Federal election 2019: What's at stake for Toronto?


A note about transit: Yesterday, Mayor Tory announced he has negotiated a deal with the provincial government to endorse the Ontario Line subway plan in exchange for avoiding the TTC upload. Understandably, this has left many of you wondering what this means for Don Valley North. The deal is not set in stone — it still needs approval by City Council. Once I've processed the hundreds of pages of reports on this news, I will give you a comprehensive rundown in next week's e-blast.


BY SHELLEY CARROLL

On Tuesday night I visited a local group of Girl Guides to talk about elections and women in politics. They prepared a long list of questions in advance. And for young women ranging from only nine to 12 years of age, they sure had a lot of serious questions on their minds.

 
Duncan Creek Park. Photo credit: Sean Liu
 

Here's a sample: 

  • Is it hard to balance the job of a politician and a mother?

  • Can we get more subway lines in Toronto?

  • Why are women paid less for the same job as men? Are you paid less?

  • Can we have free ice cream days in the summer?

  • Why don't we have a lot of homeless shelters in Toronto?

  • Can you create a sidewalk just for people riding their bikes?

  • Why did you sell the 407?

  • Do you ever get nervous talking in front of people?

  • There's an animal living on my school's roof. What can you do to get it off?

  • I'm worried about how long it takes to wait at the hospital when I am sick, can we get another hospital?

Of course, not all these questions are municipal in nature. Still, they're questions the Guides felt their City Councillor should be able to answer — and we should. Along with school board trustees, councillors are the most on-the-ground, local level of government we have.

Priorities

Those young girls are not unlike their parents and grandparents — they know what has the greatest impact on their families and they want to know how it will be addressed. After all, they are the "one taxpayer."

 
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) polled residents in 2500 cities to find out what was on their minds at the start of the federal election.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) polled residents in 2500 cities to find out what was on their minds at the start of the federal election.

 

If you study the graph above, you can see some concerns are strictly in my wheelhouse — snow removal, for instance. But affordable housing is the number one concern for Canadians and the young Guide who asked me why we don’t have enough shelters for the homeless.

That is why, when there is a federal election, you see the Mayor inviting each of the party leaders to join him for a chat at City Hall.

The Mayor and your local councillor have a duty to speak with government and party leaders to make the city's most urgent needs clear, particularly in regards to infrastructure.

 
 

I found myself having to explain the word "infrastructure" to the Girl Guides — accommodating our growing number of residents requires building more healthcare, more mass transportation and so on into our communities. These are the things the city delivers together with other levels of government.

Close attention

“On Monday," I told the Guides, “Your moms and dads will pick someone new to represent our neighbourhood in the House of Commons. And I will have to work with whomever they choose in order to solve problems in Don Valley North — whether that means building more homes, subways or hospitals. That’s why Mayor Tory, myself and all the other councillors pay close attention to what happens in other elections.”

 
This FCM poll shows a large majority of residents believe municipal governments best know their needs.

This FCM poll shows a large majority of residents believe municipal governments best know their needs.

 

I'm counting on you to pay attention, too. While there was great turnout in advance polls across Canada this time, many voters are still undecided. If that's you, I encourage you to use these last few days to take a good look at every party's election platform and head to the polls on Monday.

Visit elections.ca for information on where and when to vote as well as what to bring with you.


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