“I have always been interested in [human rights and politics],” 19-year-old mayoral hopeful Morgan Baskin explains over the phone in between the emails and interviews that have become a part of her daily life. “My mom works in social justice so I grew up in that world. I was on the cover of The Toronto Star at 2 years old attending a protest.”
The youngest candidate vying to become Toronto’s new mayor on October 27 may be fresh out of high school but she’s armed with brilliant ideas and a mission. “We need to support young people,” she reiterates, a concept that she believes City Hall needs to realize. “[Youth issues should] matter if we want young people to continue to live in Toronto.”
In this week’s Get To Know, Morgan Baskin talks about her ideas for a shareable city, her favourite local spots and what she’s learned during her eight-month campaign.
She wants to create a “kitchen library”.
With the rise of the shareable city, services like car share programs allow citizens access to items they can’t afford or don’t need to own. Part of that shareable city includes a kitchen library, where members can borrow items to cook and bake.
“Millenials are the first generation that won’t be as well off as their parents. Ownership will occur less,” she says. “Because we can’t own as many things, we need to encourage the shareable city and regulate it to ensure its longevity.”
The motivation for the library partially comes from a fatigue with consumerism. “You don’t always need a KitchenAid mixer,” Baskin explains. “But if you need one for baking grandma 100 cupcakes for her 100th birthday, you can borrow a KitchenAid mixer for a day.” The goal is be to benefit the community, create jobs and reduce living costs for the individual as real estate prices increase and living spaces shrink in size.
The Market Gallery is one of her favourite spots in Toronto.
A small museum filled with pieces of Toronto’s early history sits on the top floor of the St. Lawrence Market south building, one of Baskin’s regular haunts. Situated in the old council chambers, Baskin regularly visits when she stops into the market for an eggplant sandwich. “It’s this amazing, tiny museum that is underused but is so good,” the mayoral hopefully says. “There’s information about Toronto’s old neighbourhoods and the history of local politics, which I really appreciate.”
Other places you are likely to spot the 19-year-old? Baskin lists Sneaky Dee’s, Kensington Market, Clafouti, The Bata Shoe Museum, Trinity Bellwoods and Jumbo Empanada as possible contenders.
Teenagers from around the world seek her advice.
“I have an email to reply to from a young man in New Zealand,” Baskin says, explaining that since her campaign began, youth worldwide have been reaching out to her for advice and inspiration. “It’s probably one of the weirdest things that has happened.” Emails come in from everywhere, congratulating her on having the courage to run and letting Baskin know that because of her, they’ve decided to become active in their own political circles. “Millenials get a lot of bad press so when [someone is earning us good press], we appreciate it.”
She’s out to prove young people care about politics.
“Youth are further ahead in human rights conversations than previous generations,” Baskin states. “Older generations have similar political views but young people’s attitudes are just like, well, that is the obvious answer, so why not just do something about it?” This eagerness is exactly what motivated Baskin to run for mayor in the first place. “When you’re allowed office, you’re given a different ability to solve problems that you care about. It would allow me not only to change things if elected but start the conversation even if I’m not.”
The conversation she wants to start surrounds issues plaguing youth, particularly unemployment. “The gap between a 20-something with a business degree and a 20-something artist has closed significantly as there are fewer and fewer jobs,” she says to emphasize how the job landscape in Toronto has changed. “We have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in North America. We have youth with debt and unused degrees so we need jobs that are the beginnings of careers.”
She never thought she’d be debating Doug Ford and John Tory.
Baskin has learned a great deal during her campaign, both about the political process and herself. “I’ve learned that I’m capable of a lot more than I imagined, a lot out of sheer necessity,” she says. “A year ago, I never would’ve imagined I’d be discussing ties with Doug Ford, John Tory and Ari Goldkind before a debate. It never occurred to me that I’d be able to make pointed comments during a debate about music festivals.”