Municipalities across Ontario will be holding elections for mayors, local councillors, and school board trustees on October 22. However, the elections have been muddled in the wake of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut down the size of Toronto City Council, as well as his decision to cancel various other elections. To help you sort through the news, The Varsity has created a guide to help students vote.
Students in Toronto will have 35 choices for mayor, including incumbent John Tory. Other notable candidates include former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, safe streets advocate Sarah Climenhaga, “people’s” lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, and far-right commentator Faith Goldy.
The elections for city councillors are less straightforward.
In November 2016, City Council approved a recommendation to increase the number of Toronto wards from 44 to 47 for the 2018 municipal elections. This recommendation was part of a three-year review, which concluded that Toronto needed to increase representation to keep up with its growing population.
In July 2018, Ford introduced unprecedented legislation to cut the size of the city council from 47 wards down to 25 in order to match federal and provincial ridings.
Speaking to reporters after the story broke, Ford said, “People tell me that we have too many politicians making it harder to get things done, making it harder to get things built, making it harder to deal with the real problems we face.”
“It’s clear that the size of government is just too large.”
In the aftermath of Ford’s announcement, critics immediately voiced their opposition to the plan, in particular denouncing the lack of consultation. Ford’s plan was brought to court, where, on September 10, a Superior Court justice struck down the bill as unconstitutional.
However, hours later, Ford made another surprise announcement, saying that he plans to use the notwithstanding clause from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a part of the Constitution.
The clause allows the legislature to override parts of the Charter in cases where the courts might be interfering with the elected government’s decisions.
In order for this to work, Ford has come up with an entirely new bill, since the clause cannot be applied retroactively. Although the Tories attempted to push revised Bill 31 through on Saturday, resistance to discussion meant that talks will resume at 12:01 am on Monday.
As this is an ongoing development, it remains unclear whether the municipal elections will go forward with 47 or 25 wards.
Under the 44-ward system, the St. George campus is currently represented by Joe Cressy of Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina on the west side and Kristyn Wong-Tam of Ward 27 Toronto Centre—Rosedale on the east side.
If elections proceed with 47 wards, UTSG will continue to be split in two: the east side as a part of Ward 24 and the west side as a part of Ward 25.
Running in Ward 24 would be Cressy, alongside Michael Barcelos, Michael Borrelli, Marc Cormier, Pedro Marques, and Andrew Massey.
The listed candidates for the new Ward 25 under the 47-ward system are Chris Moise, who joined the court battle against Ford’s council-cutting legislation, as well as John Jeffery, Dan King, Ryan Lester, Kyle McNally, Jules Monteyne, Nicki Ward, Kevin Wiener, and Rob Wolvin.
However, if elections proceed under the 25-ward model, UTSG would be brought together under one ward, University—Rosedale. At this stage, City Clerk Ulli Watkiss is still operating under the 47-ward model until Ford finalizes his use of the notwithstanding clause, although Watkiss has warned that reorganizing a fair election is close to becoming a logistical impossibility.
There is no official list of candidates yet, however, a number of people have already announced their intentions to run.
Incumbent Ward 19 Trinity—Spadina councillor Mike Layton has announced that he would run in University—Rosedale. Cressy has said that he would compete in the neighbouring ward of Spadina—Fort York. Wong-Tam would compete in Toronto Centre.
“After discussions with members of the community and much personal reflection, I have decided that IF Ford is successful, and we are forced to run in a 25 seat race, I will be running to represent the ward of University-Rosedale,” Layton wrote in a statement on September 14.
“I grew up in the Annex and have lived in the Little Italy, Chinatown, and Christie Pitts neighbourhoods my entire adult life. The issues facing this community hit close to home, and are issues I have worked closely on for many years.”
No specific voting places have been released as of September 16. According to the City of Toronto website, “Currently the 2018 Voting places are under review.”
Scarborough campus will continue to be contained in one ward in both models. It’s currently represented by Jim Hart of Ward 44 Scarborough East, a former city staffer who was appointed in 2017 following the death of Ron Moeser. Hart is not running in the October 22 election.
Candidates registered under the 47-ward model are Corneliu Chisu, the former MP for Pickering—Scarborough East, who was defeated for re-election; Jennifer McKelvie, a failed candidate in the 2014 election and a former member of the UTSC Campus Council; Paul Cookson; Daniel Cubellis; Reza Khoshdel; Dave Madder; Christopher Riley; Joseph Thomas; and Emery Warner.
If Ford is successful with the notwithstanding clause, the ward will be simply named Ward 47. Under the 25-ward system, it will align with the boundaries of Scarborough—Rouge Park.
As with the downtown wards, the locations of the polls haven’t been specified yet.
Mississauga will not be affected by the Ford government’s plans, as it is a separate municipality. Elections for mayor, councillors, and school board trustees will be held on October 22, in line with the Toronto municipal elections.
UTM, like UTSC, is contained in a single ward, Ward 8.
Incumbent Bonnie Crombie, who took over the chief executive position from longtime Mayor Hazel McCallion, is running for re-election against Kevin J. Johnston, who was charged in 2017 by Peel Region police for allegedly promoting a hate crime.
There are six people running for councillor in Ward 8. Matt Mahoney, the incumbent, is running for re-election. The other candidates are Grzegorz Nowacki, Amadeus Blazys, Adam Etwell, Tariq Ali Shah, and Abdul Azeem Baig.
Students in Mississauga can take part in advance voting from October 5–6 at Mississauga Civic Centre, and October 13–14 at all community centres, and elementary and secondary schools in the Ward 8 area.
On Election Day, UTM students have access to various voting locations near campus. St. Mark Separate School, South Common Community Centre, Holy Name of Mary College School, Erindale Secondary School, Oakridge Public School, St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School, and St. Clare Separate School in Mississauga all offer polling booths close to their classrooms.