All politics is . . .

Municipal elections are coming up in Ontario. These are not well attended by the voting public. According to the stats I found online, in my current hometown’s last municipal election in 2018 the voter turnout was around 33-36%, which I think is about average for the province.

Commentators in the U.S. have been remarking on how, in recent years, the old adage that “all politics is local” has been turned on its head, and that all politics is now national. I find something similar happening in Canada, where people tend to get excited about the big issues and personalities that play out in parliament, while not caring much about how their cities are run. The fact that Toronto tends to get a higher voter turnout than the rest of the province is part of the same dynamic. Add to this the disappearance of local media (my hometown newspaper shut down a few years ago after a run of over a century) and municipal politics outside of Toronto has become a kind of vacuum. Who’s covering City Hall? In many municipalities, no one.

I think this is dangerous, as a lot of the things that will affect people the most directly are precisely the local issues that people don’t seem interested in. Where I live, I suspect the current mayor will be re-elected. Before I sat down to write this post, I didn’t know the name of anyone running against the incumbent. I certainly haven’t seen signs for anyone else (though one mayoral candidate has made the principled decision not to have any, and even argues that the “environmentally destructive eye-sores” should be banned).

That said, when I checked I was surprised to find that there are actually six people running for mayor! And a couple of them had really slick web-pages, so maybe that counts for something.

I confess I don’t know what the driving issues are. Affordable housing seems to be the hottest button, but that’s a provincial and national issue as well that’s getting a lot of attention. Otherwise, the candidates seem to want to boil everything down to a few key words. One mayoral candidate’s web-page lists “Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and Inclusion.” Sounds good. Among the signs for candidates running for Council I saw one in my neighbourhood that said “Innovation and Diversity.” Another said “People Planet Prosperity.” This may mean something more than “Elect Jane Doe,” but I’m not sure. In any event, I can’t say they’re words that excite me, or that make me want to get out and vote.


7 thoughts on “All politics is . . .

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