Campaign Chronicle: The End is Near
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Campaign Chronicle: The End is Near

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.

Welcome to the last full week of the Toronto’s long, long race for mayor. As election day approaches focus has shifted away from the candidates and toward the actual vote. Should you vote with your heart, or with your head? A record number of voters have turned out to advance polls, and heck, even this six-year-old girl is going to cast her ballot. With that in mind, buckle up for a summary of this week’s bumpy ride on the campaign trail.

That Other Election
Do you know who’s running for school trustee in your ward? Because you might want to look into it.
The Gravy Train Is Off the Rails
Rob Ford’s gravy train metaphor is charging full steam ahead. Ford and his brother Doug released thirty dollar gravy-themed t-shirts showing a pig driving a train. This pig is surrounded by dollar bills and wearing a “Miller Express” button. Ford also accused Smitherman this week of being the “chief conductor of the gravy train” and of supporting a “gravy plane.”
Meanwhile, Ford continues to fudge the numbers, this time claiming that downtown wards have received fifty million dollars in annual city grants. By the Star‘s most generous calculation, these grants actually amounted to half that, at twenty-six million.
Would You Like An Endorsement With That?
Major newspapers published their editorial endorsements this week. The Globe asked readers to “guardedly opt” for Smitherman; called Ford “an instinctual person, lacking in analysis”; and mentioned Pantalone only in passing. The Star unsurprisingly supported Smitherman, calling him “a progressive thinker,” while calling Ford “a one-trick pony” and Pantalone “a decent man.” The Sun predictably endorsed Ford in an editorial that used the word “tax” thirteen times. And the Post is backing Ford as well, contending that “Toronto very much needs a proverbial bull in the china shop.”
A few big names also came forward this week with their endorsements. Smitherman picked up former Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris and former mayor David Crombie. He also received union support from the Central Ontario Building Trades, while CUPE sided with Pantalone. Ford gained councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) and John Capobianco (former Rossi campaign co-chair). Meanwhile, Pantalone has become a celebrity cause with endorsements from Stephen Lewis and Sarah Polley.
The Calgary Comparison
Calgary held its municipal elections this week, and elected Naheed Nenshi, a progressive, Harvard-educated (and as everyone points out, Muslim) man as its next mayor. We are supposed to feel ashamed of our candidates by comparison. Maybe it’s time to stop wallowing in our shallow pool of candidates and start thinking of the best way forward.
In Memoriam…
Have you visited Rocco Rossi’s website lately? Or his campaign office? It’s almost touching. Let us all take a moment to remember Rocco and his odd but charming contributions to the campaign trail.
Federal Politics Make a Cameo
In case you doubted his conservatism, Ford isn’t in favour of the long-gun registry.
Meanwhile, Star columnist Chantal Hebert noted that while these elections might teach Ottawa about getting voters out to the polls, “neither the Toronto nor the Calgary municipal election is likely to be a federal game-changer.”
A lot of numbers came out this week, with little variation: Ford and Smitherman are running within one to two percentage points of each other.
The candidates threw their final punches this week in a number of lively debates, hosted by CP24, Newstalk 1010, the Henry Farm Community, the Bayview Village Association, and the 519 Church Street Community Centre. Smitherman’s record on eHealth was one of the only new issues on the table. (If the debates left you confused, see our series of articles parsing the mayoral platforms.)
Another debate ran aground at the last minute. All three candidates were scheduled to appear at 11 a.m. on Wednesday for a debate hosted by Get Active Toronto. Ford dropped out an hour before, citing the imminent release of the Auditor General’s report, and Smitherman followed suit five minutes before the debate was to begin, citing an unwillingness to show up if Ford would not. Pantalone sat alone on stage in front a 225-person audience.
Pantalone and Ford released their list of campaign contributions this week. The donor lists don’t contain any shocking news; the Post notes that Ford’s donations went up after each potential crisis in his campaign. Ford’s donations totalled $700,000, while Pantalone raised $850,000. Smitherman will (for some, unexplained reason) release his list of donors after the vote.
If You Have Nothing Nice to Say…
We lost a little civility this week. A pro-Smitherman group outside the CP24 debate chanted “racist” at Ford supporters. Smitherman called safe injection sites “shooting galleries,” and Doug Ford said that his brother Rob could get away with murder.
Smitherman made fun of Pantalone’s stature twice this week. First, his press release says Pantalone “has come up short again” on his fiscal plan. Then, at the CP24 debate, Smitherman commented, “It’s too bad your legs aren’t longer, or you [and Ford] could play footsie.” (Smitherman later apologized.)
Somehow, it’s still okay to make fun of Rob Ford’s weight. Last weekend Stephen Marche published a column in the Globe entitled “Rob Ford is not popular despite being fat. He’s popular because of it.” The Globe removed his column from the online version of the paper and cancelled Marche’s column. Pantalone, meanwhile, has started a Twitter hashtag called #SmorgasFord. Either this is another poor choice of words, or Pantalone is being a meanie.
If subtle attacks don’t cut it, you can always slice through a candidate’’s campaign signs. Or steal them. Or set them on fire.

Congratulations! You’ve almost made it to election day. As the candidates get ready for the big vote, expect more drama and desperate attempts to look good. Get yourself ready by checking out where to vote, and if you’re really keen, join us for our election day party.
Get more municipal elections coverage from Torontoist here