As Toronto’s mayoral race enters its final, frenzied stages, it becomes nearly impossible to keep track of all the candidates and their antics. Here for you: a handy weekly summary.
Illustration by Brett Lamb/Torontoist.
Despite front-page rumours and calls for anyone with weak polling numbers to drop out, as of this writing, the five leading mayoral candidates are hanging in the race. George Smitherman is being positioned as the anti–Rob Ford figure for other candidates to coalesce around, but will anyone follow? The growing spectre of the Grim Reaper stalking several campaigns has lead to loopier, more attention-grabbing policies and advertising campaigns. With the week’s major polls indicating that at least a third of Toronto voters still can’t make up their mind, expect the hallucinatory experience this race has been so far to continue.
Ford’s rising popularity and the strong lead he showed in the Nanos poll as the week began left media outlets scrambling to figure out how somebody they loved painting as a buffoon has become, among decided voters, the leader of the pack. The Sun has settled into being his cheerleader, which reduces the odds of Ford sending out angry emails to his supporters about its coverage. Other city papers are breaking out their crystal balls to predict who will be the power brokers in a Ford administration and who will be in the opposition.
The endless series of mayoral debates (including the one we live-blogged) carries on, and fatigue may be starting to show as candidates become more selective about which gatherings merit their presence, or at least those where the audience will include some supporters. Case in point: the Toronto Environmental Alliance debate on September 23, where Ford made a pit stop before heading to a police retirement party, while Rossi didn’t appear at all. They missed a debate that moved beyond talking points and provided a juicy quote from Joe Pantalone.
In a Globe and Mail article about local Red Tories perplexed as to why centre-right candidates aren’t leading in the polls, writer John McGrath notes that Ford has broken through the “high walls of the Liberal fortress” like “an angry pitcher of Kool Aid.” Come to think of it, Ford has turned as red as the walking sugary beverage on occasion…
Invitees Included the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Doormouse
In the wake of the Nanos poll Monday morning, conservative gadfly Ezra Levant declared Ford’s commanding lead to be “Toronto’s Tea Party!” Allusions to politics south of the border were carried on with the revelation of Ford’s red, white, and blue lawn signs.
Making Voters an Offer They Can Refuse
Speaking of signage, Rocco Rossi’s campaign unveiled its latest ad campaign, which plays upon the candidate’s Italian heritage to show him as the Don the city needs…and we’re not talking the river. The image of a “goodfella” staring out above a darkened city did not impress some members of the Italian community, as, even if Rossi meant the ads to be playful, the images do reinforce certain stereotypes. The campaign could have been different: “I was going to use ‘It doesn’t take great hair to be a great mayor,’ but then George Smitherman came into the race and I thought he would steal it,” Rossi told the Sun.
Let Bygones Be Bygones
Remember Giorgio Mammoliti? The all-over-the-political map councillor (Ward 7, York West) who filed a human rights complaint after Ford allegedly hurled a derogatory term for Italians at him during a council session? That incident appears to be water under the bridge as the former mayoral candidate announced his support for Ford on Wednesday. Mammoliti has inspired other reconciliations among former political enemies—rumour has it that Sir Francis Bond Head is now backing Rebelmayor’s campaign.
When asked by the Star on Tuesday which mayors she admired, Thomson listed three she felt had “accomplished change.” Her idols are David Crombie (“brought youth and a fresh approach”), Michael Bloomberg (“brought in visionary city planning”), and Rudolph Giuliani (“cleaned up crime, homeless issue”).
Arts and Transit
This week’s report card assessment of municipal candidates was issued by ArtsVote. Less than half of those registered to run filled out the form. Downtown incumbents received higher grades than their suburban counterparts, fuelling the arguments of those looking for wedges between the core and outlying areas. Recommended for remedial class was Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt), who received an F (“actively working against the arts”).
The right flank of council would likely receive failing grades if the Public Transit Coalition issued grades. The umbrella grouping of transit advocates and union members launched a media campaign on Monday to oppose the privatization of the TTC as proposed by four of the five mayoral frontrunners.
I Was Told There Would Be No Math
One of the areas of the campaign that has shown a high degree of creativity is number-crunching. The most extreme case of number rounding emerged from the Ford camp, which claimed the cost of adding bike lanes to Jarvis Street left taxpayers $6 million poorer. The city’s price tag on the project? $59,000.
Stay tuned for next week’s chronicle of all the candidates’ capers!
And don’t forget: for more municipal election coverage from Torontoist, head on over here.