Apartment dwellers are the big losers in the Thu, Jun 3 provincial election.
Traditionally, tenants are much less likely to vote than those who own their homes. This election, enumerators will not be updating voter lists. And tenants are much less likely to appear on the old list – recycled from the 1997 federal election – than home owners.
Tenants’ issues are important for Toronto’s gay men and lesbians. We’re big renters. According to Xtra’s most recent reader survey, conducted last November by Angus Reid, 61percent of our readers are tenants.
Even if you own a home in Toronto, you should be concerned about what a deregulated rental environment means for the city. The Tories abolished rent control last year. Already, rents have skyrocketed. Downtown homos are paying outrageous portions of their income on rent. Others are finding the area unaffordable, and fleeing the scene. And local small businesses will suffer if remaining residents have less disposable income.
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There are other housing issues of interest to Torontonians. The Tories want out of the public housing business, but have not made it particularly easy for anyone else to get into it. This leaves Toronto, with a collection of gargantuan, outmoded public housing projects, in the lurch.
If the Tories want to discourage renting and social housing, why don’t they make it easier for people to buy their homes? I have friends who pay more rent on tiny bachelor apartments than I do for my mortgage. It’s coming up with the down payment that’s difficult. Ordinary people need access to capital if they’re expected to improve their lot.
How about arranging interest-free loans for poor people, Mike?
If there’s a voting trend for homosexuals this year, it’s likely to vote against the Tories and against the NDP. That means, in most cases, a strategic vote for the Liberals.
There is little left to be said about the Tories. Their hapless slashing and burning has hit Toronto hard. And personally, I still can’t bring myself to vote for the provincial NDP. While I don’t usually carry a grudge, their fumbling of Bill 167, the 1994 failed spousal rights legislation, was beyond irresponsible.
The NDP’s conduct on Bill 167 was a cowardly shrivelling of its own social justice mandate, and a callous betrayal of people who were core supporters. At least Mike Harris has the balls to do what he says he’s going to do.
If you haven’t received a personalized notice telling you where to vote, you’re not on the voters’ list. Call Elections Ontario at 1-800-677-8683 to find out how to register and where to vote.
David Walberg is Publisher for Xtra.