Cue the perpetual progressive paean, from PEI to Penticton: if only we had proportional representation.
The further left you get, the less useful your vote is. The NDP pulled 18.19 per cent of the popular vote but won 12 per cent of the seats. The Greens had 6.8 per cent of the vote, which would give them 16 more than their current zero. Liberal seats match their 27 per cent. Tories, with just over a third of the vote, took just under half the seats.
So? Old news.
Sure, elections, as they're currently set up, are festivals celebrating mainstream power. And their lopsided nature is having the worst impact on cities. Tory policies amount to an anti-?urban platform: regressive taxation, antipathy toward arts workers and vague hostility toward transit (unless it's expansion lines that let suburbanites enjoy cities while remaining ensconced in sprawl).
An informed guess of what downtown Toronto (meaning south of the 401, between Scarborough and Etobicoke) representation might look like: four or five NDPs, three Liberals, one or two Tories and one Green.
Yes, Tories in Toronto. What that really means is that Toronto would have a voice in the Conservative party while that party would have to face far greater progressive opposition. And more importantly, the deck might no longer be stacked against urban voters.
That last part is crucial. The Libs have been reduced to little more than garlic bouquets hung outside the doors of those a-?feared of Tory vampires; the NDP have been left as the lone standard-?bearers for city issues. But that's increasingly by default alone thanks to their identity crisis.
While it's seriously adorable that Layton said he was running for PM (maybe next time he'll hold out for Astronaut Pirate King), one wonders how Dipper brass thought it was the time to extend their reach without arguing the country-?wide relevance of their core issues: social services, transit, arts. Urban issues.
Perhaps the task, then, falls to anyone concerned with the outcome of the election. Turn your eyes back to your street. We can push our municipal representatives to make proportional representation a municipal issue, since it is distinctly an urban issue.
At the risk of magical thinking, there's reason to believe an urban spirit accompanies urban density. Nothing aerates the mind and soul quite like lots of other people.
And if we must engage with the greater governments, let's be selfish. The feds take more money from cities than cities ever get back, so if we must vote or engage on federal issues, let's see ourselves primarily as raiding parties, pushing for downloading economic and planning powers to municipalities, so the things that shape our cities are that much closer to us.
I'll end by quoting someone who, summed all this up better than I, when speaking of need for "societal change that places more importance on local communities... that has to do with more than just a reaction against distant bureaucracies. Technology allows decentralization. It allows people to work together, without being physically in a central place. It makes use of the higher levels of education, the greater sense of efficacy and the greater knowledge of local conditions that exist in local communities."
That was Joe Clark, by the way - former Tory leader. If any of you happen by the PMO, maybe you can just slip that under Stephen's door for me. Thanks, citizen.