Democracy is Failing in the West

by Kiri Vadivelu | 7 min. read democracy

Because, politics is a manipulation game, status quo candidates only reveal what they want voters to know in order to get elected; not to serve the needs of the people

People agree that democracy is failing is the west without any reservations. But, the reasoning of why decimate the debate even before the start. If one was to ask, do you know your city councillor in your ward or member of parliament? Most voters would respond yes but in reality, voters barely know the candidate name.

Toronto City Council
Toronto City Council, 2021 | © Kiri Vadivelu

It is not the fault of the voters but the status quo system that elegantly tricks the masses through selective bias. Because, politics is a manipulation game, status quo candidates only reveal what they want voters to know in order to get elected; not to serve the needs of the people. Media is just another corporations seek to preserve the status quo that continue to exploit people.

Let us review some Toronto city council candidates who are ignored the mainstream media to preserve the status quo. These are candidates from grass-root movements across Toronto that barely known to the public.

These candidates are not endorsed or backed by any corporations except people's movement such as Municipal Socialist Alliance (MSA). These candidates are visually hidden from public in order to support the status quo candidates.

Danny Drew, Mayor of Guelph

Danny Drew is a non-binary activist running to be mayor of Guelph. Born and raised in Oshawa, they moved to attend the University of Guelph in 2009, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Danny worked in a wide range of jobs, always encouraging co-workers to exercise their rights and push for unionization. Currently seeking to win rights for thousands of workers via reclassification, they’ve supported many striking workers on picket lines.

Danny is a steadfast ally of ongoing social justice movements – such as Indigenous Land Back and Black Lives Matter – actively resisting the rising tide of fascism.Their main focus has always been poverty relief; offering labour, organizing capabilities, and vast quantities of recovered supplies for those in need. At the onset of the COVID pandemic Danny co-developed a renter’s union as well as helped to operate a Food Not Bombs project.

In the municipal arena, Danny pledges to fight tooth-and-nail for every possible concession from Capital and its state. That includes a high-powered harm reduction strategy involving: reformed social housing systems and relations, expanded and improved public transit, increased funding for mental health and drug user support programs, worker co-op and community land trust formation and expansion, and a drastically altered and reduced police force.

Danny, as part of the Municipal Socialist Alliance, commits to expose the propaganda that keeps the bourgeoisie in power and the majority oppressed. In other words, a campaign for a Workers’ Government to increase class consciousness, and spur unionization, mutual aid, and local self-organization to enable working people to improve their lives.

Sarah Szymanski, Mississauga Ward 3

Sarah Szymanski is a student and worker running in Mississauga Ward 3. She is a proud member of UNIFOR Local 1285 and CUPE Local 3906. Sarah works as a part-time autoworker and as a teacher's assistant, holding the position of Recording Secretary since January 2022 in the CUPE Local. Sarah has a B.A. in Global Studies and Sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Master's of Sociology from McMaster University. She is passionate about social research, particularly in the field of gender, sexuality and work, and is devoted to the labour movement and workers’ rights.

She has been involved in Toronto's Labour May Day Committee for the past two years, and was co-chair at its May 1, 2022 rally. Sarah Szymanski demonstrated her commitment to working class solidarity at picket lines and rallies, such as in support of locked-out workers at the Molson Brewery (CUBGW Local 325) and in aid of the people of Palestine and Cuba. Sarah will be a powerful voice for women, workers and socialist policies on Mississauga city council.

Mark Freeland, Mississauga Ward 7

Mark Freeland is a unionized construction worker, running for city council in Ward 7 Mississauga. As a worker, Mark recognizes the need for solidarity — twice Mark helped unionize his workplace, including IATSE local 58 and LIUNA 183. He strives to end municipal politics being dominated by careerist politicians who shove money into developers’ pockets while social justice issues are ignored. Workers need a real voice in municipal politics.

To know why a Workers’ Agenda at City Hall is needed just look at Patrick Brown, Dipika Damerla and Doug Ford. Mark Freeland says that the fight for free mass transit, accessible and supportive housing for all who need it, to preserve crucial farmland, to end racist policing, and to tax giant corporations and the rich requires a mass social movement.

Miguel Avila, Toronto Centre Ward 13

Miguel Avila is an Indigenous man who lives in Toronto Centre Ward 13 -- an activist advocating for his community at City Hall and on the streets since 2010. Miguel stands for social and environmental justice, with an emphasis on housing, food security, police accountability and animal rights issues. He ran in 2014 when Toronto had 44 Council seats and obtained close to 800 votes. He has three children: Michelle, Meliss and Michael. Currently, there is no Indigenous representation on council. Miguel Avila will be a strong voice for diversity and for fundamental change on city council.

