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Communist for Councillor

by Judi McLeod

June 23, 2003

There’s nothing wrong with a "card-carrying Commie" joining city council, according to Toronto Star reporter Bruce DeMara.

"Tongues have been wagging at city hall about the public trustee’s dark past as a card-carrying Commie (not that there’s anything wrong with that) since Paula Fletcher signed on to run in Ward 30, formerly held by ex-councillor and federal NDP leader Jack Layton," DeMara wrote in his Monday column, The Skinny at City Hall.

DeMara labeled the tongue wagging "a smear campaign," while admitting, "there’s some smoke to go with this fire."

Elected leader of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) in Manitoba, in April 1981, Fletcher served in the post for about five years.

Somehow the Toronto District School Board trustee--now moving on up to run for a council seat--didn’t consider it important to tell Ward 30 voters about her long-time commitment to the CPC.

According to The Skinny, a bio sent out by email inviting people to attend her Summer Solstice campaign kick-off "leaves a 37-year gap between her birth 51 years ago in Sault Ste. Marie, and her arrival in Toronto 14 years back."

Nor did Fletcher think it important to public school supporters when she piggybacked to public office as a trustee on the coattails of Jack Layton in 2000 municipal elections.

It all went off without a glitch with voters duped. Layton’s Back Jack election signs and brochures heralded the Toronto Star’s backing as "top councillor in Toronto!" and merely included "Paula Fletcher for Toronto School Board" on the bottom.

DeMara obviously buys into the theory that Fletcher has "very possibly mellowed with age (and with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square massacre, etc.), but makes no apologies for her far-left political past."

It’s a past that never appears to have come to an end.

Why did DeMara stop with the end of Fletcher’s chapter as CPC leader?

On her return to Toronto from out west, Fletcher became an organizer for the National Action Committee on the Status of Women; served on the Central Executive Committee of the CPC, and was a representative of the CPC on the 14-member Coordinating Committee of the Toronto Disarmament Network.

On the municipal front, Fletcher served as executive assistant to the late city Councillor Dan Leckie until he decided not to run in 1997. She then worked for Layton before getting elected to the local school board in 2000.

Judging from her lack of popularity out west, it took a Jack Layton to get Fletcher elected to public office. While Fletcher was unsuccessful in her bid to win a seat on the Winnipeg School Board in 1980, and was snubbed by voters when she ran under the CPC flag federally in Winnipeg North Centre, she was handily elected to the Toronto School Board on Layton’s coattails.

Fletcher, who went on to become a leader of the ring of trustees who refused to balance the board’s books, is married to John Cartwright, Business Agent of the Carpenter’s Union--who also has a lengthy history with the CPC.

If "there’s nothing wrong" with being a card-carrying Communist at city hall, it doesn’t seem to matter much at the Toronto School Board, where Fletcher is only one of three card-carrying communists.

If "tongues (are) wagging at city hall" about Fletcher’s love affair with Communism, blame it on Toronto Free Press/ only media outlet to lament her election in a cover story published in January 2001.

That election of Paula Fletcher, Communist, went down without a peep from the mainline media, including the Star’s Bruce DeMara. It only seemed to be important information when DeMara searched the TFP/CFP website looking for an item to fill an upcoming Skinny at City Hall.

Meanwhile, what about Ward 30 municipal election voters? Well, as far as councillor candidate Paula Fletcher is concerned, it doesn’t seem to be any of their business.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]om

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