Go ahead and pat yourself and the back because we’ve just achieved a milestone in political traction. On August 11th CARP hosted the first of the CARP Debate™ series at Ryerson University, where we rounded up the top five contenders in Toronto’s mayoralty race. The event was a great success – not only did we receive unprecedented saturation media coverage (click here to see a sampling) but four of the five candidates also signed the CARP Age Friendly Cities pledge. Click here to see the pledge. It commits them to ensuring Toronto follows our five point plan for all cities. CARP members should be asking all candidates to commit to – measures that will make the streets safe for pedestrians of all ages and help people stay at home as long as they want to and stay fully engaged in the social, economic and civic life of our cities.
Other Canadians cities will be hosting CARP debates; up next will be Barrie. You can use this pledge in your city; candidates are always looking for the “doorstep question” – the question everyone asks when they go door to door. One way to ensure that your issues are heard is to prepare your questions so you’ll be ready when the politicians come a’ knocking.
It’s important that we realize what an opportunity we have during election time. This is the time we are most powerful: the bargaining chip we all hold – our vote – holds the most value during election season. It is also a great equalizer in that it holds the same value in our hands as it does in the hands of the slickest political operative or the wealthiest CEO.
Our goal is the make the CARP Debate™ a major campaign stop in any election. In exchange for addressing the issues that matter to older Canadians, candidates will get to make their pitch to an audience of politically engaged and savvy voters. We know that 70% of the over 65 vote regularly and that the numbers are even more dramatic when voters 45 to 64 are added. We constitute a very powerful voting bloc – provided we use our vote wisely by holding politicians to account and extracting real answers and concrete commitments from them during election time. This will make the difference between hollow gestures and political influence.
As you can see from this video of the debate moderator Susan Eng, CARP VP of Advocacy kept them on-point and did not allow evasive measures. In fact, the candidate who came most prepared scored major points on his opponent by calling him out on a vote to eliminate snow-plowing services from the city budget (without this service senior home owners would face a much greater burden and mobility would be greatly decreased during the winter.) Not only are we watching, but politicians now know that we are to be taken seriously and that we will not tolerate double-talk.