Should transit trump jobs in mayoral races?

Why do mayoral candidates talk more about transit than about jobs in their campaigns?

Is it that the polls identified transit as the issue that gains most traction among voters, and therefore the issue that will most strongly influence their choice for mayor? Or is that a mayor is seen as having very limited control over the policies and levers that determine any significant amount of job creation?

If the voters in Toronto could select a priority concern and impose that concern as the top policy issue on their new mayor, the issue would be jobs. The fact is that employment, earning capacity, underemployment and meaningful employment rank higher as quality of life factors than transit. And this is so in spite of the reality that transit creates serious personal and systemic problems such as stress, lost personal and family time, increased pollution, lost production and productivity, as well as injuries, death and damage to property when accidents occur.

Therein lies a sharp difference between the priorities of the three leading candidates and those of the numerous candidates seen as having no chance of winning the mayoral race. The latter place greater focus on poverty reduction, job creation, equity and diversity issues, youth and community development, education, housing and health than on transit. Transit dominates the electoral platform of the big three.

The candidate whose transit plan has received the most traction among the analysts and commentators is John Tory. Transit is the number one priority on his platform for a “livable, affordable and functional city”.

Olivia Chow, on the other hand, may not have intended for eight of the 18 issues outlined on her website platform to be related to transit. In her emphasis of “Real Progress Now”, two of those eight and all of the other 10 issues relate to job creation and the quality of life issues preferred by the more socially conscious candidates outside of the top three.

As for the candidature of “the Ford legacy”, there has been only one main plank, the claim of a track record of billion-dollar savings, which was subsequently accompanied by a transit plan that is generally considered as being unworthy of comment, far less analysis.

The Caribbean Camera does not share the view that transit deserves the pre-eminent pride of place it has received in the campaigns of the three “leading” mayoral candidates and in the debates among the candidates. The priorities set out so forcefully and eloquently by the candidates who do not figure in the polls represent a far more balanced approach to the needs of the people of Toronto.

Furthermore, it is quite likely that, as long as there is a larger than usual turnout of voters on election day, the immigrant communities, young people and the unions will cast their ballots for the candidate whom they trust to lead a caring City Council in taking decisions based on building consensus among councillors.