Participants in Harbord Village political speed dating find common ground

The Green Line gathered a group of people with differing political beliefs to talk about the upcoming municipal election. Anita Li has more.

By Antia Li, The Green Line

What do you get when you pair up a bunch of strangers and make them sit across from each other to discuss their political differences? The Green Line was looking to find out.

In partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation Annex in Harbord Village, they hosted an election event that paired people with opposing political beliefs for constructive conversation. Local city council candidates for Ward 11, University-Rosedale, also showed up to speak to voters.

Instead of pandemonium and chaos expected, people were spotted talking peacefully about politics.

To match up Torontonians, the event used My Country Talks, an app that connects people around the world and gives them space to discuss the issues that divide and unite them.

Think speed dating but for political beliefs.

“It’s been incredible … I get to talk to somebody who’s less than half my age and from a small town in Alberta. I have not had the chance to speak to someone from a small town in Alberta and they’ve really changed a lot of perceptions I had of a small town, stereotypical Alberta town,” said participant Randy Terada.

Community members also came together to brainstorm solutions to address the ongoing decline in youth voter turnout. Federally, only 66 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 cast their ballot in the 2021 federal election — a decline from 2015.

For Toronto’s last municipal election in 2018, overall voter turnout was 41 per cent — another sharp decline from 2014.


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The pairs were given difficult topics to discuss like: “Should handguns be banned in Toronto?” or “Should permanent residents without citizenship be eligible to vote?”

Despite being paired with “opposites,” people seemed to have more in common than not.

“Because we had that common foundation, we were able to talk about the complexity of policy and how to implement stuff rather than having these dramatic explosive disagreements, we were able to really talk about why we thought about certain things and the way we came to those conclusions,” explained another participant, Alex Treadaway.

The muncipal election will take place on October 24. For more on how to vote and information about candidates, click here.


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