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On Monday October 25th, vote for...

Editorial on the election: Syed Hussan

by Syed Hussan

"Fruits of an electoral democracy"
"Fruits of an electoral democracy"

In a few days, Toronto goes to the election booth. The Toronto Sun, and many Torontonians it seems believe that Rob Ford who has been charged for wife beatingdrunk driving and is known for screaming at little children during football is the answer to many of the city's woes. Others, including the Toronto Star, argue that George Smitherman, known for the eHealth fiasco, his commitment to cutting public services, freezing wages and turning off hiring whileopposing safe injection sites is the real saviour. There is even a small group that argues that Joe Pantalone who has been in the Toronto city council for almost 30 years, overseeing theattacks on Regent Park and now Lawrence Heights as well as the recent cuts to public schools, and everything Miller related, is the correct answer 

Precious little has been said about the various councilors in these elections or what their positions are but considering that the city council unanimously voted to praise the city police force days after the G20 and fought tooth and nail against the city municipal workers, it is safe to say that most councilors share similarities with Smitherman, Pantalone or Ford. 

As an undocumented migrant in this city with no voting privileges (like hundred of thousands of others), I have a somewhat detached view of the issue. I can't vote, so I don't have to decide. But if I could, I wouldn't.

I wouldn't because of all the obvious flaws of electoral politics, the sham that is representation, the immobilizing power of voting whereby people feel like they have done their part by showing up at a booth for ten minutes, the legitimacy the current colonial, capitalist system gains from voter turnout.

I also wouldn't vote because there are no demands being made upon the mayoral candidates. Our choices are to select from the platforms proposed to us, not to develop our own platforms and force candidates to support them. It is as if the only concerns Toronto has are those that one of three rich white men can think of.

Toronto hosts the mining companies that wreak havoc across the globe. Ideas of war and aggression flourish in its Universities. Hundreds of thousands of non-status people live and work and die here. It is a city that sits brutally on unceded traditional Mississauga territory. It is a city where schools are being closed, while poor and working class youth and youth of color are criminalized. Every year the Police murder someone, and every year they are let off scot free, all while their budget keeps increasing.  It is a city where gender violence against women, particularly Indigenous women, and queer and trans folk continues unabated. This is a global city, a sweatshop city, whose actions impact people here and around the globe. A city where the peoples movements within it have the questions and the answers, not the politicians.

What we need today is the ability for movements to work together, in solidarity. What we need is a real conversation about what it would take to have decision-making over our schools, our health centres, our food banks, our shelters, our workplaces, our income security systems. What we need is to ask ourselves how we are going to disarm the police force and develop community justice initiatives. What we need is an end to violence against women, an end to homophobia and transphobia. What we need is to figure out how to push out the arms companies, the mining companies and the corporations that profit from global misery and live in our city. What we need is to form a city that is safe and just for its residents and for people around the world. 

We cannot vote that in. We cannot lobby the politicians that are voted in. We need to fight for it.

So, on Monday October 25th, host a meeting of friends, family members, allies and comrades, develop a plan for action, write a story, make some public art, have a community dinner. If you're a teacher, teach something new. If you're a service provider, have a meeting and talk about how you can make the space safer. Let's build a city safe for all its resident and the people of the world. A city where each resident is able to participate in the decisions that impacts them. 


NOTE: The last Toronto municipal elections saw voter turn out of about 40%. Every organization or collective I've ever been part of would refuse to act on a decision where 60% of the group abstained. The decision would be reconsidered and the mode by which the decision is made would be reconsidered. If it was an issue as important as the mayoral elections seem to be, mass abstention would be a crisis of legitimacy, the group might even ponder if it should continue existing. Just a thought. 


Syed Hussan is a researcher, writer and migrant justice organizer and community activist that organizes in defence of indigenous sovereignty. He is facing trumped up conspiracy charges along with 19 other community activists that were 'preventatively' arrested prior to the G20.

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Tim Groves (Tim Groves)
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823 words



Attacks on Regent Park?


You people are fucking insane. I live here and this is long needed, the cockroach hell we've been living in is being knocked down and new buildings put up! You poverty pimps can suck it and shove your MAs up your assholes. We like the new housing fucktools! Eat my hole.

Thank you

A spot-on critique.

excellent. thank you.

excellent. thank you.

with you

I totally agree with you that electoral democracy all across canada is a sham. Let's continue to focus on our communities and sites of resistance.

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