On January 23rd, we get to decide who's allowed to sit in these nice cushy seats.

TO the Polls: Election Day Eve

A weekly election crib-note

With the Liberals wallowing somewhere between corruption and incompetence, it is clear that they need, at the very least, a time-out from governance. While clearly the best possible government would be formed nearly entirely out of blogTO writers, sadly there arn't 308 of us, and none of us are running this time around.

With that in mind, in the great tradition of media editorials everywhere, I'm throwing my weight behind a Tory minority goverment (which really isn't all that daring - you know it's time for a change when even the Eye is suggesting the same) with a Green (or more realistically NDP) balance of power. This will serve to moderate the Conservatives' non-existing 'hidden agenda', help out the poorest amongst us, and hopefully bring some sanity to government (as well as democratic reform). The Tories this election have proven themselves to be right-of-centre moderates with a good vision for protecting Canadian sovereignty and correcting the fiscal imbalance that Paul Martin forced on the provinces, sending nearly all of them deep into debt.

Of course, elections don't involve voting for the national party, but rather individual ridings. As such, you'll find below my picks for Toronto's 22 (and a half) ridings. Candidates were picked for both ability and electability. In most cases you'll find the best winnable choice, although it others, I found that candidate quality or other factors had to come before strategic voting.

Beaches-East York: Jim Harris, Green Party
The Green Party under Jim Harris has undergone a renaissance in the past few years. Gone are the days of it being a single-issue fringe party; it has become a party with a full fledged platform, and a responsible vision for Canada. The Greens deserve some seats in the House of Commons, and Harris deserves to be there to lead them.

Davenport: Gord Perks, NDP
I've not been a fan of the way that Gord Perks has campaigned - keeping his Eye column giving him in effect free ad space, and colouring some of his signs green to confuse potential Green Party voters - but he's an intelligent, articulate voice on the environment and social issues, regardless of if you agree or disagree with him.

Don Valley East: Eugene McDermott, Conservative Party
First-time MP Yasmin Ratansi has been nearly invisible for the last 18 months, and it's doubtful that the situation will improve while in opposition. It's unlikely that anybody will be able to unseat her, but the Tories stand the best chance of this feat. It's time for strategic voting in DVE.

Don Valley West: John Godfrey, Liberal Party
As Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities, Godfrey was one of the few Toronto-area Liberals to actually advocate for Toronto, even if the New Deal for Cities got hopelessly watered down. He deserves a chance to show what he can do in Opposition, possibly with a more weighty portfolio.

Eglinton-Lawrence: Peter Coy, Conservative Party
Joe Volpe has been absolutely attrocious as a Cabinet Minister, bungling his immigration portfolio and making stupid comments likening the Tories to the KKK. Peter Coy, a software designer and noted supporter of the arts is a longshot, but is doubtlessly the best choice to represent this mid-town riding.

Etobicoke Centre: Axel Kuhn, Conservative Party
As a digital tech guru who is also involved in the health care field, Axel Kuhn, should he win would be a lock for a position in a Tory cabinet, something Toronto desperately needs. Liberal Wrzesnewskyj has shown himself to be no more than mediocre as an MP, and has even lost Miller's endorsement that he brandished in the last election.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore: John Capobianco, Conservative Party
I wish I could support leading Grit light Michael Ignatieff, I really do - he's intelligent, educated, and knowledgeable on the issues, but... Ignatieff's parachuting into the riding was an affont to local democracy, and his views on 'creative interogation' have never properly been cleared up. Tory Capobianco is a long-time Progressive Conservative, and will add much desperately needed experience to the incoming government's cabinet.

Etobicoke North: Roy Cullen, Liberal Party
Cullen has lived, worked, and studied all across Canada (with the exception of the Maritimes) and knows it well. Although he has been out of Cabinet since the Martin take-over, he remains a quality candidate, and one of the few Toronto area Grits deserving of support.

Parkdale-High Park Peggy Nash, NDP
Peggy Nash narrowly lost P-HP 18 months ago, and Canada is the worse off for it - partially because her union experience would be a valuable asset in the House of Commons, but mostly because it would have prevented Sam Bulte from stomping all over common sense in the 38th Parliament. Bulte, a strong proponant of making it more difficult for you to download music has her hands in the pockets of too many entertainment industry insiders to pass the smell test.

Scarborough-Agincourt: Casey Maple, Green Party
Jim Karygiannis has spent most of the last 17 years as an MP being invisible in the House of Commons, but working on his riding machinery to make it the well oiled vote-getter that it currently is. He wll unquestionably win in a land-slide tomorrow. Given this, a vote for the Green Party's Casey Maple would be well advised, giving the Greens more ammunition for their argument to be included in the debates two years hence.

