|Toronto City Councillor for (Ward 30) Toronto-Danforth|
December 1, 2003
|Preceded by||Jack Layton|
|Toronto Public School Trustee for (Ward 15) Broadview-Greenwood|
December 1, 2000 – December 1, 2003
|Preceded by||Ward Created|
|Succeeded by||Rick Telfer|
|Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee|
December 1, 2006 – December 1, 2010
|Preceded by||Committee Created|
|Succeeded by||Norm Kelly|
|Leader of the Communist Party of Manitoba|
|Preceded by||William Cecil Ross|
|Succeeded by||Lorne Robson|
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
|Occupation||Trade Union Organizer|
Fletcher was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She worked as an educator in third world development, and became a community activist in Winnipeg. She was a plant organizer in a Toronto garment mill in the early 1970s. After working at the mill, she worked at the Downsview DeHavilland Plant. When she worked there she went by the nickname ‘Rosie the Riveter’. At the plant she was involved in the women's committee of Local 112. Today CAW 112 represents the aerospace workers at the Bombardier/DeHavilland plant. One of her many activities included a stint as a singer with a group called the Rank and File in the early 1980s.
As of 2010 she lives in Toronto with her husband John Cartwright and their two children. Her husband is the president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.
Manitoba Communist Party Leader
In 1980, she ran for the Winnipeg School Board for Ward 2, in the city's north end. In 1981, she was elected leader of the Communist Party of Canada in Manitoba. She stayed on as leader for five years. She ran twice in the 1981 and 1986 provincial elections in the Winnipeg riding of Burrows. She garnered 144 and 131 votes respectively, less than 2% of the popular vote. In 1986 she left the party and relocated to Toronto. In the 1990s Fletcher worked at Toronto City Hall as executive assistant to councillor Dan Leckie.
In 2000, she was elected as a trustee for Ward 15 in the Toronto District School Board. During her time on the board, she was active in fighting the cutbacks of the Mike Harris and Ernie Eves Progressive Conservative governments and was able to prevent two school closures in her area. One of them was Bruce Junior Public School, which Fletcher helped save by housing a new facility there for childhood learning and development centre for families.
In 2002, the provincial government appointed Paul Christie as supervisor for the school board since the trustees had refused to submit a balanced budget. During this period, Christie had the power to overrule any decisions made by the trustees. Although trustees continued to meet in what was at most an advisory role, frustrations with their situation often led to confrontation. During a meeting in January 2003, Fletcher and school board director David Reid exchanged words in a heated debate. Reid accused Fletcher of misleading the meeting over a series of questions she said had not been addressed by staff.
When Jack Layton resigned as councillor to run for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), Fletcher received the endorsement of the NDP to run to replace him in the ward. In the race she was endorsed by Layton, who by the time of the election was the leader of the federal NDP, and the local NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Marilyn Churley.
In the 2003 election, eight candidates competed in Ward 30. Prominent candidates included Chris Phibbs, who was executive assistant to Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae for 11 years, and Maureen Gilroy, a centrist candidate who had the backing of Liberal MP Dennis Mills.
Fletcher won with 39.5% of the vote (6,460 votes) beating Phibbs who had 26.1% of the vote, Gilroy who received 19.3% of the vote, and McCormick who received 5.1%. The total number of votes cast was 16,373 votes.
Following her election, Fletcher became part of the governing coalition led by newly elected Mayor David Miller.
As a councillor, Fletcher rallied Toronto City Council to oppose the Portlands Energy Centre, a 550 megawatt power plant in the Port Lands district beside the Hearn Generating Station. The grassroots campaign was unable to stop construction of the plant which was completed in 2007.
Other significant developments in Ward 30 supported by Fletcher include Filmport (now known as Pinewood Toronto Studios), Canada's largest purpose-built sound stage and film production space, and the Zhong Hua Men Archway, the only traditional Chinese archway to be built in Toronto.
In the 2006 election Fletcher ran in a field of six candidates. The overall turnout in Ward 30 dropped to 13,181 votes. Fletcher won with 60.3% of the vote. With the drop in voter turnout, however, her vote total increased by 1,476 votes over the 2003 results to 7,936 votes. Suzanne McCormick, who had run against her in 2003, was the second place candidate and received 26.3% (3,470 votes).
