As we enter the final stretch of the Toronto municipal election, two things have become abundantly clear.
First, we need a new and better way of electing our mayor and city councillors. A voting system that forces many people to vote strategically rather than sincerely, and that creates a council not reflecting our city's diversity, has no place in a 21st-century democracy. Second, we need a process to identify the best system or systems for Toronto -- a course being promoted by the Toronto chapter of Fair Vote Canada.
Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism -- those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights -- will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.
- Andrés Duany, 'Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream'
Last May, I resolved to start a movement to encourage Torontonians to eat their ballots on October 25. I'm not normally one to promote and encourage movements of entrenched disenfranchisement but this mayoral election had so disappointed me, eating my ballot seemed to be a better option than any other, i.e. voting for a candidate.
As I talked to others who are normally just as engaged in local politics as I am, it was clear that disenfranchisement was widespread.
I wondered why, until I went to an all-candidates debate hosted by Brian Mulroney's son Ben.
What are the next steps in facilitating civic participation of newcomers? What are the barriers and how do we address them?
Open Dialogue Event - Thursday, January 16, 2014
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
(Registration starts at 9:00 a.m.)
Location: The 519 Church Street Community Centre, 2nd Floor Auditorium
Supporting Civic Engagement and Community Capacity is one of the four pillars of the Toronto Newcomer Strategy, endorsed by Toronto City Council in 2013. The City Council also made a request to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to “amend the necessary legislation to allow permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections.”
Putting your ideas & principles into action. A workshop on how to start your own activist municipal campaign in Ontario
UPDATE: This workshop will now also feature independent municipal activist Desmond Cole! Desmond Cole was a 2006 City Council candidate and project coordinator for City Vote, a campaign to extend voting rights to Ontario's permanent residents.
He will sharing his insights and experiences, right at the beginning of the workshop, about running and municipal activism.
Admittedly, it's a provocative proposition: isn't the right to vote one of the keystone and defining elements of citizenship? Certainly, the act of casting a vote for an elected official or on a topic put to the public is one of the most tangible displays of citizenship, but of course citizenship means much more than just that. For example, one additional privilege that citizens have over permanent residents or visitors is the right to entry and habitation in Canada. Permanent residents and visitors get to stay here as long as the government says that they may. So, voting is an important part of citizenship, but not the be-all and end-all of it.
Earlier this week (on November 16th) I filed a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court seeking declarations that sections of the Vancouver Charter and the School Act that prohibited non-Canadian citizens from being eligible to vote or run in municipal elections was contrary to the Charter. I claimed that these provisions were discriminatory and infringed expression and could not be justified in a free and democratic society.