Khalil Ramal takes aim at Josh Morgan endorsements, vows ‘I am not quitting’ race

FILE - Khalil Ramal, member of provincial parliment for London Fanshawe. The Canadian Press/Mark Spowart

A London, Ont., mayoral candidate is vowing to plow ahead in the municipal race despite several high-profile endorsements received by one of his election opponents over the weekend.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday morning at London Music Hall, mayoral candidate Khalil Ramal told reporters that he wouldn’t quit and would continue to run, despite being advised by “some influential people” that Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan was “now the mayor in all but name.”

“I’m here to say that you, all of you, get to decide who the next mayor of London will be — not the people with money or power, and not special interest groups that think they can decide who’s going to be the next mayor for the city of London,” he said.

Ramal didn’t mention Morgan by name during his speech, which lasted roughly three minutes, however, he noted that “this candidate” had received endorsements from three local MPs and the local labour council.

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“I have … been told by some influential people that this candidate is now the mayor in all but name. Been told that the establishment and the power-brokers of the city of London have decided that this person will be the next mayor. I have to tell you that receiving this news was troubling,” Ramal said.

“I was troubled that we now have party politicians willing to bring … partisan politics into our municipal election … but I was most troubled that people who have influence, money and power have decided who would be the next mayor without asking (the) people of London.”

Morgan revealed on Sunday that he had been endorsed by Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos, NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen and Conservative MP Karen Vecchio. A day earlier, the London and District Labour Council said it would endorse the two-term Ward 7 councillor for mayor.

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Ramal stated that he was troubled that the labour council would endorse Morgan, citing his votes against a minimum wage increase for municipal workers and the western leg of the city’s BRT system. Ramal has pledged to provide London with a full BRT system if elected.

A “major announcement” is planned for later this week, Ramal said.

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Mayoral candidate Sean O’Connell also took aim at Morgan’s endorsements on Tuesday, alleging in a tweet that Fragiskatos, Mathyssen and Vecchio had violated the conflict of interest code for House of Commons members.

Fragiskatos replied that he had “proactively reached out to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s office” before making any endorsements, and had followed the office’s direction “to the letter.”

Speaking with Global News late Tuesday afternoon, Fragiskatos said he disagreed with Ramal’s perspective that he, Mathyssen, and Vecchio were being partisan in their individual support for Morgan.

“We come from different party backgrounds, clearly. I think it’s the definition of non-partisan to see three individuals from three very different perspectives coming together and putting forward a message as we did over the weekend. But he’s entitled to his opinion, certainly,” he said.

He also stressed that his endorsement of Morgan was made as an individual London resident, and not as an MP.

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Morgan brushed off the comments, telling Global News that endorsements are common in political campaigns and that Ramal himself would have received endorsements while a Liberal MPP for London-Fanshawe.

“It’s not really ‘partisan politics’ coming into the municipal election. Anybody who wants to be the next mayor of the city of London will have to work with Peter Fragiskatos, Lindsay Mathyssen, Karen Vecchio and Arielle Kayabaga to work for the city of London,” said Morgan, who has also received the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Ed Holder.

“It’s not about who endorses you. We have 500 lawn signs up across the city and it’s growing each and every day, and those are from grassroots door-knocking, engaging on issues across the city, and that’s how the election is won.”

Morgan also rejected Ramal’s assertion he “voted against more affordable housing,” while on council, calling it “not true,” adding that his platform calls for growing the number of affordable units in the city.

“Representing the city for eight years, you’re going to have votes where people agree with you and … votes where people don’t agree with you,” Morgan said in reference to past council decisions in general.

“You can look back at those years later and say, ‘You should have voted a different way,’ or ‘I disagree,’ or you can look at the way that you’ve approached governance, the ethics that you bring to the job, the work ethic and the commitment, and talk about the platform and the city moving forward.”


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