During the term, She served as the Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee where she spearheaded the City of Toronto's Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan and Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, and the People, Dogs and Parks – Off-Leash Areas and Commercial Dog Walker Permit Policy. As chair, she was also a member of the mayor's Executive Committee. She also served on the boards of Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, and she chaired the Aboriginal Committee and the Animal Services sub-committee.
Calling herself "an unapologetic, unadulterated left-winger", Fletcher is regarded as an advocate for affordable housing, environmentally sustainable municipal policy, social justice, and good land use planning.
In 2008, Fletcher requested Leslieville’s Duke of York Tavern to paint over a mural of a rifle-wielding John Wayne at the corner of Queen Street East and Leslie Street. Fletcher said that the mural was inappropriate given that a young woman was killed by a stray bullet in front of the tavern in October, 2008. Fletcher was surprised that some patrons were upset. "I’m a little shocked that they are [upset]. It just shows their lack of sensitivity," she said.
Leslieville Smart Centres development
In 2009, Fletcher campaigned against an application by Smart Centres, to build a 65,000 m2 (700,000 sq ft) retail facility in the City's 'Studio District'. The development was proposed for lands occupied by Toronto Film Studios which would have required a change in the zoning from industrial to retail. The proposal was denied on the grounds that the development would have destabilized the surrounding employment district. Smart Centres appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. In March 2009 the OMB sided with city council. However, OMB vice-chair James McKenzie was critical of measures taken to block the proposal. In his decision he wrote, "the city (planning) instruments represent a panicked response to an unwanted development scheme and are neither measured nor rational response. They are not the product of a bona fide planning initiative - they are not appropriate, practical, workable or achievable and they do not represent good land use planning."
On 2 March 2010, Fletcher "interrogated" a man who was identified as John Smith during deputations on the City of Toronto's budget. Fletcher wanted to know if he expected her to cut the arts budget, school breakfast programs, or subsidized daycare spots.
Smith replied, "Councillor, you're asking me to do your job. Are you seeking re-election in [October]? You're being paid to make tough decisions." After a further exchange he added, "You should be fired." The Toronto Star then reported that Fletcher yelled back: "Oh, come and run against me. Come on down, baby!"
Fletcher subsequently apologized to Toronto City Council for her comments by letter writing: "if my tone was argumentative or if they believe I do not value their participation in the budget process." The outburst was covered by major media in Toronto including an editorial in the Toronto Sun and an article about the outburst from the point of view of her fellow city councillors.
University Avenue bike lanes
In May 2010 Fletcher voted against a proposal to install bike lanes on University Avenue in downtown Toronto. The proposal failed on a 15-13 vote. She said she had intended to vote in favour of the proposal and blamed fatigue and city hall technology for her mis-vote. Consequently, her vote had cycling advocates mourning the loss of "the ultimate in bike lanes."
In the October 25, 2010 municipal election, Fletcher narrowly beat former Citytv reporter Liz West by less than two percent of the votes cast. According to The Globe and Mail, this was a "hot" ward race. The Globe reported that there was a strong desire for change in the ward that lead to the close showing by West who entered the race only in mid-August. Third-place candidate Andrew James dropped out of the race and endorsed West prior to the election day.
The Toronto and York Region Labour Council made several endorsements of councillors and trustee candidates including Fletcher.
|2010 Toronto election, Ward 30|
- http://www.labourcouncil.ca/LabourActionSpring06.pdf page 3
- Catherine Porter. Not the straight and narrow; Rookie on council has worn many hats Layton's successor shares his politics. Toronto Star. November 21, 2003. Pg. B02
- Judi McLeod. Communist for Councillor. Canada Free Press. June 23, 2003. 
- http://www.labourcouncil.ca/LabourActionSpring06.pdf page 3
- Tess Kalinowski. Toronto Star. Scathing letter critiques board ; Schools director complains of trustee outbursts Union deputations to the board also draw criticism. February 6, 2003. Pg. B7.
- Rob Roberts. Under pressure, Leslieville bar removes mural of rifle-wielding John Wayne. National Post. November 10, 2008.
- David Nickle. Community jubilant OMB turns down SmartCentres' plans. Inside Toronto. March 5, 2009.
- Globe and Mail, October 25, 2010 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/city-votes/wards/a-look-at-the-elections-hottest-races/article1772613/
- City of Toronto elections page