A new City Council faces new hurdles

The City election is over, and it was a wild, unprecedented ride. Changing the number of Councillors and changing the boundaries for each of the Wards had a significant toll on voter turnout. Changing the rules for the election while the election was already started was unfair and confusing to the public. Many people who voted in the previous election did not vote in this election as a result.

Voter turnout was lower City wide. Here, the Downsview area had one of the sharpest declines in turnout – over 28,000 people voted in 2014 however, in 2018, only 22,500 voted. This is a 20% drop.

Doug Ford forced the changes to the election because he reasoned it would save money, but that seems to be mostly words to rationalize his dislike for the City of Toronto Council as a body. He did not make the same
demands of other Ontarian cities and was in a rush to push this through, even creating a constitutional crisis in the process. Reasons as to why Ford did this never add up- many speculate that it is because he has a personal vendetta against Toronto.  

It was unfair to Torontonians who were given such little time to assess and adjust to the new changes. One fifth of voters in Downsview reacted by staying away from the polls and this is bad for our community. We may not like one politician or another, we may not like a party or we may not like the whole of them in power, but our democratic system is based on a number of principles that we need to protect. Fairness and predictability are pillars of a democratic society.

I think most would agree that we ought not to mess around with the rules during an election again. At the basis of any democratic election is a sense that people need to be given equal and fair opportunities. Elections are races and imagine training for months for a 100 metres dash race only to be told once the race starts that you have to run a kilometre instead? This was unprecedented. Let’s not do it again.

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