Many of you have met Toronto’s current Mayor (with no powers as he was stripped of them): mayor Rob Ford. While I live just beyond the lines of Toronto and he is not my mayor (I am a five minute drive just north of Toronto) I do feel that he represents my city to the rest of Canada and the world.

I don’t want to digress into a discussion about Rob Ford as Jimmy Kimmel and SNL have already done a good job at that.

What I want to focus on is the upcoming mayoral race. Two weeks ago Ms. Morgan Baskin submitted her paperwork to run for mayor. She used her baby sitting money to pay the $200 fee to enter.

Ms. Baskin is only 18 years of age, the youngest registered candidate in the race. There is some fierce competition facing Rob Ford already: former Ontario PC leader John Tory, former TTC chair Karen Stintz and former city councillor David Soknacki. This does not include Olivia Chow who is expected to announce her campaign in March.

Ms. Baskin draws her inspiration from believe it or not… Rob Ford. She began considering her run two years ago thanks to Mr. Ford’s unconventional leadership. He put the thought into her mind however she is not running because of Rob Ford.

Ms. Baskin said her age and lack of experience shouldn’t be detriments to her campaign. She thinks they might even be assets. In an interview she says, “We’ve already got political experience in city hall, in the admin staff and in people who will be re-elected to council.. It’s already there, and I think adding a different voice and a fresh voice could only be a good thing.”

Ms. Baskin’s platform is focused on addressing the city’s urban/suburban divide, one that’s been highlighted by Mr. Ford and the ‘divisive’ politics in city hall. She feels that this needs to be addressed before other things can be moved on to. She wants a conversation to ensue; that those in city hall need to understand one another.

Are we talking about collaboration? Can our politicians put aside their egos long enough to really hear what others are saying? OR is it the fight to be right and win.

I applaud Ms. Baskin for stepping into a lion’s den. Her inexperience is likely her greatest gift as she doesn’t have limited beliefs.

What she will need to do is ‘pull up her socks’ (so to speak) and this goes for ALL YOUTH WHO WANT CHANGE. It is one thing to want change it is another to have some idea or plan that is executable and sustainable. Currently Ms. Baskin is vague on the specifics on how the divisive nature of city politics can be addressed, as well as the policy platforms she spells out in her website. It is basic but maybe that’s not all bad. With guidance and direction she can begin to give more substance to her platform ideas. It will be worth her while to determine what is working already and draw support for that and then look at what is not currently working and from that recommend change. I believe in frameworks that can respond to change as we are living in a dynamic world. It has to make sense and be executable.

With a good team who knows what feathers she can ruffle. This may be the beginning to really hearing out youths’ voices. I applaud her courage and determination to bring change.

Whether she is successful or not in the race to me she is already a winner because she is willing to stand up and challenge what currently exists and bring potentially a different way of looking at things.

I am curious to see how this process shapes her. I do hope that she maintains her integrity and desire to bring change and doesn’t succumb to the comments, criticism, questions or even support from the older (not necessarily wiser) candidates to change her outlook and conform.

Let the race begin…

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