Election Issues: The Man Behind The Curtain.
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Often times during elections you will see signs seemingly everywhere. You'll come home to literature from multiple candidates or doorhangers which, if I am going to be honest, go into the garbage (or hopefully recycling) 95% of the time. The goal is not to sway you, but to instill someone as the clear victor. Why even bother voting for the candidate you prefer if every street is covered in signs with the name of another? The answer is quite simple, and that is: it works. I, as a candidate, am NOT asking for your money. But sadly many other candidates are and will, in fact the maximum allowable campaign expenditure (we'll know for sure in about a week) is over $60,000. Sixty. Thousand. Dollars. I was sent this "rough" figure directly from the City of Toronto. Yet, personal contributions (a candidate and their spouse) are capped at roughly $18,000. So where does the rest of the money come from? What i'll say next is based on my experience in helping other politicians get elected. It's not fact, but a personal observation and anecdote (this clarification may or may not have been said for legal reasons). Wealthy donors find ways to work around contribution limits. When I was younger, new to the scene and looking to get into "politics" I was influenced to work for candidates (who won elections and still hold office in important positions by the way) by an individual(s) from a large public affairs firm. Is it a stretch to think I was paid under the table for "Volunteering" for certain candidates or incumbents that benefitted their clients? I have no official opinion on the matter.
The fact is, as I now know, certain candidates seldom care about you, your family or your community after election. Their primary job is to get re-elected, everything else comes second. Helping people is simply a perk of the job, not the purpose of it. I know because I saw it happen. I've spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours canvassing (the people who bother you during dinner) and have seen politicians lie or misrepresent the truth directly to people's faces. There is no shame, it's business. The goal is to control the narrative, make you feel that you matter and move on. They openly talk about voting blocks in terms of race or income. "The White vote, the Asian vote, the Black vote, or the Indian vote" There will be discussions that include: "These people are in low income housing/are X race or make Y money so they don't/do vote for "us" so let's not canvass there because we can spend time with people who actually matter" or "who cares about this community they never vote for us anyways"(you only matter if you can be swayed).
This is not a left wing vs right wing issue either, there are bad actors on both sides. This is people using populism to advance their personal agendas. If you don't believe me go ahead and google "public affairs firms Canada" or "Government relations firms Canada". Then go to the staff and click their bio's. It's amazing how many of them held positions in government.
Are they bad people? Usually not, but let's be clear here. Public positions are stepping stones into private business. It is how you "earn your stripes". There are candidates who are there for the benefit of the body politic, certainly. Unfortunately there are many who are not. In this riding, after the councillor that was elected was proven to not only be mismanaging campaign funds, but was recorded, by me, saying things that undermine the very values of our constitution. He still managed to hold on to power until removed by a court of law for an unrelated campaign finance issue. Meanwhile his staff still hold all their positions, collecting their salary. (Except for one who legally cannot accept pay as a condition for running for council, which he is). This is a clear demonstration of how bad things were. In some cases, I can envision certain areas being worse.
So what are we to do? Is our democracy doomed? Are lobbyists and personal gain the only driving forces for change in this country? I firmly believe the answer to that is no. I've met people who are in it for the idea of making this nation a better place to live. I've met volunteers who work incredibly hard and sacrifice their time in hopes of having a chance to make their communities just an inkling better. This is democracy after all, we get to decide who runs the show. Your vote matters. Your voice matters, but most importantly, you matter. This by-election, won or loss, will change things - but not the big things. I cannot remove bad actors from the equation. I cannot stop extravagant fundraising dinners from happening that result in all the sign spam and endless "literature" you receive, carefully planned for and calculated by campaign managers of course. These things are here because, so far, they've proven effective. You will matter more to a candidate if your backyard faces a major arterial road, they will care more about you and not your neighbour across the street. Fortunately you can change that.
I believe deeply that this nation, our nation, can be better, but how? We start local. I will talk about dog parks, and garbage bins and bus stops because these are the things you encounter in your life. These are the neglected afterthoughts of administrations that fall asleep at the wheel to everyone but their "base" once elected. I saw people who voted for the wrong candidate or lived in the wrong neighbourhood who suffered as a result, that HAS to change. You often see candidates celebrate when they win an election, and I always wondered "why?" was this just some elaborate competition for you?. They call these elections "races", refer to campaign headquarters as "war rooms" have "hit piece literature" and smear other candidates. I've seen it from municipal to federal.
I'm here to say that I DO NOT want your money, and as a result I can't be bought. That makes me dangerous, it makes me unpredictable for large industries who see each councillor, not as a human, but 1/25th of a piece of the pie. It means I wont needlessly protest and stretch out debates for corporate interests. It means I wont change my views based on who contributed to my campaign apparatus. As a result I wont keep servers with your information on them. I don't want to track you (this happened in your ward). What I will do is try and make a small difference. I will try and make the roads a bit less bumpy, your apartment parking lots a bit more tidy. I will try and make sure that people who are new to this country are aware of things like the food bank so they don't go hungry in the night. I will try and make sure that small businesses have a shot and don't have to compete with massive multinational industries with profits in the billions. I want you to come home from work and sit down with your family without having to worry or talk about politics. I don't care for the money or donations, I care for you. I may win, I may lose, but I will go to sleep at night knowing I didn't sell my soul for someone else's greed, and that is what makes me different.
Thanks for reading,
A vote for Kevin Haynes is a vote for honesty. -Kevin Haynes