Go out and do your civic duty

Listen to this article now.

Top L-R: Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Kevin Clarke, Rob Davis and Mitzie Hunter Bott. L-R: Mark Saunders, Chloe Brown, Claudette Beals and Knia Singh

Go out and vote. That’s the advice we are giving to our readers who reside in Toronto and are eligible to cast their ballots in next Monday’s mayoral byelection.

We note that a record number of 102 candidates are contesting the byelection to replace Mayor John Tory who resigned last February.

And we are particularly pleased to note that no fewer than nine candidates from our Black and Caribbean communities are in the mayoral race.

These include former city councillor Rob Davis, former education minister Mitzie Hunter and former police chief Mark Saunders, community leaders with name recognition.

Others from the Black and Caribbean communities who are not so well known, also deserve our consideration. Clearly, these civic-minded individuals have shown an interest in the political life of Canada’s largest city and are aware of the problems plaguing Toronto such as the affordability of housing, transit woes or gun violence, and should be given a fair hearing.

Our congratulations go out to all of them for getting involved in the political process.

According to recent surveys, candidate Olivia Chow, a former Member of Parliament, is the front runner in the mayoral race.

Chow, no doubt, is a worthy candidate for mayor but let us not neglect our duty to go out and vote for the candidate of our choice, whether it is for Chow or someone else.

We know that the modern form of elections and election campaigning are driven by the media who are never reluctant to give their “expert” opinions that often influence the decisions of a large proportion of the electorate.

Certainly, the media do provide a useful service for those who have neither the time nor the inclination to get to know the candidates or what they stand for. However, there’s a tendency for the pundits to steer the electorate in a direction of their own choosing, which effectively takes the ballot out of hands of the voter. You should be wary of giving up too much to the experts and trust your instincts instead.

To us, your decision to support a candidate should first be influenced by deciding which of them comes closest to what you believe in. And while it is true that the majority of the electorate’s votes will go to the candidate that will not win the mayor’s seat, it does not mean your vote is wasted. Instead your vote may strengthen the position of your candidate which may allow them to have an influence in city politics far out of proportion to the number of votes they receive.

In this mayoral election, housing, transit, public safety, and services for those who need to be cared for, especially in the area of mental health, are top priorities for a city that has faltered in all four of these areas. Fortunately, all of the candidates from the Black and Caribbean community offer strong programs in these four areas and warrant at least serious consideration regardless of their odds of winning.

In addition to the three candidates named above, Claudette Beals, Chloe Brown, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Kevin Clarke, Knia Singh, and Jody Williams are the other six from our community, and they are second to none of the 102 candidates in terms of integrity and their commitment to building a city of which we all can be proud.  

We are well aware that many in our Caribbean community do not exercise their right to vote, whether in federal, provincial or municipal elections. But elections do matter, exercising your franchise is a civic responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Your vote does matter.

So, just remember the oft repeated slogan “every vote counts”, because it does. So make yours count next Monday, June 26th.