The Friday Rant: I Don’t Want To Vote

Toronto Politics | September 23, 2011

I’m not being lazy or stubborn; it’s just that there isn’t anybody worth voting  for.

In the last three elections, I have cast a ballot for a politician and a party which I had reservations about.  Now I realize: it will always be like this…

On Tuesday evening, I was driving in my car with a client who was about to make an offer on a Danforth-area condo.

We were talking about Toronto politics, and I revealed that I had voted for Rob Ford in the last election.

She seemed downright shocked as she said, “You DID??”  And then she sighed, and gave it a thought, “Huuuuuuuhhhhhhh…..”

I almost felt as if the next words out of her mouth were going to be, “You know what?  Why don’t you drop me off right here at the corner.  I’m gonna skip the offer on this condo.  We’ll be in touch.”

Who you are voting for is always a touchy subject, but who you did vote for can be even worse.

As we prepare to cast our ballots for the next Premier of Ontario, I am completely undecided.  I am one of those 18-20% of people in every Nanos & Ipsos poll that you think aloud, “How the hell can you not know who you’re voting for?”

Well it’s finally happened to me, as I sit in amazement at three candidates who I dislike as people, and for their politics.

I do not want to vote for Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak, or Andrea Horwath.

It seems that every election, be it municipal, provincial, or federal, I cast a ballot for a person who I’m not 100% sold on, and I later look at with some form of disappointment.

In the last federal election, I voted for Stephen Harper because his party’s views were the most aligned with mine.  I think he’s a great leader, if only for the fact that I thought Michael Ignatieff was a complete baffoon.

The Liberals had a great run with Jean Cretien et al, but Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff were both people that I didn’t trust, and who I didn’t think were fit to lead.

Of course, I penned my thoughts on the late Jack Layton a month ago – saying how much I admired him and how I wish he was on “my team,” but the NDP party is, and always will be, my opposition.

So I voted for Stephen Harper almost by default, and now I cringe every time I read about his omnibus Crime Bill.

Stephen Harper scares me because I see a lot of George W. Bush in him.  I’m not going to make this into a religious debate, but I feel as if both Bush and Harper look down on the rest of the common folk from their moral high-ground, and its reflected in their politics.

Stephen Harper tried repeatedly to push through elements of his new Crime Bill, and now that he has secured a majority, he’s pushing all these elements through at once.

I read headlines that say, “Harper to get tough on crime,” and I think to myself, “what crime?”  I’m not going to quote off crime statistics, since most of what you find on the Internet is from before 2006, but I feel as if the media loves a great crime story, and as if Mr. Harper exploits the public’s fear of the proverbial “bad guy.”

Being “tough on crime” is a great election campaign, even if crime has been steadily decreasing.

The problem I have with Mr. Harper’s new nine-point Crime Bill is that it merely increases existing sentences and does nothing to PREVENT crime.

I’m not in favour of simply locking people up longer as a solution for crime, and I don’t think this is, in any way, a deterrent.

I don’t believe that the average criminal says, “Geez, if I get caught committing this crime, I’ll get three years in prison instead of the one year I might have got before the Crime Bill was passed.  I’m thinking twice about committing this crime…”

George W. Bush loved to build prisons and build them, he did!  Now Stephen Harper is following suit, and it seems like instead of trying to prevent crime or examine the causes of it, he’s content to just spend more of taxpayers’ money keeping criminals behind bars longer.

Personally, I don’t think a 16-year-old who sells $10 worth of weed to his friend should face a mandatory minimum sentence.  But that’s just me.

So only months after voting for Stephen Harper, I can’t say I regret doing so (lack of better options?) but I’m not happy with the results.

I’ve written countless blog posts about our mayor, Rob Ford, and while they were were glowing and positive at the onset, they’ve taken a slightly different tone as of late.

I voted for Rob Ford, partly because I didn’t like or trust George Smitherman, but also because I liked the fact that he seemed more ‘real’ to me and wasn’t just another slimy, two-faced politician.  He put his ideas forward, whereas Mr. Smitherman didn’t offer much of a platform other than “Anybody but Ford,” and he promised to scrap programs and spending that were either wasteful, or that taxpayers didn’t want.

When he scrapped the Transit City program, I was completely on board.  I’ve been saying for years that we need more public transit, but above-ground rail lines are not the answer in a city that is already grid-locked.

Developers will build condominiums in the sky because we’re running out of land.  There’s an infinite amount of sky!  So doesn’t it seem to reason that we should build more underground subway lines where we have nothing but space?  I was quite pleased that the Transit City program was scratched, and although it would serve more people than another subway line, I don’t think it fit in with a longer-term plan.

Like the rest of Torontonians, I waited for the results of the KPMG audit to see where all this “hidden money” or “gravy” would be found, but it seems that like George Bush looking for WMD’s over in Iraq, Mr. Ford would also come up empty in his search.

Faced with the prospect of having to answer to the public, he decided to cut services that he personally felt were unnecessary, but citizens were in favour of.

Whatever happened to listening to your constituents?

And while I agree that Toronto should NOT consider an Olympic bid, I wasn’t pleased with his absolute and final say on the matter, as he refused to listen to other city councillors’ opinions, and held closed-door meetings.

As I wrote in my piece on Jack Layton, I believe that a strong opposition party is essential in any democracy.  It’s what keeps the governing party honest and hardworking, and it keeps them on their toes.

I don’t like that Mr. Ford is content to oversee our city by himself, and with the help of his lap-dog brother.

Instead of owning up to his pathetic ferris-wheel-mega-mall-port-lands bid, he described the situation as a “win-win” for Torontonians, even though it was just a win for people who hated his ridiculous ideas and were happy to see control handed back over to Waterfront Toronto.

