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Get Excited! Toronto Votes 2010

February 8, 2010

The Toronto Mayoral Election is still eight months away and already I find myself drawn to every related article, story and tweet like a moth to a flame.  Without a doubt, there has never before been an election, which I have been eligible to vote in, that I have anticipated more greatly.

It is a sad fact that such a large percentage of individuals within my circle still never feel the need to vote.  Normally as an election cycle approaches and passes, I make the valiant effort towards convincing those around me who somehow believe that they will be blissfully unaffected by an election’s results that they are, in fact, simply deluded.

Generally, that type of apathy towards the Canadian political system is hard enough to swallow for someone brought up in a family which, come election day, shares an early dinner so that we may walk to the polling station together.  It is a little bit harder to choke down after seeing those same self-disenfranchised individuals around me being stricken with political fervour a year ago during the last American election.  Not that I have a problem with closely following the political stories unfolding in neighbouring countries, quite the contrary.  I simply could no longer handle sitting in my political science classrooms during lectures which were supposed to be about Canadian federalism and instead being subjected to the dreamy cooing over a future foreign president by classmates who would normally go entire semesters without uttering an opinion on anything actually pertaining to a course at hand… I digress (in almost hypocritical fashion…)

For once, I hope things will be different.  I am now living in a city that, in many respects, seems to be falling behind the pack.  Before I had really traveled and lived abroad, I would not hesitate to drop the gauntlets whenever someone spoke ill of the place of my birth.  In my mind, it was simply the best place to live, period.  To me, that statement still rings true, sadly not as resoundly.  There is quite a bit of building and polishing that needs to be done to this town and this election seems like it is going to be the catalyst for that change to happen.  No matter your stance, I urge all of you to make an informed opinion and vote during this coming election cycle before that period becomes a question mark.

For those not convinced, there is a litany of municipal issues that have already begun to make their marks on the platforms of Toronto’s Mayoral candidates.  If you cannot find one issue that affects you, I suggest you return your head to its hole in the sand.

A few issues that are already an issue:

  • Bikes vs. Cars – Last August’s tragedy involving Darcy Sheppard and Michael Bryant proves that this hot topic resonates loudly throughout the city.  One thing is for sure and that is that Toronto needs to better separate cyclists and drivers.
  • Troubled City Finances – As hard as it is to believe for some, Canada’s largest city is in a dire financial situation.  A budget gap of around $500 million needs to somehow be plugged.  Should public services be streamlined or should crown corporations be auctioned off?
  • Vehicle Registration Fees – To have a car in the city, you have to pay a tax.  Is this government revenue helping to support infrastructure or is it an unfair levy on automobile owners?
  • The 5¢ Plastic Bag Fee – is this fee enough to adequately curb the use of disposable shopping bags?  Does it help raise environmental awareness?  Or is the government passing off the burden to consumers?
  • Road Tolls – Transportation is a huge issue in this city and, by many accounts, it is underfunded.
  • Giving the Vote to Residents, Not Just Citizens
  • How to Distribute Money From Development Charges
  • Oh yeah, and something about the TTC…

This list is surely not exhaustive.  Toronto is an incredibly complex city.  Any individual willing to step up and take the reigns must be in a position to address a plethora of diverse issues.  Shortly I will be posting several in-depth looks into the issues facing the megacity and profiling the candidates looking to be named Toronto’s Mayor.

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