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Toronto Needs Municipal Political Parties
Last October the Toronto Land Transfer Tax Coalition ran a slate of 32 candidates in the City of Toronto municipal election. Unfortunately, our candidates could not identify their affiliation with our political organization on the election ballot as the Ontario Municipal Act does not allow political parties at the municipal level of government in Ontario.
The coalition feels that this legislation is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional. Vancouver has had political parties at the local level of government for over 70 years, and Montreal has municipal parties, then add cities like New York, London, Stockholm, Rome and Tokyo to mention a few. Municipal parties, like provincial and federally run political parties are part of our democratic process.
The right to party affiliation, the right to vote for the candidate of your choice and the freedom to choose the candidate that will best represent the issues of voters is a fundamental right for voters across the country and should be applied equitably in each province and at every level of government. The sad reality in Ontario is that it is not.
Our candidates, along with candidates from The Toronto Party were not permitted to identify our affiliation with our respective political organizations on the election ballot. As a result, this had a major impact in electing not only our candidates, but also candidates running for other political organizations.
This must change. The Toronto Party has filed an application before the courts to amend the Ontario Municipal Act to allow for municipal parties at the local level of government in Ontario. The Toronto Land Transfer Tax Coalition agrees with the Toronto Party on this issue and will give them our full support in amending the act.
The advantages of political parties at the municipal level of government are: Parties focus on the issues in an election campaign, improved voter turnout at the polls, as has happened in Vancouver and Montreal, political parties create a clearly articulated vision for the future, candidates run on city-wide issues based on voter concerns and a party platform, parties also provide voters with a clear understanding of where a politician stands on an issue, parties encourage diversity in their choice of candidates fielding candidates with various cultural and social backgrounds, parties increase accountability, transparency, fiscal responsibility and get voters more involved in the electoral process. The major difference between city politics and federal or provincial politics in Canada is the absence of political parties.
We need political parties at the municipal level of government. It is what voters want. To deny Toronto voters their right to vote for a political party of their choice is not only unconstitutional but it is a slap in the face to our cherished democratic process.
Toronto Land Transfer Tax Coalition
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