CFRB indulges our fantasies by pretending there are only two candidates for mayor

CFRB indulges our fantasies by pretending there are only two candidates for mayor

War of the words: George Smitherman suggests a radio event that would pit him against Rob Ford  

In the gruelling, seemingly endless slog for mayor, Toronto’s voters have roughly 30 different candidates to consider (no really). So far, the media has focused on five “leading contenders”—but even then, those are the candidates polling at higher than one per cent. Each has his or her own pet issues, so the race has become a hopeless muddle: one day we’re convulsed by bike lanes, the next whether our buildings are pretty enough. From all this chaos, CFRB has emerged to instill order: the radio station is pretending that nobody but the top two candidates matter.

The Toronto Sun has the story:

George Smitherman says the mayoral debates are too crowded and he wants a radio cage match with Rob Ford—a challenge Ford says he’s only too happy to accept.

“It seems that he and I are kind of neck and neck, Smitherman told CFRB’s host Jerry Agar Thursday. “All the recent polls have shown us as the two top contenders. Why don’t you have him in here next week. Why don’t you actually have us for an hour? I think it would be a great opportunity to start to present the different visions that we have.”

CFRB spokespeople have since said that they’re not trying to swing the race in any candidate’s favour—fair enough; it was Smitherman who dropped this on them—but the other candidates are predictably peeved. Rocco Rossi manages to slam both candidates at once by saying Smitherman “wants to race against a rival he feels he can ridicule and caricature easily.” Sarah Thomson says she would understand if or when she’s written out of the election closer to October, and Joe Pantalone’s campaign calls this a “hail Mary”.

Why not a series of one-on-one debates, World Cup-style? The first bunch could be free-for-all, then there would be a series of elimination rounds. Most important of all, city hall has already endorsed the idea of people drinking at 10 a.m. for the World Cup, so why not this? Torontonians’ reaction to the mayoral race has thus far been a firm “meh”—playoffs and beer might be the only way to get people to care.

• Smitherman challenges Ford to 1-on-1 debate [Toronto Sun]
• Rumble on the Radio [Globe and Mail]
• Smitherman calls on Ford to debate him [CBC News]
• Looks to be a two-man mayor’s race: Smitherman [Inside Toronto]

(Images: Smitherman, Shaun Merritt; Ford, toronto.ca)