting)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Esther Shiner 55,986 19.90
(x)Robert Yuill 44,544 15.83
Bill Sutherland 36,562 12.99
Norman Gardner 36,402 12.94
(x)Irving Paisley 35,590 12.65
Jan McGivern 25,934 9.22
Frank Esposito 17,643 6.27
Donna Wilson 17,104 6.08
Bernadette Michael 11,604 4.12
Total valid votes 281,369 100.00

Results taken from the Toronto Star, 11 November 1980.
The final results confirmed the election of Shiner, Yuill, Sutherland and Gardner.
Electors could vote for four candidates. The percentages are determined in relation to the total number of votes.

North York Board of Control, 1978 Toronto election (top four candidates elected) (1,239 of 1,346 polls reporting)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Barbara Greene 57,808 18.13
(x)Esther Shiner 55,429 17.39
(x)Robert Yuill 44,748 14.04
Irving Paisley 34,648 10.87
(x)Ron Summers 34,514 10.83
Alex McGivern 33,602 10.54
Harvey Haber 18,228 5.72
Paul Wizman 14,221 4.46
Doreen Leitch 9,791 3.07
Gino Vatri 9,729 3.05
Sheena Suttaby 6,049 1.90
Total valid votes 318,767 100.00

Results taken from the Toronto Star, 14 November 1978.
The final results confirmed the election of Greene, Shiner, Yuill and Paisley.
Electors could vote for four candidates. The percentages are determined in relation to the total number of votes.

North York Board of Control, 1976 Toronto election (top four candidates elected) (1,173 of 1,305 polls reporting)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Barbara Greene 62,918 22.60
Esther Shiner 48,441 17.40
Ron Summers 39,857 14.31
Robert Yuill 37,558 13.49
(x)Alex McGivern 36,525 13.12
Jack Bedder 24,706 8.87
Bernadette Michael 16,398 5.89
Angelo Natale 12,048 4.33
Total valid votes 278,451 100.00

Results taken from the Toronto Star, 6 December 1976.
The final results confirmed the election of Greene, Shiner, Summers and Yuill.
Electors could vote for four candidates. The percentages are determined in relation to the total number of votes.

North York City Council, Ward Four, 1974 Toronto election
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
(x)Esther Shiner 4,047 76.20
Malcolm O'Heir 544 10.24
Domenico Natale 407 7.67
Marvin Silverberg 313 5.89
Total valid votes 5,311 100.00

Results taken from the Toronto Star, 3 December 1974.
The final official results were not significantly different.

North York City Council, Ward Four, 1972 Toronto election (46 of 64 wards reporting)
Candidate Total votes  % of total votes
Esther Shiner 1,559 32.38
David Perry 1,732 35.97
Irving Goldberg 775 16.10
Frank Granieri 363 7.54
Samuel Wagman 194 4.03
Max Gellman 192 3.99
Total valid votes 4,815 100.00

Results taken from the Toronto Star, 5 December 1972.
These results obviously do not reflect the final totals. Shiner pulled ahead of Perry when the final eighteen polls were counted, and was listed in the next day's Star as winning by twelve votes, 2,326 to 2,314.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Marina Strauss, "Toronto fumex [sic] at idling motors, plans bylaw to turn them off", Globe and Mail, 22 March 1979, P5; "Two Metro councillors just love to hurl insults", Globe and Mail, 8 April 1985, M5. As a member of the transportation committee, Shiner criticized the Toronto Transit Commission's new streetcars in the early 1980s, arguing that people could become caught underneath the front. The TTC yielded to her demands, and introduced a protective barrier in 1984. The barrier was nicknamed as the "Shiner Skirt".
  2. ^ "Shiner gets O'Keefe board post", Globe and Mail, 11 April 1979, P5; Jim Byers, "Race is on for posts on Metro's boards", Toronto Star, 24 November 1986, A6.
  3. ^ Alden Baker, "Federation formed to handle boom is 25 years old today", Globe and Mail, 15 April 1978, P4.
  4. ^ "North York to honor hero in street-naming ceremony", Globe and Mail, 5 April 1982, P5.
  5. ^ John Sewell, "Progressive North York?", Globe and Mail, 16 April 1984, M1.
  6. ^ Dyanne River, "Controllers wary of affirmative action", Globe and Mail, 27 September 1984, M5; "Shiner assails housing task force", Globe and Mail, 17 January 1986, A15.
  7. ^ Dyanne Rivers, "Vacationing Greene to ponder challenging Lastman as mayor", Globe and Mail, 31 July 1985, P14.
  8. ^ "Regions link up in battle over trash", Toronto Star, 12 January 1988, A6.
  9. ^ "Stadium to be named for Shiner", Globe and Mail, 13 July 1988, A13.