With reasonable policies, how is it that alternative candidates have not been a bigger part of the discussion?

With the mayoral election occurring today, most media attention has been tightly focused on the three leading mayoral candidates: John Tory, Olivia Chow, and Doug Ford. Yet, a quick visit to the City of Toronto’s website reveals that there are in fact an astounding 67 candidates running for mayor.

The two most recognizable names outside of the three front-runners are Morgan Baskin, a recent high school graduate, and Ari Goldkind, a criminal defense lawyer. Yet, electoral politics at the municipal level in particular tend to attract people from an extraordinary array of perspectives and backgrounds, and this is certainly true of the Toronto mayoral elections.

Beyond Baskin and Goldkind, some candidates’ plans have merit in addressing specific issues. However, others are highly questionable or plainly offensive, such as Don Andrews, who is the leader of the Neo-Nazi Party of Canada, and Sketchy the Clown, whose candidacy has been based entirely on a satirical parody of Rob Ford.

Morgan Baskin is the youngest candidate in the Toronto mayoral race and initially received substantial media attention, registering for the race at the age of 18 while she was still in high school.

Baskin’s campaign has focused on unifying the typically apathetic youth vote. Her policy is shaped around creating a greener, more integrated Toronto in which barriers to business are eliminated and where technology can spur innovation with a focus on the growth of a shared economy.

Baskin frames her relative inexperience in politics as a strength, instead offering fresh perspective and new ideas that a scandal-embroiled city hall desperately needs. In particular, Baskin emphasizes she is a non-partisan listener with the ability to bring constructive compromise to city hall.

Baskin’s policies on transit, housing, and taxes are less clear-cut. In place of concrete policy she emphasizes consultation with experts and partisan compromise. She believes politicians’ main role should be one of “sober second thought.” However, she remains clear on the need for transit reform, arguing that the city needs to build what has already been planned, and not to replace existing ideas with long-term alternatives.

Currently polling immediately behind the big three in the mayoral election with around three per cent support is criminal defense lawyer Ari Goldkind. Goldkind has continually battled against being labeled a fringe candidate, instead striving to define himself as a reasonable, principled candidate with a balanced and detailed policy.

Goldkind has continued to press ahead, releasing an ambitious and detailed new transit plan entitled “More than a Map” this past Wednesday. As the name suggests, Goldkind’s plan goes beyond flashy graphics offering actual details of financing and long-term planning. He and other candidates have criticized John Tory’s SmartTrack plan in particular for neglecting details that will substantially increase the cost of his plan.

Goldkind’s 21-page transit plan offers a clear and detailed contrast to those of other candidates, including detailed cost analyses and funding options for each stage of his 15–year plan. In particular, Goldkind’s plan is distinguished for its focus on alternative revenue streams such as tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.

Baskin’s non-partisan listening attitude and Goldkind’s straight-forward, detailed-oriented policy both offer a refreshing change from a scandalaized city hall and an extended electoral campaign defined in large part by reiteration of the same criticisms of the same ideas again and again.

As both these candidates illustrate, leading candidates by no means have a monopoly on robust policy or helpful attitudes to move our city forward. Perhaps it is time to address how our electoral system and media prevent these candidates from gaining the same level of coverage as their competitors.

Sasha Boutilier is a second-year student at St. Michael’s College studying political science and ethics, society, and law.

Stanley Trievus is a second-year student at Innis College studying political science and history.

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