Looking forward to four more years of community building

A gigantic THANK YOU to wonderful Ward 32 for re-electing me as city councillor again! I am honoured. I am humbled. I am appreciative.

I look forward to four more years of community and city building – this time with less fanfare!

Elections are a time for renewal. They are a chance for new ideas and new leadership to flourish. To ensure that the best ideas rise to the top I am championing several democratic reforms that I believe Toronto needs to enact.

Ranked Ballots

Strategic voting often means that we end up supporting a candidate that isn’t really our first choice, out of fear. A ranked ballot, also known as a run-off system, would allow voters to prioritize who they would like to see as their representative. Toronto city council asked the province to enact ranked ballots and hopefully this system will be in place for the next municipal election in 2018.

Term Limits

As many of you know I support a limit on the number of times any councillor or mayor may run for re-election. I plan to reintroduce this idea soon and ask for a robust public consultation process so that all Torontonians can comment on this proposal.

Encouraging Youth Voting

Many post-secondary students studying outside of Toronto were unable to vote in this election. The proxy voting system was overly complicated and the advanced polls were not scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend when most students are home! We need to encourage our young people to vote by making it easier for them to do so.

Election Day Hours

While the turnout was high in this election, why not make it easier and work toward 100 per cent participation? During this election the polling stations opened at 10 a.m. when most people had already dropped their children off at school or gone to work. Many Torontonians would have preferred to be able to vote earlier in the day.

Campaign Period

The length of municipal campaigns is far too long. It needs to be shortened from 10 months to about four months, allowing enough time for rookie candidates to canvass their ward.

Improve Political Literacy

The TDSB curriculum stipulates civics be taught in Grades 5 and 10. Why not every grade? I had endless kids asking me thoughtful questions throughout the campaign! My fondest experience was a Grade 5 Bowmore student reeling off a stream of questions to me while out door-knocking. He ended by saying he plans to be Prime Minister of India one day. He just might be!

Improving our understanding of local elections is not just for kids. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn about the people running for office. This year some great websites consolidated this information to make it more digestible. In future we must find ways to more widely publicize the dates for all candidates’ debates, the information for each candidate, and the fact that you actually vote for three political positions (many forget or are unaware of school board trustees) on the same ballot.

Once again thank you for your support and I look forward to four great years building community with all of you.

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Well, I didn’t win, but before I saw this, I sent out an email to a few hundred people asking Councillor McMahon to take on an ambitious agenda of things – see http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f714d60f798e120d2f1933204&id=0be275d1ea

It is a list of seven things, and I think that they deal many of the things that were issues in this election, or the one in 2010, like actually doing something concrete about the Boardwalk Cafe/Foulidis deal, and also doing something to reverse the unfortunate OMB decision that will impact the views of the Fire hall Clock Tower. I don’t think the voters support the idea to just give up on these two important issues.

Let me comment on the six ideas McMahon listed above:

Ranked Ballots: NOTHING can happen until the province passes a law allowing this. Mitzie Hunter’s private members bill died with the spring election. She is now in cabinet and this might passed. Premier Wynne is in favour. Essentially this issue is beyond McMahon’s power and at best all she can do is vote in favour if an when it comes up.

Term Limits: Last time, this was watered down from 3 terms to 2 terms, to get Jaye Robinson’s support, and it still lost. Why do you expect that a 3 term limit would pass, given only about 7 or 8 Councillors are new? Will you compromise further – Four terms? Five terms? As a priority, term limits will only take up a few days of your time, and one vote at Committee and at Council. here is the line about the definition of Insanity being doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…

Encouraging Youth Voting: Sounds like a good idea, but youth turnout is very low, and how many students don’t come back? But my real question here is how well informed are students going to be about the race for local Councillor given the lack of press coverage of local races? Students might be well informed about the race for Mayor but might not even know who is running for Council or school board. They won’t be here to attend debates, and won’t see lawn signs. This favours incumbents. This is not a terrible idea but doesn’t seem to justify the attention you have given it.

Election day Hours: I agree with this one. Some people want to vote on their way to work or school as they might work late or do other things and not be back in time later. I think that people who want to vote early in the day might be voting at the Advance Polls to avoid the inconvenience of rushing home on Election Day.

Campaign Period: 4 months would be around late June. Not much happens now between January and June, except that Council incumbents might do some fundraising. Where this does make a difference is that the race for Mayor gets coverage from January. But just as Hillary Clinton is effectively already running for President, just changing the date someone can register might have little impact on what the media covers, but it will make it harder for a lesser known candidate to run for mayor.

Improve Political Literacy: You are “championing” this political reform, but as you note, this is a School Board matter, and you were actively supporting a candidate who lost against the incumbent, who won. I would have hoped that the enthusiastic kid would have wanted to be PM of Canada, not India. I am not sure why you are so keen on him leaving Canada to pursue a political career, as certainly we want kids from all backgrounds to reach the top here.

If we are talking about ideas for political reform, then there are more pressing ones:

Elections are four years apart, whereas they used to be three. After suffering for the 4 year turmoil in Council with Rob Ford’s personal problems overshadowing nearly everything, shouldn’t we go back to 3 years?

Should we not have an easy way to get rid of politicians who should be removed? Fennell, Ford and McCallion and others?

How about moving municipal elections to May or June? In 2018, we will have 2 elections in October! Dumb…

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