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Come on Winnipeg. You can do better!

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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.

It's disheartening.

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!

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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