Ontario voters went to the polls yesterday in municipal elections.
In Ottawa, where I voted as a resident for the first time since moving here in 2008, voter turnout is currently estimated at 44 per cent.
That is down 10 points from four years ago.
In a city where so much of the population works for government, and is surrounded by it, you'd think the civic duty would be more deeply ingrained than anywhere else. But in Toronto, we were shown up by nearly nine points, with 52.6 per cent turnout. That is up more than 12 points from last time. The fact just achieving 50 per cent is considered a decent benchmark makes me sad.
But at least it's more than the halfway point.
In Ottawa, there was a record number of candidates (20 for mayor and 110 for 23 council seats). And clearly voters were motivated for change since six councilors and incumbent mayor Larry O'Brien were all sent packing.
But still more than half of registered voters didn't bother to do anything. The weather was good. Great actually. Considering there was snow falling here just a few days earlier, it was a balmy day with only a little bit of rain.
One thing that I thought was somewhat limiting though is that polls didn't open until 10 a.m. It meant voting before the normal work day began was out of bounds.
Trust me, taking the time to vote makes you feel good. It means when things happen in the city that you like, you can feel that you played a part and when things happen that upset you, you can complain. If you don't vote, you can't complain about taxes, bad garbage collection, bikeways or buses. If you don't vote, you can't say the city isn't listening to its voters on traffic circles because guess what? You're not one of them!
So Winnipeg, tomorrow is your chance. Calgary put up a 54. Toronto a 52.6. Ottawa a 44.
Put 'em all to shame!