How to choose your election candidates

Environmentalist Susan Koswan says what many of us think: Our most important vote on October 24 is a vote on the climate crisis.

“Every single politician has to look through the lens of climate change and decide,” says Koswan, a Kitchener-based columnist for the newspaper.

“That’s the most important. It has to be an integral part of all decisions.”

Municipalities have a major impact on the climate crisis, from how they manage public transport to the sustainability of new buildings. Koswan suggests that you select your elected officers as if you were hiring someone to work for you.

When I called her to discuss how a voter can sift through all of these dozens of candidates to make a good choice, Koswan was doing research for her own decision making.

That’s what it takes – research. Nobody can do it for you.

The time and energy we invest is the price we pay for living in a democracy.

You need to educate yourself on the issues that are important to you, reach out to multiple sources, and then decide which candidates align with your values ​​and take the work seriously.

A useful website is run by 50 by 2030 Waterloo Region, asking candidates if they would commit to the pledge of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and how they would concretely achieve that goal.

The answers are revealing – and so are the non-answers.

Some candidates obviously thought it through and made videos or wrote lengthy replies. Others have a very short sentence that doesn’t say much about what he or she would do if elected. Or they didn’t answer at all.

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Here is an example of the more detailed answers:

Kitchener Council Ward 10 candidate Aislinn Clancy wants to find a way for everyone, including those on low incomes, to heat their homes with heat pumps instead of a stove.

Gord Greavette, candidate for the Waterloo regional council, thinks we should seriously consider making public transport free for all to encourage people to use it.

Waterloo mayoral candidate Dorothy McCabe says she will use the mayor’s car allowance to buy a transit pass, an e-bike and a car-sharing membership — and that’s how she’ll get around as mayor. She will also advocate for a private tree statute to protect trees “as assets on all properties.”

Matt Rodrigues, candidate for regional council in Kitchener, said it was important to him to invest in public transport and stick to the landline. Keeping the rural boundary means not allowing the city to grow onto surrounding farmland, but rather containing growth within existing boundaries.

There are other good sides. The Grand River Environmental Network at asks some similar questions—and again, the answers (and non-answers) tell you what you need to know.

The same goes for Waterloo Region Votes at, a non-partisan organization that provides a great one-stop shop for candidate websites, answers to questionnaires from various groups, and recordings of candidate debates, among other things.

Happy hunting!

Update of the bike lanes: I received many responses to Wednesday’s column from readers asking why there weren’t more cyclists on the new downtown Kitchener bike lanes.

I thought you’d appreciate the funniest response I’ve gotten from Dan Brown, a dog owner who lives downtown.

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“I’ve mistakenly seen more cars on the Ontario Street bike lane than I’ve seen bikes in,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “For example, I walk the section of Ontario Street in front of Dogtopia and the Grand Trunk Saloon all the time and I haven’t seen a cyclist yet, but I do see a confused driver several times a week.”

Luisa D’Amato is a columnist for The Record in the Waterloo area. Reach them via email: [email protected]

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