In My Opinion: Our next mayor must be willing to fight for Toronto

Toronto's next mayor needs to be a leader who can fight for the city's needs, writes Beach Metro Community News editor Alan Shackleton in his In My Opinion column.



With 48 candidates declared as of April 17, we do indeed have a race for who will be elected Toronto’s next mayor in the June 26 byelection.

But forgive me for being worried about the future of our city. The level of party politics in this municipal election is extremely frustrating. There’s too much game playing going on, and not enough real understanding of our city’s needs.

Toronto is on the brink of falling into a hole it will never get out of.

Most of the reasons for that are because of the last three provincial governments (Doug Ford’s current Progressive Conservatives; Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals; and Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservatives). They all failed Toronto.

Electing a mayor who puts the provincial and federal governments on notice that Toronto will not be treated this way anymore is critically important. We are the economic engine of Canada, the country’s largest municipality, and Canada’s sixth largest government by population served. We need to start acting that way.

While not endorsing anyone, I’ll tell you what I’m looking for from the mayoral candidates.

Whoever I vote for will reject the Strong Mayor System imposed on the city by Ford. It is undemocratic and a recipe for outright corruption. There are many ways for a mayor to exercise power, but needing the support of only one-third of the votes in council is surely not one of them.

I’d also like a mayor who will represent all of Toronto. It takes a special person to lead this large and diverse city. We need a mayor who will not play the needs of “downtown” and “suburban” Toronto against each other.

I want a mayor who has actually ridden a TTC bus (a bus not a subway) east of Markham Road, north of Finch Avenue and west of Islington Avenue. I would venture there isn’t one who can say that. I also want a mayor who has cycled in a bike lane. Is that asking too much?

Many candidates are framing their campaigns around the hugely important issues of affordable housing, mental health services, policing and public safety. Well, of course. But those are issues Toronto can’t solve alone. We must have the support of the provincial and federal governments. I would be wary of anyone who says they have a “made-in-Toronto” solution to those issues.

As Torontonians we should be demanding more of our elected MPPs and MPs when it comes to our fair share of funding and so should our new mayor. We must have crystal clear leadership on that. It’s all about the money, and Toronto is being ripped off. Our new mayor must be someone who can have not only the ear of the federal and provincial governments, but also the courage to stand up to them and be willing to fight hard.

We are at a crossroads, and this is no time for a subservient mayor beholden to other levels of government and political idealogies.

We must have a mayor that puts Toronto first.

You decide who to vote for. But please, please vote!

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