Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

If it takes more city hall politicians to achieve fairer representation, bring ‘em on

Downtown would get three new councillors under recommendations made by a committee review wards.
Downtown would get three new councillors under recommendations made by a committee review wards.

Before he and his executive committee voted last week to send a report on new Toronto ward boundaries off for more consultant tinkering, Mayor John Tory reiterated his strong belief that people just don’t want to see any more politicians at city hall.

“I have yet to meet my first person — except for perhaps in this building — who wants to add any politicians to any level of government anywhere,” he said.

Well, huh. Tory and I have met, but we’ve never talked about this specific issue. So let me put it on the record: Hey, Mr. Mayor, I’m Matt, and I’d be okay with seeing more politicians at city hall.

That doesn’t mean I necessarily love the idea of more politicians politicking things up political-style all the damn time. It’s just that there are way more important things to consider during this process of redrawing the city’s political boundaries than the number of municipal politicians Toronto hanging out in the council chamber.

The most important? Representation.

The reason Toronto is changing its ward boundaries is because the status quo is based on old data, which means Toronto’s largest ward has almost twice as many people as the smallest. Downtown, where population growth is explosive, has three of the city’s most populous wards.

The status quo means some voices count for less.

Minor tweaks, sure, but the ramifications are big. Right now, downtown city councillors are routinely outvoted by their suburban counterparts, but the votes – on committee and at council – are often tight. The vote to maintain the elevated Gardiner Expressway east, for example, was decided by a margin of just three votes.

New downtown voices on council could mean more outcomes that benefit downtown. And — this is the best part — those outcomes would be more in tune with the will of the people, because the ward boundaries would more fairly represent population.

If it takes adding a few more councillors to achieve that, I won’t complain.

This post was originally published at on 2016-05-30T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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