Editorial: Why you should probably give a shit about municipal elections

Despite an underwhelming enthusiasm to vote, the municipal elections are coming up and you should care about them. Graphic Carl Bindman

There is a noticeable lack of community support and engagement when it comes to municipal elections—which will take place on Nov. 7—but it is essential.

Municipal leaders are responsible for decisions that affect our daily lives and environment of our city including transit fares, rent prices, and police budget. These are all things that have been severely debated in the last couple of years. 

In the last municipal elections, held in 2017, 42.5 per cent of eligible voters cast a vote, only slightly lower than the previous municipal election in 2013, with a 43 per cent turnout. That is significantly less than the turnout for the last federal election in September, which had a 62 per cent turnout.

While Mayor Valérie Plante promised more affordable housing back in 2017, very few new units were devoted to that commitment. Out of the more than 46,000 housing units built between 2017 and 2020, only 7.3 per cent were designated social housing. Rent prices increased by an astounding 30 per cent in 2020, which led tenants to protest against evictions, gentrification, rent hikes, and unfair protocol.

Despite urgent calls for action from citizens to reallocate the SPVM’s budget after a series of racial profiling incidents among other acts of racism, the Plante administration allocated an additional $15 million to the SPVM’s budget for 2021. 

The lack of action from city representatives has slowly contributed to apathy regarding the elections. While both Plante and Denis Coderre continue to tear each other down by pointing to each other’s shortcomings, they have both failed to meet citizens’ expectations. 

The lack of information and an overall sentiment of hopelessness within the city have brought on an overarching feeling of indifference regarding the municipal elections. Citizens have grown distant from the politicians who failed to represent their beliefs and listen to their voices when they needed to be heard. 

Even if you want to find reasons not to vote and protest the incompetence of the municipal government, in the end, municipal leaders are the ones deciding how our money is spent, so you might as well have a say in it.