In the Media: Nelson Wiseman and Karen Chapple break down today’s election of Toronto’s next mayor

June 26, 2023 by Sean Bettam - A&S News

A by-election today for the next mayor of Toronto sees a field of more than 100 names on the ballot. The extensive roster of candidates from which voters can choose is due partly to the fact the incumbent mayor is not one of those seeking the role, and because a $250 fee and a list of 25 signatures are all a Torontonian needs to run for the position.

Department of Political Science professor emeritus Nelson Wiseman and School of Cities director Karen Chapple, a professor in the Department of Geography & Planning, reflected on the race in BBC News, examining the variety of candidates and the promises they’re putting forward to support their vision for the city.

In contrast to last fall’s election that returned incumbent mayor John Tory to office in what some proclaimed a “landslide” at the time, Wiseman described today’s by-election as a wide-open race. "The difference between last time and this time is we don't know who is going to win," Wiseman said.

Experts and candidates have said that having more than 100 candidates on the ballot could both be a positive and a negative thing, ensuring that a range of perspectives are heard and included. However, Chapple notes it also means that Toronto's next mayor will likely be decided by a very small percentage of the population. "You could have a situation where you could have an extreme minority essentially making decisions for the city," she said.

Chapple remarks on how the breadth and diversity of candidates this time around tells a story of how fragmented the city has become, with a population of nearly three million – including many newcomers and immigrants — who bring different perspectives on what kind of city Toronto should be.

"You're seeing sort of a reflection and microcosm of what Toronto is as a city," Chapple said.

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