Under new management: Meet the 2015 RaBIT team!

Layout 1Eight years ago, I printed 500 copies of a flyer called “Let’s bring Instant Runoff Voting to Toronto”. I was tired of seeing distorted results after each election and I was frustrated by the negative campaigns, the lack of diversity and all the chatter about ‘splitting the vote’ and ‘strategic voting’. I was hoping to spark a discussion about our local voting system and simply let people know there was a better way to run our elections.

I never imagined that within a few years we’d be on the verge of becoming the first city in Canada to abandon the so-called “First-Past-the-Post” system, creating a new election culture that will be more fair and friendly.

PrintAlong the way, hundreds of volunteers have helped out with RaBIT and some have become part of our core team. This week, that core team is formally taking over the entire project!

Today is my last day with the RaBIT campaign as I’ve decided to step away from the project to focus on a book I’m writing about democracy, to work on a national campaign for proportional representation, to continue my work on the Reform Act and to coordinate a new provincial network of ranked ballot campaigns across Ontario.

nwvLkUVwKN2ULjYs1kWw4u_7zNAjxPgWBVKmRlCDc5o,Wf25X-ZHSGWbQqjanUuwOrfr1uP2GpUB-GNyHQBYwTo,mNAo3oYKC5Yb3gb58TVsvP4SWzKZC-67AjmuSHZzmPYRaBIT is moving forward from our grassroots beginnings and we’re formally registering as a non-profit organisation with a Board of Directors. The new board will be lead by our two top organisers, Katherine Skene and Desmond Cole. Together with the other ten board members (listed below), they’ll guide our campaign through the next stages.

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped out with this campaign, even in the smallest ways. Hundreds of you have e-mailed your City Councillors and many of you have attended our public events or volunteered at one of our information tables. Some of you have donated money to our campaign and over 8,500 of you signed our petition to the province.

I’ve learned so much on this campaign and your support has inspired me every step of the way.

I hope you’ll stay connected and involved. If we can maintain this momentum, we’re guaranteed to see ranked ballots being used in the 2018 municipal election.

2015 RaBIT Board of Directors:

    Desmond Cole (co-chair)
    Katherine Skene (co-chair)
    Chloe Doesburg
    Chris Drew
    Evan Dean
    Jeff Dennler
    Katherine Janicki
    Marjan Farahbaksh
    Michael Urban
    Miriam Fine
    Rodney Merchant
    Sarah Rimmington

Social Media Coordinator:
Michael Wheeler

Metrolinx continues to push for increased driver distraction

accidentThis week marks the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

Every single day Canadians of all ages die on our roads.  Surprisingly, the leading cause of fatal collisions is not speed nor alcohol.  The #1 cause of death on our streets is driver distraction.

That’s why governments, health agencies and community groups are trying desperately to reduce driver distraction.  Yet stunningly, Metrolinx remains the only government agency that is actively trying to increase driver distraction on our provincial highways. Continue reading

Colour in the streets • Bringing street murals to Toronto!

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Across North America, neighbours are coming together to paint murals – on the road! The idea was born in Portland Oregon and has now spread to cities from coast to coast.

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The idea is simple: Street murals are a great way to slow down traffic, make the road safer and also to engage neighbours in a creative process to beautify the community and build stronger connections.

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Inspired by the folks down at Intersection Repair, we’ve started a street mural project in our neighbourhood, Regal Heights.  We’re hoping to paint our first community street mural during 2015, but for now we’re promoting the project and building local support with temporary chalk installations.

This weekend, we took over the intersection of Regal Road and Westmount Ave, in front of Regal Road Public School, and we created our first full-scale intersection mural.

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Continue reading

Diversity our strength?

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That’s the official motto of Toronto.  “Diversity our Strength”. 

We love to brag about our it.  The whole world, on our doorstep.  You can see it wherever you go.  Well, almost.  You don’t really see it at City Hall.

The corridors of power are still – in 2014 – dominated by white men.  Here are some charts showing how bad the discrepancy is, between who we are and who leads us (below).

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Desmond Cole wrote a good piece about this today as well, check it out here. [Note, his numbers are a little different than mine.. I think because he only looked at the 44 Ward seats, and I included the full Council which is 45 seats].

One part of the problem is our voting system.  There’s a tonne of data showing that voting systems have a huge impact on representation and diversity.  Learn more at RaBIT, Unlock Democracy and Better Ballots!

But to be honest, there is no simple solution.  It’s a problem that is fueled by cultural barriers, media bias, voting systems, economic realities, and many other factors.

The main thing, is to keep pointing it out.  To ignore the lack of representation is to normalise it – and legitimise it.  Only by raising awareness and speaking out, will we be able to spark some change.

You know something’s wrong, when your City Council representing “The Most Diverse City in the World” …looks like a lot like the Maple Leafs.

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Did you ever have to make up your mind?

This is it folks!  Nine months after nominations began, election day is upon us.

Tomorrow, we get to choose a new mayor, 44 City Councillors, and our local school trustees.  They will shape the city around us for the next four years.

Lucky for you, a whole bunch of folks have gone out of their way to make it easier! Take a few minutes to check out these amazing community-driven election resources:

Continue reading

Picnic update: David + Dave!

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So four weeks ago I wrote a blog post about my birthday picnic, scheduled for October 5th, 2pm, at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Since then, I’ve learned that some other guy named David is ALSO having a party on October 5th, at 2pm, in Trinity Bellwoods Park!

It seems that the Logistics Team at the International Davids Schedule Coordination Centre was asleep at the wheel.

Luckily, it looks like it’s gonna work out fine! Continue reading

Who wants to be Mayor?

Who wants to be mayor?  A whole bunch of people!

Take the time to find out why these folks are running, and what they’re proposing for Toronto.

[Each photo links to their website. Listed alphabetically by first name]

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