Hello, my name is Adam Smith; lifelong Toronto resident, father, activist, and two-time candidate for Toronto councillor. I created the Restore the Wards campaign to convince provincial parties and candidates that restoring Toronto’s wards prior to Ford’s 2018 mid-election slashing was an important issue in the 2022 Ontario election. Sadly, it was not.
You know the elite have won when the people reject democracy. In 1975, two years into our last era of high inflation triggered by the OPEC oil crisis, Rockefeller and his fellow elites at the Trilateral Commission published a paper called “Crisis of Democracy”. Do you know what they felt the crisis of democracy was? An “excess of democracy”. Yes, ironic as that sounds, they found that too many people exercising their democratic rights was interfering with the elite’s ability to impose their agenda. Sounds diabolical? It’s easily found:
“some of the problems of governance in the United States today stem from an excess of democracy… Needed, instead, is a greater degree of moderation in democracy… the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups.”
47 years later and it would seem they’ve accomplished their goal. Voter turnout for the provincial election was an all-time record low at 43%. With Ford getting 40.88% of the popular vote that means 17.58% of eligible voters gave Ford 100% of the power. Due to the distortions of our archaic first-past-the-post electoral system, the NDP had just shy of quadruple the number of seats of the Liberals, and yet the Liberals had more of the popular vote, while the PCs now have a super majority, controlling over 66% of seats.
The Restore the Wards campaign was a dismal failure. Not only did it not pick up steam with the public, very few candidates beyond the NDP pledged to restore the wards, and only two Liberals and nearly a dozen Greens pledged. From reactions on social media I can tell you that the majority of people seem to think less democracy is a good thing, that less politicians is always a move in the right direction.
Cynicism and distrust is super high, people who complain about never being heard and having no say are ironically clamouring for less representation and more concentration of power. And whether they realize it or not, that means they are asking for even more elite and unaccountable politicians, because with larger wards it will be even harder for someone lesser known and independent to ever get a foothold against a candidate with elite connections and a deep election war chest. City hall will become even more overtly partisan.
The longer Toronto stays in 25 wards the more likely it will remain this way, and we will continue to have the least amount of municipal representation for a city our size in the developed world. It’s always been obvious to some that we don’t actually live in a free and democratic society, that ultimately the elite run the show and we’re all just along for the ride. Unfortunately more people are finally waking up to that reality, it’s just too late to do anything about it.
It’s a shame to end this campaign on such a sour note. I truly believed what Ford did to Toronto was a travesty and an attack on democracy, but very few seem to agree, and so many seem not to care. Which is exactly where the elite want us. They strived for “apathy and non-involvement”, now it’s clear they have it.
I will continue trying to fight for increased democracy and a more equitable society, I encourage others to do so too, but the elite have the public so well-divided and thinking only of themselves that such a goal seems ever more a fantasy. Stay well everyone…
Adam Smith, 21st Century