Toronto election: Everything you need to know about Monday's vote if you haven't been paying attention
Published Friday, June 23, 2023 5:54PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 24, 2023 8:10AM EDT
In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past 3 months, here’s what you need to know about Monday’s mayoral byelection in Toronto in five minutes.
WHY ARE WE HAVING THIS ELECTION
February held a surprise almost no one had on their Toronto politics bingo card: former mayor John Tory announced that he was stepping down from office, just a few short months after getting re-elected to a third term, due to an affair with a staffer.
The announcement shocked the city and touched off a race to pick a new mayor.
WHO ARE THE MAIN CANDIDATES?
The almost unprecedented open race drew interest from a record 102 candidates who signed up to run.
But around seven key candidates have managed to garner enough support in the polls to get media coverage, inclusion in most debates and to be considered viable.
The leading candidates in the race are Olivia Chow, Ana Bailao, Mark Saunders, Josh Matlow, Anthony Furey, Mitzi Hunter and Brad Bradford.
Of those, Olivia Chow has been leading the pack in the polls since the very start. The former city councillor and MP has been campaigning on a promise to make life easier for people who are struggling.
Chow is popular with progressives and is promising things like stronger protection for renters and building more affordable housing.
However she has been criticized heavily for not being more transparent about how she would pay for some of her campaign commitments, particularly when it comes to property taxes.
Mark Saunders, the city’s former police chief, has said people are “scared” of a Chow win because of her lack of transparency on taxes. He’s framed his candidacy as an effort to stop Chow and has campaigned on a law-and-order platform, particularly better security on the TTC. He’s been endorsed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has said he thinks a Chow win would be a “disaster.”
Another strong contender in the polls has been Ana Bailao. The former city councillor is a centrist who has said she can make consensus with others, including the other levels of government. One of her main promises is getting the province to take responsibility for the DVP and Gardiner Expressway in order to save the city hundreds of millions of dollars, though Queen’s Park has not expressed any interest in doing so. Bailao was a deputy mayor under John Tory and received the former mayor’s endorsement.
Two others with council experience are also among the top contenders.
Josh Matlow has been on council since 2010 and has run on a platform of carefully costed promises around improving transit, building housing and creating community spaces for young people on evenings and weekends. Like Chow, he would scrap the eastern elevated portion of the Gardiner Expressway, a promise he says would save hundreds of millions of dollars that could be put towards housing.
Meanwhile Brad Bradford, a second-term councilor and former city planner, has promised to accelerate the rebuild of the eastern Gardiner to minimize the impact on traffic. Bradford has run on a campaign of bringing accountability to city hall and has promised mandate letters to city department heads and getting tough with staff who don’t perform.
Mitzie Hunter hasn’t been on council, but she does have political experience as a former education minister in the Kathleen Wynne government. Like Matlow, Hunter has also put forward a series of thoughtful and detailed proposals around social programs, housing and community spaces.
Aside from Saunders, Anthony Furey is the other right-wing contender in the race. The former columnist has also cast himself as an outsider who can fix the mistakes made by politicians. He has framed the opioid crisis as the main problem facing the city and has promised to shut down safe consumption sites and replace them with treatment centres, though his plan contradicts expert advice and he has not said how he would pay for the treatment centres.
- IN DEPTH: Click here and use the navigation at the top to see a more detailed profile on the top candidates
WHAT IS THIS ELECTION ABOUT AND WHAT ARE CANDIDATES PROMISING?
Each of the candidates has sought to frame the election in their own terms. Some of the top themes that have emerged are affordability, service on the TTC, public safety on transit, housing, the city’s relationship with Queen’s Park and the opioid crisis.
Ultimately, candidates have presented dueling visions of Toronto to voters, some focused on low taxes and core services, and others focused on improving city services to help those in need.
- WATCH: You can read a summary of CP24’s June 15 mayoral debate and watch the full debate (at the bottom of the page) here
But looming over all of it is a massive budgetary shortfall of around $1.5 billion in pandemic-related costs. The higher levels of government have not come to the table to fill it, and ultimately any mayor’s ability to do anything will be hampered by their ability to pay for it as the city navigates a precarious financial situation. Without new revenue tools or taxes, it’s likely the city will have to slash services.
- IN DEPTH: You can see a detailed comparison of what the seven leading candidates are promising to do with the Promise Tracker compiled by CP24.com
HOW DO I VOTE
Election Day is Monday, June 26 and the polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.. Most voters will have been sent a voter information card in the mail. You can still vote of you don’t have one though.
- IN DEPTH: Click here for a full rundown of everything you need to know about who can vote and how to vote
WHY SHOULD I VOTE?
The next mayor will have a number of key decisions on their plate when it comes to the future of the city and will have more power than ever to enact that vision, given the new strong mayor powers. Toronto’s mayor often sets the agenda for city council and has the power to push through their priorities in the budget process, through committee appointments and in a number of other ways. If there are city services that matter to you, like libraries, garbage collection, policing, parks, libraries and transit, then whoever sits in the mayor’s chair will make a difference in your life.
HOW DO I FOLLOW WHAT’S HAPPENING?
CP24 will have extensive coverage of the election online and on-air all day long on Monday and after the results come in. You can also familiarize yourself with our election map in advance here.