Whom to vote for in Ontario’s municipal elections this Monday!

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Sabrina Almeida

Ready to vote on Monday? I hope so! It’s a civic responsibility we must take seriously despite any feeling that it may not make the change we want or need.

Statistics show that in the last municipal elections in 2014, the average voter turnout in Ontario was just around 43%. An early Nanos summer poll in which a third of Ontarians were blissfully unaware of the looming elections suggested this might not change much. However, the advance poll numbers were up across the GTA which is hopeful to say the least. Sadly, even many of those who know remain apathetic and consider it a complete waste of time.

In case you are out of touch with local politics… up for grabs are seats for your ward councillor, school trustee and the city mayor. All of whom make decisions at the local level which will directly affect our lives.

Having said that… if you live in the same ward as me in Mississauga, voting might be a tick-tac-toe exercise as most of our candidates haven’t made any attempts to connect with their voter base. I’ve heard it’s a similar situation across most of Peel region. Friends in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga are irritated by the complacency of the incumbents and lack of initiative on the part of the challengers. For example, how does a new prospect expect to get elected if voters don’t know their platform? Unless their vote base is communal!!! Which is not uncommon in cities like Mississauga and Brampton where visible minorities make up more than half the population.

Our mayor too hasn’t shown much interest in campaigning. Perhaps she is as confident of a victory as her predecessor. She’s counting on the fact that city residents will maintain status quo rather than hand over the reins to a newbie or worse still, a hate monger.

Just two of the seven candidates for separate school trustee came around in my ward. I happen to know one of them quite well. A third stood outside my church distributing his pamphlets. The fourth was in grade school with my son. Which explains the sign on my lawn!!! While I think he has a great future and wish him well, I am disappointed that he didn’t think to ring my doorbell rather than leave a sticky note thanking me. The personal touch would have made all the difference. So, guess who I’ll be voting for?

As for the ward councillor candidates, my information has been limited to the stray lawn signs in the area. While news and politics is my interest, the same cannot be said for others in my house or neighbourhood so they are not likely to research candidates. Chances are they will either stick with incumbents (because the name is familiar) or select an unknown on a whim because they want the present officials out. Current sentiments could also swing it in favour off or go against candidates from visible minority groups. All this makes voting a less meaningful exercise.

In the 14 years I have lived in Mississauga, there have been at least three elections. Only one sitting MP came around which I think shows utter disrespect for the voters.

A friend who is on the campaigning team of a new Durham region councillor candidate talked about the odds of unseating an incumbent who also felt no need to campaign in the ward. While he wholeheartedly supported this candidate, who was out campaigning every night, he was keenly aware that the odds were stacked against them. What with the incumbent and the runner up who lost by a slim margin in the previous municipal elections both in the contest.

Given these scenarios, we need to make our voices heard through our votes.

In the absence of any contact with the prospects, I would strongly encourage every voter to take the time to research their candidates. Don’t take the easy way out by sticking with the old or choosing the new without knowing what they stand for. Every city has a website with list of candidates (e.g. https://www.mississaugavotes.ca/infoforvoters) and their websites to familiarize yourself with their platform.

We owe it to ourselves to do it the right way. After all, we will be dealing with the consequences for the next four years! -CINEWS

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