Think local, vote federal
Where do cities (and towns) fit into the federal election? Plus: Lethbridge and reconciliation
|Andrew Kurjata||Oct 20, 2019|
Why Canada’s federal elections ignore cities
Tim Querengesser has published a piece in the Globe and Mail arguing cities (and towns and urban areas generally) should be/should have been a bigger factor in this election:
“Eight in 10 of us now live in an urban area, according to Statistics Canada. The majority of our economic might is clustered in our census-metropolitan areas – a bland term for regions that include multiple towns, suburbs and cities but operate as singular labour, transportation and housing markets. Think not just Toronto, but rather Waterloo to Whitby. Think not just Calgary but Airdrie to Okotoks.
“These cities and municipalities now produce more than 70 per cent of Canada’s GDP and welcome the majority of the more than 280,000 new immigrants to Canada each year. They will be where fights against climate change, affordable housing and opioids are won. But to survive, let alone thrive, these same cities are still forced to beg larger governments for money, as well as navigate their shifting political currents.”
It delves further into why cities may not be getting much play (the suburbs being where all the swing votes are; regional resentments) and is well worth your time.
And if you are convinced you want to factor in party promises for local governance into your vote, you might want to check out the Federation of Canadian Municipalities election platform wish-list, which includes a permanent doubling of the gas tax fund (used to pay for roads, snow-clearing, etc), broadband internet for rural areas and climate change mitigation strategies. They also have released responses to every major party platform.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities: Our platform and platform tracker (buildingbetterlives.ca)
Mayors urge sustained funding for cities (op-ed by mayors of Toronto and Edmonton in the Toronto Star)
The city of Lethbridge seems to be doing some interesting work around reconciliation? In addition to adopting the Blackfoot word “Oki” as its official greeting, the southern Alberta city has announced an official day to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and marks an annual reconciliation week.
I’ve been trying to find a deeper dive into the undercurrents of all these moves and so far the closest I’ve come is a piece in the Oct. 14 print edition of Maclean’s that noted the city had toyed with adopting Blackfoot as an official language but was worried about the cost implications/logistics as well the fact that Lethbridge has the busiest safe injection site in North America? But I can’t link you to it, so maybe go read it in your local library if you’re interested!
Quick note that I am aware I kind of dropped off with these and I make no promises that I’ll return to a regular schedule, but I hope you don’t mind the occasional unannounced newsletter when the mood hits.
See you on the other side,
Andrew | @akurjata