Thursday, November 6, 2003

It has been many months since the Labour Council started preparing for the municipal election. We recognized the importance of the outcome both for the immediate needs of Canada's largest urban centre and for a process of rebuilding a progressive political base in our city. Major affiliates came together and pledged their support for an ambitious goal of working in all four major races: for the Mayor, City Council, Public School Board and Catholic School Board.

The first endorsement we made was David Miller. Outstanding as a City Councillor and TTC Commissioner, Miller's rise in the polls reflect the strength of his leadership and a vision of hope for the future of the city. If elected, Miller would join Larry Campbell in Vancouver and Glen Murray in Winnipeg as labour-supported mayors of Canada's major cities. This offers real potential for a new dialogue on the role of cities in our country, and reinforces the value of strong public services in our society.

Labour Council has endorsed dozens of candidates for Councillor or Trustee. Incumbents are based on their voting record, non-incumbents on interviews and their policies. We have made particular note of the need to support progressive visible minority candidates Toronto has a long way to go before our elected bodies reflect the diversity of our population.

Our goal is to maintain all of the seats held by NDP Councillors, by electing Jerry Smith in Etobicoke's Ward 6, Paula Fletcher in Toronto Danforth Ward 30, and Stan Kumorek in High Park. As well, we need to regain the East York Ward 31seat with Janet Davis. There are real opportunities to fill vacant positions in Toronto' west end, North York and Scarborough, and more than a few incumbents who deserve to be replaced.

The Toronto District School Board may look very different if the Trustee candidates endorsed by Labour Council and the Campaign for Public Education are successful. Now that Tory-appointed supervisor Paul Christie has been fired, there is a chance to restore democracy and accountability, while giving our students what they "need to succeed". In the Catholic Board some of the worst of the right-wing group may be replaced, but there is still much work to be done to build an effective pro-education coalition.

None of this is possible without hard work. Most of our affiliates have spent time and energy to educate their members on what is at stake. Some have been given tremendous support for the campaigns, and deserve to be congratulated. And now with only four days left before E-Day, we have to do everything we can to make sure that our members get out and vote. This weekend, Labour Council is calling for a mass election blitz, urging every union activist to help out.

This is one of the most exciting local elections in many years. Our collective involvement has reached an all-time high. On November 10th, we look forward to seeing our efforts rewarded with an inspiring and determined new leadership for our city. The people of Toronto deserve it.