Categorized | Feature, Interviews

Representing entrepreneurs at national and international levels

Posted on 30 October 2014 by admin

By Samuel Getachew
ToronTO 
Raj Rama is a respected and politically engaged citizen. Born in Toronto to Indian parents, Rama is determined to continue his tradition of being engaged. I had a chance to interview him as he reflected on life, politics and business.
Raj –Tell me about yourself?
I was born in 1963 here in Toronto at the Women’s College Hospital in Downtown Toronto. I have lived and worked in Toronto my whole life. My parents are of Indian Origin.
Your biography states you are an “Award Winning Serial Entrepreneur” – Tell me about that?
I have worked with both the Public and Private sector as an Award winning Entrepreneur since 1990. This was an Ontario Minister of Economic Development Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship. This Award was presented at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and the Awards other two sponsors were Royal Bank and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
There were only 25 Recipients’ from all over Ontario, including myself. This award opened many doors for me and my company in terms of media coverage, invitations to events and trips and more business that allowed me to buy a 1870’s Victorian renovated row house in 1991 near Yonge and Bloor which I sold in 2008 for $680,000.
You also state how you have travelled many parts of the world representing Ontario. Share with me the highlights.
I participated on several Ontario and/ or Federal led Trade Missions where I was invited by Ontario Exports or DFAIT to South America, Mexico, USA, Europe, India and Japan. I was also the only Canadian Businessman invited to join President Bill Clinton on his first Trip to India. I met many interesting people from the Canadian delegation and from the Countries/ Cities we visited.
It was a great opportunity that I probably would not have gotten to go if had not been for that Ministers Award from then Minister Monte Kwinter of MEDT. The Premier I refer to was Mike Harris and the Prime Minister I refer to was Jean Chretien.
You are a familiar face in the community involved as an advocate and volunteer of worthy causes. Share with me some of the initiatives you are involved in?
Since the 1980’s I have had the privilege to share my photography about Toronto, by being published in well know publications such as the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, Maclean’s Magazine, NY Times, etc. The photos were usually about issues that mattered to readers, such as drug crime, youth prostitution, Bryan Adams playing ‘Summer of 69’ at the CNE, etc.
By highlighting issues even back then, I hope I was able to make a positive difference in the lives of a few people and hopefully more in the future. As you know the Cultural Industry is very vibrant and employees many people in Toronto
In terms of Community building I co-founded a non-profit called Canadians Against Substance Abuse in 2007 after being urged to start it by Christine Elliott, who herself is a tireless advocate for the disabled and less fortunate in our society as an Ont. MPP and Deputy Leader of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. We had some ‘big wins’ early on, so now I am looking for new ways to mitigate the harms of substance abuse in Toronto on a larger scale with Toronto Public Health, TCHC. When I was a candidate, my hope was should I win, I wanted to be appointed to the board of Public Health and TCHC so I may continue the good fight and help many people. One thing I learned at Ontario Tourism is that you can do a considerable amount more from within Government versus from outside.
You were a recent candidate for City Council. What were some of the ideas you wanted to advocate for.
There were many things I want to address if I was elected. Creating Jobs with our Agencies and partners is a priority. Inviting new businesses to Ward 28, as we have the financial hub of Canada here called the TSX. Improving gridlock (e.g.in the financial district with a pilot project introducing a similar Toll system as the centre of London has)
Improving Public Safety by bringing Shot Spotter (who I have been working with for over a year: www.shotspotter.com) to Toronto for the 2015 Pan Am Games and other areas that need that level of surveillance technology. For example, there has been another murder in Regent Park (Ward28) recently, i.e. ‘Ali was shot to death on Sydenham Rd. near Shuter St. and Trefann St. on Monday afternoon.’ two weeks ago. We need to ramp up Public Safety with the Toronto Police Service and increase Social Service/ Youth mentorship programs to Ward 28 residents who need it.
This will be with the help of our new Mayor and new City Council. One way to fund this is that we must charge at least the same development fees as our neighbours in Brampton, Mississauga, etc. With the additional funds, we can build/ rebuild our communities’ infrastructure and pay for better Public Safety in Toronto.
Improving/renewing infrastructure For example, City of Toronto Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat said recently, ‘she admits the city is pockmarked with areas starving for adequate, up-to-date infrastructure – be it water capacity, parks or transit, replace or improve aging infrastructure right away in Ward 28 so we may protect Businesses and keep Jobs and Residents safe.
My aim was to serve the needs of Residents, Business owners and Tourists!
Who were you supporting for mayor and why?
John Tory as he is the most qualified person in this race to bring people on City Council together. The City has lost its’ way and become distracted with scandal after scandal. We need to move forward together as Barack Obama has said many times.

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