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Amarjeet Kaur Chhabra wins City Idol, will seek council seat in Scarborough

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    by Elaine Smith (about) (email)

    The slate of candidates for this fall’s Toronto municipal election will have a U of T flavour, thanks to the recent City Idol competition.

    U of T students Amarjeet Chhabra and Bahar Aminvaziri and alumnus Arthur Roszak will all be running for office with help from the non-profit group Who Runs This Town? This is the prize for victory in the civics competition based loosely on the popular Canadian Idol television series.

    City Idol is the brainchild Dave Meslin of Who Runs This Town? It was billed as a competition of ideas for a better city and served as a way of engaging more people in the political process. Competitors put their ideas for improving Toronto to the test of an audience vote and the least impressive were “voted off the island.” Chhabra, Aminvaziri and Roszak were the last candidates standing in their regional competitions. These three victors, along with fellow regional winner Desmond Cole, will now receive support in running a political campaign for a seat on Toronto city council. They have already filed nomination papers -- Chhabra for a seat in Scarborough, Aminvaziri for North York and Roszak for Etobicoke York.
    Amarjeet Chhabra
    Amarjeet Chhabra. Image: Melissa Goldstein

    Chhabra, a political science and life science student at U of T at Scarborough, is a member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet executive. She has been an active participant in volunteer activities since coming to Canada from India as a high school student. When contest organizer Meslin pitched the city idol idea at a youth cabinet meeting, she jumped at the chance to participate.

    “I always wanted to run for political office, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon,” said Chhabra, 24. “Obviously, I want to win, but if I don’t, I’ll run again in four years. My main goal for this election is to at least raise the awareness among youth about getting involved. It’s your city, you have to step up.”

    Follow the progress of as she navigate her way through a political campaign. Visit for more information.

    by Kevin Wong

    Amarjeet Chhabra reacts on Saturday after becoming Scarborough's City Idol
    Media Credit: Kevin Wong
    Amarjeet Chhabra reacts on Saturday after becoming Scarborough's City Idol

    From a shortlist of three finalists, Amarjeet Chhabra, an undergraduate at UTSC, emerged as the Scarborough region winner of City Idol last Saturday.

    "I'm someone who's passionate about representing the needs of the people who give me the chance, because I believe?I work for each of them," Chhabra told the audience in a packed committee room at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

    "I do not believe in lip service, because I'm not a politician-at least not as of yet," Chhabra said with a smile.

    The competition is at the end of its first phase, in which four finalists from Etobicoke, North York, Toronto-East York, and Scarborough respectively, are selected by attendees. Each winner will receive campaign assistance for the upcoming municipal elections in November. Last week, Engineering grad student Bahar Aminvaziri won the City Idol title in the North York region.

    Chhabra, who is studying life sciences and political science, will be running in Ward 44, where she lives and attends school.

    An immigrant who arrived to Canada in 1999, Chhabra has been involved with student politics at UTSC, the Toronto Youth Cabinet, and the Youth Committee for the Canadian National Exhibition Association.

    "Ever heard people say 'Youth are the future of the country'? ?Well, the future of the country wants to be involved, so here I am," states Chhabra in her online profile.

    Issues ranging from homelessness to energy concerns were addressed, by the Scarborough finalists, in short presentations and speeches to an audience of at about fifty.

    In the audience were journalists from local Toronto media as well Toronto City Councilor David Soknacki-the first Councilor to attend one of the finals, organizers said.
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