Coming up with a narrative that describes what happened in Ontario’s municipal election last night is probably a fruitless venture. Drawing commonalities between the 444 local governments that selected leadership last night is even more meaningless than developing a common narrative during federal elections.
On the one hand observers, including myself, could talk about a new era in politics, but that would ignore the overwhelming strength of incumbents in all local elections. That being said I think it is appropriate to think of this as a new era in Ontario. There are four new mayors in the province’s five largest cities: Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, and Hamilton. There are also new mayors in Kitchener, Waterloo, London and Windsor. This alone will change the dynamic.
Toronto has elected John Tory as its chief magistrate. Many are hoping this brings an era of peace to municipal politics and progress on a number of policy areas (see transit) that have been languishing. However, most of Toronto’s City Council has been re-elected so aside from the mayor it is mostly the same cast of characters.
Brampton’s political class has been radically remade. Only five of the incumbents were returned to City Council, though two of the new councillors are sons of former political leaders. Linda Jeffrey takes over as mayor from Susan Fennell, but she was the representative for Brampton-Springdale at Queen’s Park for many years. It will be interesting to see how issues play out in Brampton in coming years with fresh leadership.
While I have yet to look into it at any depth I’ve heard that London might have been an interesting election where incumbents were tossed out in favour of a new class of progressive councillors. How will they change London to deal with its problems in the coming years?
While people wake up this morning and start to consider their new roles in our lives as public servants and how they will work together there are other considerations in place as well. At Queen’s Park Premier Kathleen Wynne has many new partners to develop relationships with and work with to solve the provinces problems. In the approaching federal election the parties will probably find candidates from those who made a good showing or councillors and mayors who won and are sympathetic to their causes.
Ultimately I hope that peace, order and good governance takes root in our municipalities, particularly in our largest cities. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all those candidates brave enough to put their name forward.