Did Hazel McCallion's Endorsement Win Trudeau the Election?
Whether or not you think endorsements matter, the fact remains that they're hot, sought-after and boasted about. They can also, in some instances, swing (or appear to swing) a close election.
Right now, there's a certain endorsement that people in Mississauga are talking a lot about.
A few days ago, Mississauga's former and beloved mayor Hazel McCallion threw her support behind Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party.
McCallion recently told The Star, "I know Justin and I think he's going to bring the change we need, especially for Canadian cities. He's a strong, energetic leader."
You can also watch a brief video where former Madame Mayor tells people to vote for Trudeau because he's a, "strong, youthful leader who has a vision and is committed to making real change for all Canadians."
In terms of Hazel's endorsements, they tend to be -- in some cases, at least -- prestigious among local voters. While there were certainly grumbles surrounding McCallion's support of Kathleen Wynne's embattled provincial Liberals, it's no secret that her backing drove current mayor Bonnie Crombie's poll numbers sky high after sitting neck and neck with Steve Mahoney for weeks during last year's historical municipal election. Crombie's numbers stayed elevated right until election night, when she won a decisive victory over her tough opponent.
Also, despite the grumbling, it's still believed that McCallion's endorsement of Wynne was instrumental in getting the premier -- and her hotly contested, oft-criticized party -- a greater share of voters in the last election.
McCallion a highly revered stateswoman. Running Mississauga for over 40 years, she oversaw gargantuan changes in the city's look, population, infrastructure and demographics. While not a perfect mayor, she garnered incredible respect (bordering on awe, in some cases) and her opinions continue to carry weight.
There's also the fact that her reasons for supporting Trudeau are sound. When The Star endorsed Trudeau a few days ago, they praised the party's pledge to grow cities as necessary and not be beholden to the sacred vow of "balancing the federal budget."
That was a refreshing accolade for an even more refreshing promise. While fiscal responsibility is important, it's not catastrophic for countries to borrow funds or run deficits to grow and maintain their infrastructure.
A country is not a household or a business and it doesn't have to be run like one. It need not put profitability or a "balanced budget" above improved roads, better public transportation and stronger, more prosperous cities. Promising to "balance is the budget" is a promise to make people feel good about a government's supposed financial health. To make people feel like the powers that be are watching their checkbooks and saying no to too many extra bells and whistles. It's become an overblown sacred oath that's revered without being understood. There's a time to save and a time to spend.
Canada -- and Mississauga -- won't become a bankrupt cesspool of destitution because the federal budget isn't "balanced." A balance (or surplus) might make people feel good in theory, but it won't improve their daily commute or grow their community.
McCallion told The Star, "I don't think Canadians struggling to make ends meet are too concerned with Ottawa balancing its budget just to win elections, while cities are crumbling and our infrastructure, under their watch, has become so heavily under-funded. Canadian cities are facing a $185-billion infrastructure deficit right now."
According to The Star, Mississauga is shouldering $1.5 billion of that deficit.
She also told the paper, "People at home want the government to spend money, wisely, on infrastructure, to invest in cities and transportation and all the things that create growth and jobs. That's exactly what Justin is going to do, just like Paul Martin when he gave cities a share of the gas tax. Now Justin will carry on that legacy for cities. We are the engines of the country. The Conservatives don't seem to understand that."
No matter where you stand politically, it's hard to deny that a lot of major cities -- and Mississauga in particular -- have tough decisions ahead. They have to address their aging roads and structures, figure out ways to house more people, find ways to move those people and attract businesses and tourists. They'll need more government investment to do it and, after almost a decade of Conservative leadership, it feels incredible (and freeing) to hear serious politicians relinquishing their cliched and rabid insistence on balancing budgets above all else.
McCallion's endorsements have carried weight so far. Mississauga has trusted her guidance when voting for mayors and premiers. It has continued to value her opinions and listen carefully to her recommendations. Major newspapers beyond the city write full articles about her political leanings.
Agree or disagree, it's hard to argue that her influence isn't strong and, in this case, her reasoning sound. Mississauga needs federal investment and, as of now, the Liberals are promising a lot of it.
Will Mississauga go with Hurricane Hazel and cast votes for Liberal MPs at the polls on Oct. 19? Will McCallion help Trudeau achieve victory in Mississauga? If you're a swing voter, has her endorsement swayed you?
Let us know what you think.
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