What makes suburban voters tick?

Living in the suburbs affects how voters feel about elections, it seems.

Experts in voting habits gathered Oct. 3 at the University of Toronto Scarborough to discuss trends in the suburban GTA.

Trish Hennessy, director of strategic issues for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said she found a distinct suburban perspective through two years of research with focus groups.

“[The focus groups] talked about a livable city — the TTC came up as a symbol of that — and how roads are managed,” she said. “Some people brought up focusing on the younger generation … I tended to hear this more from people in Scarborough, Etobicoke and those areas.”

Income, education and interests affect a person’s voting behaviour, Ryerson University professor Grace Galabuzi said.

When asked by an audience member about the importance of the ethnic vote, Galabuzi answered, “Just ask Jason Kenney if it’s important or not.” Kenney, the federal citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister, was at a Scarborough mosque recently to campaign for local provincial PC candidates ahead of the Oct. 6 election.

Writer Dave Meslin discusses why he thinks elections should be held on weekends.

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Writer Dave Meslin said the habit of not voting at all is a large problem and it has to do with what day elections are held.

“If you want to get more low income people, one easy trick is to shift elections to the weekends,” he said. “Municipal voting in Vancouver is on Saturday, in Montreal it’s on Sunday.

“If you have a full-time job and two or three kids and you can’t afford a babysitter, when the hell are you voting?”

Others in attendance were Social Planning Toronto’s Israt Ahmed and U of T professor Alan Walks. Journalist and community organizer Jane Farrow led the discussion.

The event, called Cities Grow Ontario: What influences voters in the inner suburbs, was sponsored by U of T, Social Planning Toronto and the Scarborough Civic Action Network.