Municipal elections are over and Ontario set a new record for voter turnout – but not a good one.
Only 33 per cent of eligible voters in the province cast a ballot, according to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, compared to about 38 per cent in 2018 and just over 43 per cent in 2014.
But that’s not the only trend alarming some people.
The Anti Hate Network, along with trustees in London, Ont., raised concerns over the number “anti-woke” candidates running for school board trustee elections.
Many of these candidates who were backed by faith-based groups and conservative lobby groups, vowed to get rid of gender-neutral bathrooms and roll back protections for transgender students.
Vote Against Woke, a site registered just days before the election, sought to lead voters to the names of candidates who align themselves with “anti-woke” policies.
After its parent site, Blueprint for Canada, was scrubbed of its candidate list over fears of violating election laws, Vote Against Woke had its list similarly scrubbed.
Lyra Evans, Canada’s first transgender school board trustee, won her seat back in Ottawa after first being elected in 2018.
According to her, this rise in anti-trans and “anti-woke” movements isn’t new.
“We have seen a growing rise in anti-LGBTQ movements over the last couple years. But the rise in which this rise has happened has accelerated,” Evans said.
More losses than wins for “anti-woke” candidates
Durham Region saw one trustee re-elected, Linda Stone, who drew swift criticism and condemnation from teachers and community members earlier this year for sharing anti-trans rhetoric on Twitter and for speaking out against critical race theory.
Stone declined to comment on her tweets or platform.
PFLAG Durham, an advocacy group for the 2SLGBTQ+ community, has also been a critic of Stone. President Jake Farr says “the community needs to come together” and advocate against this trend.
Halton Region saw Emma Murphy win in Milton Ward 2 and 3. Murphy is quoted in Inside Halton saying “there should be less time spent on teaching the students political and social ideologies.”
In Oakville, Helena Karabela was re-elected to her seat. Karabela was endorsed by Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion and anti-2SLGBTQ+ lobby group.
Other notable losses for “anti-woke” candidates were in Thames Valley, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Trillium Lakelands
The president of the Ontario Public School Board Association, Cathy Abraham, says that while there was a rise in candidates running on “anti-woke” ideologies, ultimately, the majority of them lost.
“Well, they didn’t do very well this election. I mean, a number of them ran across Ontario, but for the most part, they didn’t do very well,” Abraham said.