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Editorial: Hold Your City Council To Account

Written by
Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay
and
and
October 14, 2022
Editorial: Hold Your City Council To Account
Photo credit: Rishabh Joshi


Welcome to the Arthur Peterborough municipal election special. Our goal in publishing this edition of the paper is to bring students and community members as much information about the people running to represent you in Peterborough City Hall.

Over the course of September, we spoke to four of the five mayoral candidates. (Brian Lumsden refused an interview for mysterious reasons). We asked the remaining candidates questions on topics that were submitted to us from students mainly around issues of housing affordability and accessibility, job creation, and public transit.

These concerns, we are to understand, are amongst the most pressing for students living in the Peterborough-Nogojiwanong area. Within them are implied concerns for social justice, climate change, and all matter of the material and social realities that affect the experiences of everyone living, working, and playing in this community.

The three main candidates for mayor - Henry Clarke, Jeff Leal, and Stephen Wright - have all previously served in Council. However, after spending the past month and a half covering this race, there is evidence of two very divergent visions for what Peterborough could and should be. This can perhaps most easily be defined as a break between generations. There are general rumblings afoot of an Old Guard in Council, the press, and the staff of the city itself, teaming up to do away with the remnants of the new wave of younger, more progressive, councillors who sometimes say swear words on Twitter.

In some respects, they have already succeeded. Mayor Diane Therrien and Town Ward Councillor Kemi Akapo have both very publicly spoken about the atmosphere in City Hall and their reasons for not running this time around. In a recent debate, Henry Clarke took a swipe at the outgoing Councillors and his opponent Wright when he stated “In my time at city hall I’ve never seen a council so desperately in need of mature, responsible leadership.” It’s worth noting that Mr. Clarke has spent 25 years as a sitting Councillor, meaning things are either very bad, or he’s feeling a little bit wistful.

Saying something like this in the presence of a fellow candidate for Mayor, one who has served only one term in council and who during our time together made a point of discussing how close he was with certain outgoing members, seems to make the argument for us. The Clarke and Leal camps seem to be running campaigns bent on a return to some long-gone past, before Bonnie Patterson’s reign of terror, and back when the Ontario Liberals were a viable political party.

In other words, they seem incapable of relating to the experiences of current students and youth.

Meanwhile, Stephen Wright has his eyes on the future, and he has good reason for that given that his past is hardly a gleaming gem of morality. Whether you’re upset about his mysterious trip to New Brunswick in the midst of the pandemic, or his fraud charges stemming from his work with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which he was found not-guilty of in 2012, there are reasons not to trust him. What we can say is that he owns these mistakes, talks openly about them, and attempts to engage in conversation to show you his side.

The more exciting part of this race could be the number of viable candidates running in the wards. Arthur reached out to all of the candidates and requested their responses to a set of questions which you’ll find in the centrefold of this issue.

Peruse these at your leisure, look deeper into the campaigns of all these individuals, pay attention to what they have said and hold them to it should they be elected. Politicians are accountable to us only when we hold them to account. Expecting otherwise is naive, and dangerous.

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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