GTA voters see security in liberal status quo
If you want to have a good time on election day, bring a baby to the polls. I brought mine Monday morning to the steps of Birchcliff Bluffs United Church, where residents of the Scarborough Southwestern Toronto constituency lined up – masked and physically removed – to vote in the federal election. From the comfort of her stroller, my one-year-old daughter laughed hysterically for no apparent reason at the show, showing far more enthusiasm for democracy than any of the adults who actually participate in it.
I caught Birchcliff resident Keith Chow as he walked out of the church where he had voted for incumbent Liberal MP Bill Blair, former chief of the Toronto Police Department. Unlike my one-year-old, Chow was restrained. “He passed the test,” Chow said of his reasons for voting for Blair and the Liberals. What do you mean by “the test?” ” I asked. âThe test,â he said – as in the pandemic.
In other words, while ruling the country during a crisis, the Liberals did not drive it into the ground. For this reason, Chow told me, âI don’t think the time is right for a drastic change.
I don’t think the time has come for a drastic change.
There isn’t a phrase in English that more succinctly captures the weak spirit of this snap election cycle: an election few wanted that resulted in massive lines winding through town in small polling stations. .
It’s a phrase that also captures the spirit of Toronto, a city that, despite its large size and cultural diversity, tends to favor the status quo in federal elections. Toronto embraces nothing but dramatic changes when it comes to its condo-dotted skyline. When it comes to federal politics, we vote for more of the same. We vote overwhelmingly Liberal.
We can say that we want to do the right thing when it comes to poverty, equity and affordability, but ultimately we don’t have the courage to elect the leaders of the party that really puts these issues first.
âCanadians go for the familiar, the comfortable and the familiar and we don’t know the NDP that well at the federal level,â said Shauna Brail, associate professor at the Institute for Management and Innovation at the University of Toronto Mississauga. This rule also applies to Torontonians: âUrban Canada is still on the whole a relatively conservative leaning group, not in terms of party, but in terms of being comfortable with what is known.
What is known is what is certain. And right now, security matters a lot. Security against COVID-19 in the form of vaccine access and vaccine warrants, bankruptcy security in the form of financial assistance from the federal government. Security against ever more uncertainty.
Cities have arguably borne much of the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, their vacant public transport vehicles, their cores hollowed out, their staff decimated, their intensive care units overcrowded.
Toronto is no exception. Despite the wide availability of vaccines, the Delta variant is here and the city is facing a fourth wave of COVID-19. Things have not “returned to normal”. Not even close. According to recent data collected by the Strategic Regional Research Alliance, only nine percent of downtown office workers have returned to work in person in the downtown area. The TTC is far from the recovery.
âWhat we’ve seen in regards to the pandemic is how crucial the federal government is in supporting Canadian cities,â Brail said. âThe TTC is bleeding money because of a loss of runners. Without the support of the federal government, I don’t know what would happen to our transit system. The municipal government certainly does not have the financial support and the federal government does. What we want from an urban perspective is their leadership in bringing people and money to the table. ”
Opinions may differ on which federal party is best equipped to provide the people and the money to pull Toronto out of its pandemic malaise. But for Toronto, it’s more or less the same.
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