Even though we are still eight months away from the Toronto election, things have already started to get heated, especially since Karen Stintz and John Tory have officially registered to run in the mayoral race.
Since January I’ve heard a number of people, politicians, and journalists suggest that certain candidates drop out of the race so they don’t split the votes. The fear is that David Soknacki, John Tory, and Karen Stintz—not to mention the suspected Olivia Chow—will make it easier for Rob Ford to win with a majority because those who don’t want to see him in office won’t know who to vote for. It has also been suggested that certain people, like Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, won’t run for Mayor now that Tory is a contender.
This is absolutely ridiculous.
What makes Canada a democracy is the ability for anyone to run in an election, regardless of their political differences or similarities. The more choices we have, the more dialogue is present, and the more democratic our city becomes.
Canadians have become too complacent when it comes to voting. Before the 2011 federal election, everyone was under the presumption that they had the choice of a Liberal or a Conservative government. The NDP finally surged ahead in the polls and proved that it didn’t matter if you weren’t part of the “Big Two”—you could still win it, or at least come close. They became our official opposition that year.
Who says that we should choose between two or three candidates? Hundreds of people register to run in the municipal elections every year, whether as mayor, city councilors, or even school board trustees. Not everyone is a serious candidate, but they all have ideas. Each person has a vision for Toronto, and it shouldn’t matter if they don’t have the funds, the large campaign staff, or a big office. What matters is that they care about the city and are wiling to participate in a friendly and informed exchange of opinions.
It is everyone’s right to be able to run and vote in an election. We should not be deciding the outcome by telling certain candidates that they should drop out because they don’t stand a chance of winning. And if that means more people vote for Rob Ford and he wins again, then so be it. That is the nature of democracy.
Over the next week I will be creating profiles for each of the serious mayoral candidates. Then I urge everyone to consider their choices carefully and vote according to their preference. Who cares if you vote for the guy/girl who doesn’t win?
All that matters is that you are given the choice.