City hall needs a shakeup
On Council it’s no secret that we have left- “leaning”, right- “leaning” politicians. The fact that we know they’re leaning means that we are associating their ideas with the political ideology of a political party in other levels of government. We just need to say names: Rob Ford, Karen Stintz, David Shiner, Joe Pantalone, Paula Fletcher, David Miller. We know from the ideas they promote to the provincial candidates they endorse, that they are either left or right.
The voices of Toronto are becoming increasing diverse, culturally, economically and experientially. Over the last few weeks the views and opinions on this blog have made three things perfectly clear:
- we want this city to be recognized as world-class;
- the new faces of Toronto are a melange of various cultures and ethnicities, and will represent 60 per cent of the population by 2020 and;
- the issues and challenges faced by this burgeoning population are not being represented through political leadership
Can our current electoral system address any of this? In a word, no.
Here’s an idea: Scrap the current system and replace it with one in which: a) Politicians must publicly align themselves with a political platform and; b) Proportional representation will be introduced to ensure fair representation of Toronto’s 2.5M residents.
If you’re balking at the idea, then present a better suggestion, because as it stands, the “status quo” is just not cutting it for me anymore.
The reality is that city council is fraught with an underrepresentation of voices and experiences. There aren’t enough women, not enough youth, not enough people of colour and the list goes on. Imagine what a new voting system would do to 20-plus year “career politicians” in our municipal government.
First, it would force them to grab the wheel and turn off the cruise control to retirement. Secondly, it would force them to build stronger relationships with their constituents. Most importantly, it would introduce a level of accountability that guarantees that a career in politics is no lifetime guarantee.
Let’s be real here. To pretend that our municipal system is really non-partisan is to pull the wool over our own eyes. And doing that is frankly doing a great disservice to our democratic process. There needs to be a groundswell that will shake up the look of council by 2020 when the population pendulum swings; only two elections away.
Changing our electoral system to introduce proportional representation might just be the opportunity Toronto needs to reposition itself as world-class.