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One Toronto
21/11/2003

A few days after the November 10 municipal election, the city released detailed poll-by-poll results. I wrote some analysis about this, but decided that it was time for a bit of a break from the mayoral race scene.

Both the Star and the Globe wrote it up, but didn't say anything very remarkable. Today I found this article in the Town Crier which also covers the issue, and relies extensively on comments from Ryerson instructor Neil Thomlinson.

Thomlinson says:

This [result] sort of debunks the myth of amalgamation. Weve heard a lot of analysts throughout the election campaign who have said this is really the first election of the megacity were going to have a citywide result and all of this kind of thing. I thought that that was wishful thinking when I heard it first and I still think its wishful thinking now and [the divergence in support for Miller and Tory in the downtown and suburban parts of Toronto] in my view shows it.

I disagree, but also want to point out that the question of whether Toronto is "really amalgamated" is a very subjective one and difficult to prove one way or another.

On the surface, of course, it is plainly obvoius that this was the first real election of the megacity. 1997 was a short sprint of incumbent mayors just after the merger was forced. 2000 was no race at all. This year we saw a real contest between candidates attempting to appeal to the city at large.

More importantly, however, I do feel that the nature of this past election showed that the people of Toronto are thinking of themselves more as one unified city. City-wide concerns were on the mind. So-called downtown issues had some pull in suburbia, and vice versa.

Whereas Thomlinson makes the case that the regional disparty in results for the two major candidates shows that city is still divided from suburb, I would point to the consistency of results for the candidates. It is true that of the 22 wards that David Miller carried, only 6 or 7 were outside of the old Toronto, and it is also true that of the 21 wards that John Tory carried, only 1 was outside of the suburban zone. However, both candidates received a significant portion of the votes everywhere. This is especially true of David Miller who received more than 30% of the vote (on a ballot of 44 candidates) in every ward except one. (The ward that he failed to reach that target was ward 7, where he earned about 29%.)

Anyway, the point is that I think residents of amalgamated Toronto are recognizing more and more that they are in this together. They may have, as the Town Crier article reports, different prioritization of issues, but they do know they are one city. I never thought I would come to recognize any benefits of the forced amalgamation, but in the long run this may be an important one.


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