Swing to the right: it’s a whole new Toronto as Rob Ford and many right-wingers win offices at city hall

Swing to the right: it’s a whole new Toronto as Rob Ford and many right-wingers win offices at city hall

Mayor-Elect Rob Ford (Image: Derek Shapton) 

The election spanned 11 months, but counting the ballots took only a few minutes. At 8:08 p.m.—480 seconds after polls closed—CP24 declared that Rob Ford was the newly elected mayor of Toronto. Many pundits and polls predicted a late night and a tight race, but they were all proven wrong: Ford won handily with about 47 per cent of the vote, and Toronto’s rightward tilt was emphasized as a handful of prominent left-wing councillors or challengers went down in defeat. The results for Ford’s challengers more than prove it: George Smitherman nabbed 35.5 per cent; Joe Pantalone, just 12.

Aside from the mayor’s office, the biggest loss for the left was Sandra Bussin in Ward 32, where a serious anyone-but-Bussin campaign coalesced in the weeks before election night. This is a particular feather in the cap of the right (if the Toronto Sun had to choose between Ford’s win and Bussin’s loss, we’re not sure which it would have picked). In Ward 18, Ana Bailão beat out Adam Giambrone’s heir-designate Kevin Beaulieu amid accusations of dirty tricks on election day. Adrian Heaps was defeated in Ward 35 by long-time rival Michelle Berardinetti, showing, as with Bussin’s defeat, that councillors would do well to listen to city staff more often.

Of course, this is Toronto, so the election wasn’t a total wipeout for the left. Mike Layton, Kristin Wong-Tam and Sarah Doucette will all be new faces for the council’s left wing, but most of that new blood is just replacing outgoing left-wing councillors, leaving the balance of the night favouring the right.

The revellers-to-be started filing in to the Smitherman election night party at the Guverment well before 8 p.m. last night, but the reporters and cameramen seemed to outnumber them until just before the polls closed. In the moments after CP24 declared Rob Ford the mayor-elect, the bar started doing brisk business and a lone middle-aged woman could be heard wailing, “This can’t be, it just can’t be.”

George "Also Ran" Smitherman concedes the Toronto mayoral election to Rob Ford last night in front of supporters, including his son, Michael, and husband, Christopher Peloso (Image: John Michael McGrath) 

Waiting for Smitherman to come out and concede, some of Toronto’s more prominent Liberals milled around: former Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten was spotted, as was former federal Liberal leader Bill Graham. But the shell-shocked atmosphere didn’t really start to fade until campaign volunteers started to crowd onto the stage and prepare for a concession speech from a candidate who had secured a smaller share of the vote than John Tory did in 2003.

“The people of Toronto have spoken, and tonight, my friends, they have sent a very clear message,” said Smitherman. It was a message that some of the people in the crowd weren’t quite ready to hear: after wishing the mayor-elect success, Smitherman had to shout down some boos from the crowd. “No, no, no.  Toronto is too important. There are no boos tonight. We love our city.”

• New mayor, vastly different council [Toronto Star]
• Bussin defeat ‘end of era’ [Toronto Star]
• Ford, the win and the wards [Open File]
• New mayor, many new councillors in T.O. [Toronto Sun]
• Mayor-elect Ford, meet your fresh-faced council [Globe and Mail]
• Berardinetti wins re-match with Heaps [Toronto Sun]