The provincial decision to shake up Toronto’s council has multicultural communities wondering if their diverse voices are doing to be left behind in the shuffle.
Ford’s decision to reduce the number of wards in Toronto from 47 to 25 has been widely discussed in the mainstream media and in political commentary from across the province. The city’s ethnic media has been vocal on the issue as well, with many publications advocating for certain minority candidates, or raising their voices on the issue of diversity and representation.
Canadian Korean Weekly reported that the change pits three Korean candidates who would have run separately up against each other. The headline says “Korean candidates in trouble due to bill to slash the size of council. (16-08-18) Meanwhile Correo da Manha advised its readers that the changes do not affect the campaign of Cesar Palacio and Portuguese Canadian Ana Bailão, quoting Bailão saying “The changes are important. What could be an area of 65,000 inhabitants becomes more than 100,000 inhabitants, but the commitment is the same and my campaign is ongoing.”(17-08-18)
For Toronto’s Spanish El Centro editor, Alexander Terrazas, the real question is whether the move is “an austerity measure or simply a political move in the face of the upcoming elections in October.” Adding that “democracy is about listening to the citizens.” (10-08-18) El Centro also published an article saying “Latinos should be concerned by the return of authoritarianism to Ontario,” while the author encourages Latinos to get involved in Canadian politics. (10-08-18).
Tamil, Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish sources reported on the Navigator’s poll that reported almost half of Toronto residents believe that the city council should be reduced to 25 councillors, and Punjabi source WTOR 770 AM South Asian Voice reported that overall people were praising Ford’s decision, while still calling the bill controversial. (15-08-18)
Michael Regenstreif weighted in in an editorial for Ottawa Jewish Bulletin saying “we must protect democratic values,” calling Ford’s decision “vindictive payback.” (13-08-18)
Tamil source Ekuruvi.com reported “reducing seats involves enlarging ward boundaries, which would mean a greater population for each ward and the possibility of reduced service delivery,” the consequences of which “will be felt only in the coming years.” (14-08-18) And All TV Evening Korean news show called the decision “shocking news for candidates running for the upcoming election.” (15-08-18)
Ford’s austerity measure promises led to his victory, and these cuts in Toronto are a big step in that direction. While Ontario’s biggest city raises its voice on the issue, the city’s ethnic media is certainly raising theirs, too. The changing zoning highlights the importance of Toronto’s voices, and the importance of keeping all those voices accessible to decision makers.