I’m not convinced that we’d be any better off with George Smitherman, but I’m also not getting what I bargained for out of Mr. Ford.

I voted for Dalton McGuinty in both of the past two provincial elections.

I actually respected him after his first election for answering the question, “Why did you raise taxes when you said you wouldn’t raise taxes?”  By responding with, “Because that’s what politicians do.”

I was alright with a couple of tax increases; money doesn’t grow on trees!

But over the last eight years, it’s the small and seemingly insignificant taxes that have bothered me the most.  Taxes on things like disposing of a printer or computer, or the added tax on buying an aerosol can.

Here’s a statistic for you: In 2009, Ontario’s electronics recycling program collected $33 Million in eco taxes, while achieving only 2% of its reuse targets.  I think it’s fair to say that this tax had less to do with green-friendly initiatives, and more to do with picking the pockets of Ontarians.

I’m not necessarily against higher taxes (it all depends what it will pay for, right?), but I don’t like the sneaky way in which Mr. McGuinty went about it.  How about a forthcoming explanation of what the tax is, how it will be levied, why we need it, and what it will pay for?  Doesn’t that sound fair?  Or am I naive for using the word “fair” to discuss how Ontarians should be treated by their Premier?

And let’s not even get started on the HST.  Nobody wanted it, yet here it is.  That’s classic politics for ya!

So how could I bring myself to vote for Dalton McGuinty again?

I don’t care for Tim Hudak or Andrea Horwath, and I’m torn between thinking “It’s time for change,” and, “The party in power is always best suited to lead us forward.”

Everywhere I look, I see politicians that have received my vote in the past, who are letting me down.

I know it’s impossible to agree with all the decisions that a politician makes, but how about more than half?  That’s a start, right?

Maybe this is a pointless rant.

Maybe this is too jumbled and lacks direction because it’s 1:30AM and I’m really, really tired and frustrated.

Or maybe, it’s how many other voters feel after they’ve seen their elected official take power and act.

I don’t think I’m alone in being “undecided” for the upcoming Provincial election. 

I’ll vote, I just might not know for whom until the day before.

Any ideas, folks?

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6 Comments

  1. Chris

    at 9:12 am

    Since that bumbling demagogue Rob Ford wants to tear apart Toronto to save everyone a couple hundred bucks in taxes, I will vote for the provincial party that will invest in cities.

    Unfortunately, people will not take the few minutes to examine each party’s policy platform. It seems “Stop the gravy train” was sophisticated enough most Torontonians last time around.

  2. Krupo

    at 10:19 am

    There was an article today where Hudak was inviting people to try his pulled pork. Please don’t.

  3. Sarah

    at 11:20 am

    I think having voter’s misgivings is standard in Canadian politics these days. So, you’re normal. There are no guarantees when you vote. Politicians will disappoint, even if they really don’t want to. It’s all well and good to have ideas for improving things (whatever your concept of improvement is) but until you actually get to see how deep the problems go, none of those promises have any basis in reality (like when you make plans to renovate and then discover your plans involve removing a load bearing wall)

    Also, it’s good to remember that running a good, skilled election campaign is a different skill set from managing a province (or country or municipality). Campaigning is sales. Running the place is operations. It’s tough to do both, I think.

  4. Devore

    at 5:47 pm

    “Like the rest of Torontonians, I waited for the results of the KPMG audit to see where all this “hidden money” or “gravy” would be found, but it seems that like George Bush looking for WMD’s over in Iraq, Mr. Ford would also come up empty in his search.

    Faced with the prospect of having to answer to the public, he decided to cut services that he personally felt were unnecessary, but citizens were in favour of.”

    Well, this was expected. There will be very little in terms of actual waste (ie fraud, etc).

    Every tax dollar gets spent. Every dollar goes to some defined purpose. Every person hired fulfills some role. Every role supports some law, rule, regulation, function or program, thus every dollar is spent on something that “needs” doing. So this is the only part he can look at. Say there’s a new law, you must license your cat. Now there are a dozen new people hired to administer and run the program, and another dozen to enforce the various rules resulting from this new law. They all come with their own budget. On budget, which is all KPMG would look at as accountants, there is no waste. Every dollar is perfectly and efficiently spent, on things like cat licensing.

    So this is the insidious part of government growth. To reduce government then, you will find there is very little “fat” to cut, to really reduce things you have to start cutting. And each thing government does has a constituency, which typically grows over time and defends its turf vigorously, so you’re guaranteed to upset _someone_, no matter what you cut. Do you cut cat licensing? Do you reduce it to only license the vicious breeds? Maybe you contract it out? Whatever you do, there will be dozens of laws, regulations and by-laws to change. Suddenly you’re looking at years and who knows how much money before anything actually gets done.

    Good luck to Ford, and others like him elsewhere and in other levels of government. Uphill battle is an understatement.

    Politicians of all makes and models have been disappointing ever since the first guy got elected. Some would say this is working as designed, so no one ever gets too comfortable, even those who play the game well. But this kind of turnover also hurts long term planning. You need to do well before the next election. Next term will bring new promises and new challenges to keep you looking very busy. As a result, we have a hodgepodge of terrible laws and programs, all of which make sense when you consider they were made with a 2 year horizon.

  5. CD

    at 10:23 am

    Voting for Rob Ford isn’t bad. My husband knows him personally and he is a really good person. In the past and present he would pay for underprivilaged kids to attend various sports camps out of his own pocket. He really likes kids. My husband met him when he was a teenager in a football camp in the States.

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