Stephen Thiele, Brian Roussie
New Toronto Party to revolutionize City Hall
Friday, December 1, 2006
From the arid and desolate land of the Toronto municipal election, a sturdy tree has started to spread roots.
Party co-founders, Stephen Thiele and Brian Roussie, planted the tree, known as the newly formed Toronto Party.
Given the dashed hopes of municipal candidates and the increasing apathy of the public toward civic elections, the Toronto Party couldn’t have been born at a more auspicious time. Even the most dejected will soon notice the green leaves growing on a tree where there was no sign of life before.
With Vote2006 finished, and Mayor David Miller re-elected with a stronger left-wing dominated council than under the previous council, the work of the Toronto Party now begins for Vote2010,” states a post-election Toronto Party press release.
Hundreds of candidates in Toronto municipal elections suffer the same fate. They come away discouraged and watch the same incumbents celebrating at televised victory parties.
Voter apathy long ago made municipal government, the government of acclamations.
At City Hall, there are never any new faces, only the certain return of career councillors like Howard Moscoe and company.
That’s because municipal elections are structured in a way that all but guarantees the return of the incumbent.
Their secret isn’t so much campaign strategy as it is the unwitting taxpayer-paid support in the years between elections.
Incumbent politicians have an unfair advantage and accordingly it is not surprising that good, aspiring candidates for city council, have difficulty unseating them,” says a Toronto Party news release. “In the City of Toronto, a sitting councillor can draw upon a whopping $200,000 office budget to hire staff, who are often used to build the councillor’s name recognition and who often join their councillor on the campaign trail during election years.
In addition, incumbent councillors have access to a yearly $53,000 budget to engage in further self promotion. This is all your, the taxpayers’ money. This is unacceptable.”
In apathy-plagued municipal elections, name recognition is everything.
How often have you seen your councillor’s picture on material delivered to your door in the years leading up to election year?
The Toronto Party wants to pump new life into Toronto municipal elections.
David Miller can keep his iconic election brochure broom. Toronto Party organizers want to waft fresh air through City Hall and give civic government back to the people.
They are urging the provincial government to amend s. 70 of the Municipal Elections Act, to adopt a process for the registration of municipal parties similar to the registration system for provincial parties, and to adopt a process whereby a party is held accountable for its fundraising activities similar to the provisions found in the Elections Finances Act.
Similar to current legislation in Quebec and Ontario’s Elections Finances Act, we are seeking minimum thresholds for the recognition of civic parties.
In our opinion, in the City of Toronto a civic party of either 100 members or a party that runs council candidates in 50% of Toronto’s 44 wards should be eligible for official party status. Cities with populations of less than 100,000 would be required to meet lower membership thresholds.”
With its chosen slogan of “Leading the Way, The Toronto Party has a platform that serves the majority and not the do-as-we-please agenda of the career politicians who have been running the city into hopeless debt.
The principles of the Toronto Party are as follows.
To bring fiscal responsibility to city government;
To ensure that residents receive value for their tax dollars;
To ensure that Toronto’s government—like all municipal governments—is not in the business of income redistribution. This is the responsibility of higher levels of government;
To ensure that residents are engaged in the civic government process so that future development is in keeping with the preservation of unique local neighbourhoods.
Toronto Party organizers feel the same way Toronto residents do. They sincerely believe that “Torontonians cannot bear the burden of increased taxes. Torontonians cannot bear the burden of continued wasteful spending out of City Hall. Toronto cannot continue to be a city of inaction.”
The winds of change started blowing on the very night Miller and gang were returned to City Hall.
Even as candidates were walking away discouraged from another election where the door was shut on them, the Toronto Party was starting the ball rolling for 2010.
The revolution has begun.
It is the goal of the Toronto Party to contest all 44 council seats in the 2010 City of Toronto election and to choose a leader before 2010 “who will be our mayoral candidate”.
Meanwhile, the legions of disappointed municipal candidates and apathetic taxpayers should take heart: “From little acorns, do big oaks grow.”