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March 21, 2007
City forum calls for voting rights for residents
  
In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination, the City of Toronto today hosted a panel discussion attended by over 150 people at City Hall. “A City where Everyone Counts - Voting Rights and Civic Participation” explored the extension of the vote to all residents as a means of strengthening Toronto’s civic engagement.

The panel, moderated by Councillor Janet Davis, featured Mohamed Boudjenane, Canadian Arab Federation; Alejandra Bravo, Maytree Foundation; Debbie Douglas, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants; Chi Nguyen, Toronto Women’s Call to Action; and Myer Siemiatycki, Ryerson University and Inclusive Cities Canada.

In her opening remarks, Councillor Davis said, “About 263,000 residents of Toronto are excluded from the democratic process in our city because they cannot vote and cannot seek elected office. This needs to change. I want to live in a city which has a culture of participation and engagement, where racism and discrimination no longer thrive.”

The panelists discussed a range of topics including: the low participation of immigrant populations, the relation between poverty, gender, immigration and electoral participation, and the lack of mechanisms or campaigns to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of political representation. There was consensus on the need to extend the vote to all residents, to put the onus on political parties to increase diversity among their candidates, on increasing participation through civic education and allocation of resources, and issuing “governance report cards” for all levels of government, holding them accountable for measurable goals.

Councillor Davis closed the discussion by calling on all those attending to join the campaign for ‘one resident, one vote.’ “An active democracy requires the ability of all residents to influence the actions of government - including the right to vote,” she said.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Janet Davis, Councillor, Ward 31 (Beaches-East York), Chair, Civic Appointments Committee, 416-392-4035
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, Manager, Diversity Management and Community Engagement, Strategic and Corporate Policy Division, City Manager’s Office, 416-392-6824


 

 

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