Adam Golding, Toronto Ward 11

Adam Golding was born in Toronto, raised in Barrie, Ontario and has lived in University-Rosedale for 20 years where he is currently the MSA candidate in Ward 11. Adam teaches piano from his home in Kensington Market -- you may have seen the posters for "Anarchist Piano Lessons". At U of Toronto, he studied Philosophy, Mathematics, Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Psychology and Computer Science, and got heavily involved in student politics.

Adam focused on municipal politics when Mayor John Tory sued Khaleel Seivwright for erecting tiny shelters to save lives amid a state of emergency that Tory himself declared. He witnessed mass evictions and police violence at encampments last summer, where he was physically harmed and arrested along with dozens of others. That’s when TorCH: The Toronto Coalition for Housing, was formed. Following these events, Adam Golding worked on voter ID and fundraising for NDP campaigns, and joined the Socialist Alliance launched by leftists who are fed up with the status-quo AND fed up with the status-quo opposition to the status-quo.

Kiri Vadivelu, Scarborough Centre Ward 21

Kiri Vadivelu is a social justice activist running with the MSA for the seat in Scarborough Centre Ward 21. Kiri, who immigrated from Sri Lanka as a child, successfully resisted illegal eviction of his family at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board during the 2020 emergency lock down. He passionately strives to make housing a human right in Ontario.

A founding member of the Scarborough Tenants’ Union, Kiri is a leading voice of Toronto ACORN and a committed member of Justice for Workers. He was a shop steward of the United Steelworkers Union where he fought for better working conditions, and was recipient of a 2019 leadership award from USW headquarters in Pittsburgh, USA. Kiri Vadivelu acquired a Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Criminology, Justice and Policy Studies at the University of Ontario in 2010.

Wali Abro, Toronto Danforth Ward 14

Wali became a Canadian citizen last winter, having immigrated from Pakistan nearly 10 years ago. He subscribed to the clichéd image of Canada: that it was fair, compassionate, and built in partnership with the Indigenous peoples. That image was quickly shattered.

Now, he's fighting for the Canada that was promised. Wali has long been an advocate for electoral reform, holistic social supports, and de-colonization. He is an active community volunteer, keeps close to the grassroots, and is a passionate activist for Indigenous rights from Turtle Island to Palestine.

He is taking his fight forward by running, as part of the Municipal Socialist Alliance team, to be Councillor for Ward 14 - Toronto-Danforth on a platform that features immediate housing for people experiencing homelessness or precarious housing; improved public safety by significantly de-funding the police and investing in community well-being; and rebuilding Toronto's infrastructure with climate change and population growth in mind.

Corey David, Scarborough Southwest Ward 20

Corey David, a resident of Scarborough Southwest for decades, is the MSA candidate in Ward 20. Corey was the Socialist Action candidate in the January 2021 Scarborough Agincourt by-election. He championed social housing, quality public long-term care and health care, workers’ power and police abolition. Corey has worked as a machinist for 7 years.

Before that he supported individuals with developmental disabilities working as front-line staff at Community Living Toronto and the Toronto District School Board. In 2020 Corey David campaigned to stop the for-profit housing development at the Quarry Lands, which destroyed the natural habitat and park space — another reason radical change is needed at City Hall.

Sandra Griffith-Bonaparte, Ottawa school Trustee

Sandra Griffith-Bonaparte emigrated in 1988 to Canada from Grenada in the south-east Caribbean. For 16 years she has been President of Local 70607 of the Union of National Defense Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Sandra, a member of Socialist Action, was the Workers’ Action Movement candidate for Second Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress in June 2021. Based on a life-time commitment to high quality public education, with special attention to the needs of racialized students, teachers and staff, Sandra is now running as an MSA candidate for school trustee in Ottawa.

Daniel Tarade, Parkdale-High Park Ward 7

Daniel Tarade immigrated to Canada as a child refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Inspired by the story of the discovery of insulin, and prompted by his brother’s experience with type 1 diabetes, he committed himself to changing the world for the better as a scientist. Daniel obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology in 2021. When he saw that science alone cannot resolve the systemic issues plaguing society, Daniel set out to organize in the streets and in the workplace against exploitation and oppression in all forms.

Daniel is a proud union steward in CUPE Local 3902 and ran for Secretary-Treasurer at the 2021 Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) convention as a candidate of the Workers' Action Movement. Today, Daniel lectures at both the University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University in the Life Sciences, is a member of Socialist Action, and is running for Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee in Parkdale-High Park (Ward 7).

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