On Saturday October 21, an important event called “Municipal Elections Matter” was held in Bond Head. Organized by the Lake Simcoe Association, a coalition of citizens’ groups around the lake, its purpose was to inform and engage both citizens and community-based organizations about how their actions can have a significant influence on election outcomes. Advice was presented by experts on how citizen’s groups can choose candidates who embrace sustainability as well as offering tips to potential candidates on how to run a campaign.
The first speaker was Mike Schreiner, head of the provincial Green Party who stressed that community-based organizations are critical in mobilizing people in their communities. He stated that they have made sizeable differences in the past, referencing groups that stopped Dumpsite 41 and other large quarry projects. He believes that too much decision-making by political parties in power is “top – down” noting that local representatives need more flexibility to make their voices heard. He encouraged local residents who are interested in local issues to follow their passions and work towards achieving successful outcomes. He recommended that residents working together to create more “Civil Society Organizations” across the province could produce great results.
Janet Budgell, a councillor in nearby Adjala-Tosorontio and previously in Quebec, detailed her experience running her Quebec campaign while facing little chance of winning. She shared that many people around her gave her reasons why she should not run — that she would lose. Her advice to potential candidates was to work smart and work hard. One strategy she used was to knock on as many doors and attend as many events as possible. The end result of her perseverance and excellent strategic plan was victory. Her comments were very helpful to potential candidates in the room and to anyone considering becoming a candidate.
Claire Malcolmson from Campaign Fairness discussed the changes to the both Municipal and Provincial Elections Act. Campaign Fairness was initiated because of a concern that too much environmental degradation was occurring because developers’ donations were intended to favour development. Campaign Fairness efforts resulted in changes to legislation eliminating the ability of unions and corporations to donate to political parties and to municipal candidates. This change levels the playing field from now on. Campaign Fairness is again an example of how a community–based group can make a large-scale change.
The next “call to action” by the Lake Simcoe Association asks community-based organizations such as IDA to host a meeting in their community to attract candidates, campaigners, citizen activists and voters.
If interested in learning more, please contact the Lake Simcoe Association at:
Lake Simcoe Association is a recently incorporated, grassroots, non-profit organization that is a communications hub for the Lake Simcoe Watershed. The LSA publishes Lake Simcoe Association Forum, which is a special insert in Lake Simcoe Living Magazine; a monthly e-newsletter; and a Facebook page. People and groups across the Lake Simcoe Watershed can get help in publicizing their activities and concerns, especially relating to the environment and are invited to become Lake Simcoe Association Supporters.