Scarborough Centre: Dorothy Laxton, NDP
John Cannis, a Liberal MP who argued vociferously against Canada protecting Canadian citizens (or even letting them stay in the country) when their last name happens to be Khadr does not deserve to represent our country at all. His most likely upsurper, Roxanne James is too socially regressive for a Toronto riding. Dorothy Laxton is the only viable choice in this riding, although it's doubtful she'll be able to take home the prize.

Scarborough-Guildwood Pauline Browes, Conservative Party
Last election saw the resurrection of NDP elder-statesman Ed Broadbent. This time around the role of returning parliamentarian will be filled by ex-Mulroney Cabinet Minister Pauline Browes. She was effective back in the 80s, and there's no doubt she will add a presence to the Commons that few other candidates can provide. Plus with John McKay's policies often seeming more Toryish than Gritish, why not have somebody sitting on the government side representing you?

Scarborough-Rouge River: Jerry Bance, Conservative Party
If last election's independant candidate Raymond Cho's votes swing Tory this election, moderate Jerry Bance stands a long-shot at picking up S-RR, and bringing some vital ethnic representation to Toronto's caucus. If they don't, Derek Lee stands to coast to another easy victory, to sit on the back bench as he's done since the riding was created.

Scarborough Southwest: Dan Harris, NDP
With a much less politically attractive candidate running for the Tories this election over last, third-time candidate Dan Harris won't need to worry about a vote split this time around. It's been a tough race, but he's in the best position he's ever been in to replace Christian-conservative Grit Tom Wappel.

St. Paul's: Peter Kent, Conservative Party
Newscaster Peter Kent (who unlike Gord Perks, refused to use his connections in the newsmedia to benefit his campaign) would bring to the 39th Parliament what the 38th (and 37th) was sorely lacking: integrity. Somebody who thinks first and speaks later, and lets everybody know where he stands, Kent has earned a chance to give up the power he had as an anchor and sit instead in a more comfy chair.

Toronto Centre: Michael Shapcott, NDP
Toronto Centre, containing some of Canada's richest, poorest, and gayest neighbourhoods is always an interesting one to watch. While Liberal Bill Graham, who allowed Canadian troops to fight in the current Iraq war will likely cruise to a victory, it amazes me that somebody can claim to represent a community to which they are ashamed to belong. It is perenial challenger MIchael Shapcott's turn to show Torontonians what he can do for Canada's most diverse riding. Bonus points go to Green Party's Chris Tindal, for actual suggesting (politically suicidal) ideas to end gun violence in this riding.

Toronto-Danforth: Jack Layton, NDP
What more needs to be said? Jack Layton took a fourth-place party in the House of Commons and made them into an effective force for change, helping to author a federal budget. If any of the 308 MPs deserve re-election, Layton is first on the list.

Trinity-Spadina: Thom Chapman, Green Party
When the only winnable candidates in the riding are an MP who has been absent more frequently than remotely acceptable, and a challenger with an utter lack of dedication to her constituents at City Council, it's time to vote for the future. Every vote for the Green Party gives them an extra $1.75 to fund their next election campaign. More importantly, if they can push their national vote total over the one million mark, they'll have a solid argument for inclusion in the 40th elections Leadership Debates.

Willowdale: Jovan Boseovski, Conservative Party
In the interests of disclosure, I should reveal that I was a minor volunteer on Jovan's 2004 Willowdale camapaign. What caused me to get involved then was what is making me support him this time around - he's young, articulate, intellgent, moderate, and passionate. Jim Peterson has been a great MP, but it's time for a change in this uptown riding.

York Centre: Ken Dryden, Liberal Party
Dryden has been an above average member of government, and has earned the right to become an above average member of the opposition. Sure he used to be a Montreal Canadien, but I'm sure we can just chalk that down to a 'youthful indiscretion'.

York South-Weston: Alan Tonks, Liberal Party
There are few people who know Toronto as well as former Metro Chair Alan Tonks. With roots in the riding going back a mile deep, he's a shoo-in for the seat, and deserves it as well.

York West: Sandra Romano Anthony, NDP
Judy Sgro is going to have a tough time in York West without the legions of Romanian strippers working on her campaign team this time around. All the better for teacher Romano Anthony who brings a wealth of community involvement behind her, and would no doubt prove a very active MP.

Pickering-Scarborough East Tim Dobson, Conservative Party
With Dan McTeague supporting censorship in a call to ban 50-cent, and attacking Canadian companies for the prices they charge the US, one has to wonder exactly what on earth this Parliamentary Secretary is thinking. Tim Dobson, on the other hand is an active community volunteer who has worked to reduce power-plant pollution. This choice should be easy.

So that's that. Agree, disagree, discuss, whatever. Most importantly: vote!

Tomorrow I'll be at the KoolHaus, covering the election results from the NDP campaign wrap party.

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