It is not generally known that the father of Sylvia Watson, the Liberal Provincial Candidate in Parkdale-High Park, was Estonian. Since many Estonians live in the High Park area, it may be of interest that her father’s name was Arvo Lehari. He was an officer in the Estonian Cavalry before World War II. During the war he was forced to flee the advancing Soviet forces, ending up in Austria in a Displaced Person’s Camp in 1946. There he met and married Sylvia Watson’s German mother, who had fled from war-torn Bonn. Sylvia was born in Austria. The family emigrated to Canada when she was five years old.
As a child she led the life of a typical immigrant. The family was poor, but Sylvia has often said, that while growing up in poverty, she dreamt of a better life. The importance of education was always stressed in the family. Sylvia supported herself through university and law school, as did many Estonian immigrants at the time. In 1981 she was called to the bar. At first she worked in private practice, and from 1991 to 2002 as Solicitor for the City of Toronto Legal Department, where she eventually worked herself up to the head of the department of more than 50 lawyers prior to the amalgamation.
From 2003 to 2006 Sylvia was City Councillor, representing the Parkdale-High Park area. From then on she decided to dedicate her career to public service working to improve the opportunities available to others to help them realize their dreams. She is known as an intelligent, hard worker, able to solve seemingly impossible problems in ways that are new and fresh. She has created affordable housing for people in need in her riding, made streets safer by shutting down bars, where criminal activity threatened community safety, helped to clean up park and beach areas, and ensured the preservation of historic buildings. She has served, among other positions, as Vice Chair of the City’s Budget advisory Committee, Chair of the Administration Committee and on numerous other City committees and agencies. She has also helped many of her constituents on an individual basis, and always been directly available to her voters. There is no doubt that Sylvia Watson is the candidate with strongest record in the High Park area and we can be proud of her Estonian heritage.
Sylvia chose to serve in Ontario’s Liberal Party because she likes its emphasis on public education, its decision to give more money to health care, hire more nurses and doctors and eventually eliminate the waiting lists, that were created during the period of NDP and Conservative mismanagement at Queen’s Park. Liberals have also introduced a gas tax to improve local transit, contracted over 100MW of solar power and protected a 1.8 million acre greenbelt around GTA. Sylvia believes that the Liberals are moving in the right direction in making Ontario a leader in creating a prosperous economy and healthier, cleaner environment, but admits it has been impossible to fix 13 years of neglect in just 4 years.
Liberal candidate for Parkdale - High Park Sylvia Watson’s father was Estonian (5)