Like the City of Toronto, the City of Mississauga will hold municipal elections on Monday, October 25. (Advance voting is already over.) But unlike the elections in Toronto, the elections in Mississauga attract very little attention, including, I think, for most residents of Mississauga. There are lawn signs everywhere announcing candidates' names in big bold letters, but other than that... almost nothing.
This is the first election for which I'm eligible to vote in Canada, and municipal elections can be very important, and Allan and I both want to vote. But we have no idea who to vote for. We have no idea what any mayoral or city councillor candidate in our ward stands for.
I did some research, or tried to. I started at the Mississauga Elections website, and from there visited various candidates' websites. These turned out to be either nonexistent, or a confusing mess, or the blandest rhetoric ("working together, we can make this city a better place..."), or ridiculous wishful thinking (let's lower taxes, increase services and make everyone rich!).
I know a few activists in Mississauga, people who care about public sector jobs, the environment, public transit and other municipal issues. Is anyone familiar with any of the candidates in Ward 4? Is there a progressive person running for Mayor? Hazel McCallion will win, of course, but is there a progressive alternative I can support? No one knows.
Many of my neighbours are displaying lawn signs, either for the incumbent, or for a candidate whose last name reflects their own ethnic background. Not much of a way to choose a candidate. The pamphlet we received from the incumbent, Frank Dale, gave me the creeps. Everyone pictured in it was white, and there was no mention of diversity or multiculturalism - this, in one of the most diverse, multicultural cities in North America. Councillor Dale also wants to bring more police to Mississauga to maintain order and security. Let me tell you, Mississauga is pretty orderly and secure. Crime should not be a high priority. So I'm disinclined to vote for Mr. Dale. But is this really enough to go on? No. And who do I vote for instead? No idea.
There is one potential source of information: debates and candidates statements on Rogers Channel 10, the local access channel. They seem to rebroadcast the debates often (why not, there's nothing else to show), and there's probably video somewhere. Are the debates a bunch of softballs and innocuous statements? I'll find out.
But even with this option, my point remains. If a concerned resident doing research can't find out who stands for what, how are people making ballot decisions? It doesn't bode well.
Update. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but: RogersTV to the rescue! Channel 10 is local programming all over Rogers' territory. At this very moment, I am watching a debate among candidates for councillors for Ward 4. I think I found the only progressive - or at least small-l liberal - in the bunch: George Kairys.
In addition, my socialist/labour/peace-activist friend in Mississauga has recommended a mayoral candidate, and I'll be watching out for him in the mayoral debate that I'm taping this weekend.
Hooray! I'm going to vote!