Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Guide for the Perplexed: Comparing Bonnie Crombie's and Steve Mahoney's Platforms

Many criticize the media for covering the horse-race aspect of elections rather than highlighting and discussing policy differences between the candidates. I wanted to fix that by creating a table that, as best as I could, compared and contrasted the platforms of Mississauga mayoral candidates, Bonnie Crombie and Steve Mahoney. My sources were each candidates websites (http://bonniecrombie.ca/platform/ and http://www.votemahoney.ca/plan) along with gleanings from recent news coverage of their campaigns, including their profiles in the Mississauga News.

The bottom line is that I don't find the sharp divisions between the policy stances of the two leading candidates here in Mississauga like the ones separating mayoral candidates in Toronto. Perhaps one should not be surprised that two former Liberal Party MPs share many of the same visions, or that both aim to earn the support of many who adore popular incumbent Mayor Hazel McCallion while pointing out a few areas where they hope to improve upon her leadership.

It is not surprising that so many citizens tell pollsters that they are undecided between Ms. Crombie and Mr. Mahoney. There are fourteen other candidates, some of whom like Stephen King, have sharply differing visions for transit, taxes, or public housing, but they do not seem to be gaining any traction among voters.

Please note that the published platforms are quite vague, but in a recent conversation with Mr. Mahoney and others, I understand that, in person, both candidates tend to be more specific about their recommendations. As a result, I will update this table or create new blog posts as I receive more information. If I have made any errors by omission or commission, please comment and I'll review and revise.

Finally, a disclaimer: although a resident of Mississauga and a political scientist, I am not a citizen. Therefore, I do not vote and I have not endorsed either candidate.

Issue
Comments
Development
“Smart development based on family-friendly, mixed-use, higher density development around transit nodes and along major arterial roads” (especially along Hurontario and “downtown”); prioritizing waterfront parkland.
Appoint a Mississauga Community Development Facilitator focused on more liveable and active neighbourhoods.” Dedicated fund for parks and playgrounds; public-private partnerships to develop waterfront. Bond-like loans from pension funds or sales of public utilities for infrastructure.
Lots of buzzwords associated with two pro-development stances that are implicitly critical of the low-density development that has marked most of Mississauga’s residential and commercial development until recent years – when there are no longer many greenfield opportunities for growth.
Transit
Two-way frequent Go train service; electrification of Go lines to speed up service and enable new stations; real-time bus status tracking; study improvements along Dundas St.
Two-way frequent Go train service; Build Hurontario LRT and east-west rapid transit; timed, “intelligent” traffic lights.
Both candidates largely agree on transit, and both support more provincial and federal funding to improve transit. Both are silent on potential bottlenecks like needing to expand the rail corridor through Streetsville (over inevitable community opposition) to enable two-way, electrified GO service. I’m skeptical of Crombie’s claim that electrification will speed up service if so many passengers continue to board at a handful of stations like Cooksville.
Taxes
--
Keep taxes within inflation rate.
Mahoney’s not making a read-my-lips-no-new-taxes pledge, but his emphasis on holding tax rates low differentiates his platform from Crombie.
Anti-Poverty
Work with food banks; reduce wait times for public housing
--
Both candidates are pro-development to the extent to which they are implicitly anti-NIMBY. But surprising that neither say anything about building more public housing or rising housing costs for lower- and middle-class citizens.
Seniors
Investigate off-peak fare reduction for seniors; senior community centres; culturally-specific affordable senior housing.
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Economy
Youth employment initiative; sector-specific incentives; more funding for arts; new engineering school at Sheridan and UTM
Require more apprenticeships at city; start co-op and experiential learning program; recruit international universities to Mississauga; market villages as tourist destinations; encourage recognition of foreign credentials
Strikingly similar proposals that differ only in some small details.
Other
Create a “Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee”;
      Participatory budgeting; improve coordination of newcomer services; enhanced digital services on-line; fair wage and safety policies for city projects; create "Office of the Mississauga Ambassador" for immigrant support, diversity programs and business growth.
Surprisingly, no discussion of increasing services in northwest Mississauga when there are no open community centres north of Brittania and west of Hurontario for the next two years. Also, surprising that crime prevention and policing is not mentioned by either.

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