I wrote a tweet about my October fears, but I think I need more than 140 characters to convey my message; My biggest fear for October 28th is that nothing will have changed! That we'll still be stuck on catch phrases, not on policy that makes TO better.
Politics is a funny thing, filled with so much promise of democracy, of freedom, of progression and yet there is so much that is never accomplished. It is a game of chess, each move calculated, each word rehearsed and each message filled with such emotion that even the most cynical of us stands up and cheers. Despite all the words spoken, we have come to realise nothing changes. It is a dance between partners (politicians and voters) where the song plays and the one leading is the one in control. I fear that most people can agree that the dance partner leading is the politician. Is this right?
My foray into politics wasn't some sort of personal goal that I have had since I was a little boy. This election campaign is much the opposite actually. I entered the race because I felt that a lot of politicians were too busy talking and not doing enough listening! Promises and vague platforms that are not articulated, budgets that don’t make sense and policies that are not always based on merit.
I am coming up onto 6 weeks since I have entered the election for Councillor and it has been a learning experience. Being within Municipal politics really is an uphill battle that many will not be able to win. Fighting against incumbents that have a very definite advantage will be the hardest. Trying to get out a message that is both what you can believe in and what people will vote for is the next hurdle. The last big hurdle is trying to focus on the issues that matter and not get caught up in the hearsay and mud slinging. Some of the issues being brought forth are very real and very important, but others are similar to worrying about the colour of the mailbox as the house is on fire.
I have had clear differences from some others on issues that face our city and how to address them. I know that everything that I stand for may not resonate with everyone, because I am attempting to focus on the possible, the necessary and the most needed improvements. My focus is on Transit, Infrastructure, Ward 3 improvements and lastly civility on Council. That doesn't mean that other issues are not on my radar or not without an opinion. City council is 44 people + 1 mayor making decisions for the millions within the boundary of Toronto. The Ward 3 Councillor will have a vote on issues effecting Scarborough, and the reverse is the same. Council is a collective – each with problems that need addressing, each with similarities and differences.
There is a certain sense of naivety in my platform of POLICY OVER POLITICS because in the end, the politician will likely win over good policy. That doesn't mean I will not fight, not push for merit based policy that will improve Ward 3 AND Toronto as a whole. Not every issue will be resolved in the next 4 years, not all solutions will be popular with everyone. There needs to be a push forward, less posturing and more movement. Make a decision! Involve the constituents in the decisions that will change the landscape of their community. Inform as many people as possible the pros and cons of change, of improvement, of progress.
The next council will have a lot of important decisions to make that will have a lasting impact on Toronto. Some of those decisions are carry-overs from this year that were deferred. I hope the deferrals were based on the need to have a more comprehensive understanding of the choices rather than the fear of making a decision that will not get the current Councillors elected.
I look forward to engaging the community on important decisions facing our city. When was the last time you felt your Councillor really listened to you? I would like to create different ways for residents of Ward 3 to feel involved in the process of legislation. Not everyone needs to be an expert on the issues since various points of view may improve the overall understanding of a proposal. I believe in making sound decisions based on facts, allowing everyone to understand what is actually happening instead of the 'talking points' that some Councillors get stuck on. The Councillors work for the people, they represent the people and should be accountable to the people.
This brings me back to my first sentence, I fear nothing will change. Politics has morphed into a career instead of a position of civic importance. All the circus acts and posturing isn't building transportation, it is stifling it. We need a council that may not agree on everything, but is able to communicate and discuss and VOTE. Have we not learned from the past that standing on a pedestal and speaking words without meaning does not accomplish real action?!! Have we not learned from reviewing transit plans from the 70’s & 80’s & 90’s that they saw the same deficiencies and did nothing?! 40 years later and we still don’t have any of the necessary changes to bring progress, to make Toronto the city we all envision it to be.
But it is not all lost. We are moving forward, bit by bit. Eglinton will not be filled in this time, subways are being built, and other important infrastructure is being constructed. There is so much still to do, and we cannot do it ourselves. We need the support of both the Federal and Provincial governments to pay their fair share. That also means that we the people of Toronto will also have to bare some of the costs. Hard decisions lay before us, real debate and true fulfilment of promises must be accomplished.
On October 27th make an informed choice on who you want as mayor, who you want as your Councillor. Don’t let someone else make the decision for you – every vote counts. Get involved by listening to what is being said and take the time to understand the issues and the options presented. YOUR involvement in the process is not only necessary but it should be expected. I'll be in the community day and night doing the best job possible to build a better Toronto.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I am not a politician. I am committed to listening to new ideas, to discussing policies that I may not agree with and be civil about the process. The next 4 years will set the tone for decades to come. Making hard decisions and pushing forward to accomplish policy driven changes are cornerstones of my platform.
A vote for Peter Fenech on October 27th is a vote for change that MUST be done, a vote for change that WILL be done!