Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: who won the week?
In a sense, this was the true first week of the 2014 Toronto mayoral election. The first televised debate of the campaign took place on Wednesday evening, on CityNews. There was a moderate amount of mud-slinging, and there were even—miracle of miracles—a couple solid, constructive policy pronouncements, including a promise by Karen Stintz to tap Toronto Hydro for a little extra public-transit money.
Here’s how the week went for each of the five major candidates.
Rob Ford had a relatively good week, but he may not be able to outrun his scandals for much longer.
Highlight: Ford owned Wednesday’s CityNews debate. He seemed calm and collected throughout, and barely had to do any talking about his crack scandal. A free-for-all format allowed him to spout talking points virtually unchallenged. It was the most re-electable he’d looked in at least two years.
Lowlight: Where to begin? Over the course of the week, the mayor managed to get into a public tiff with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, lose a crucial vote on the future of the island airport and get himself disinvited to a military ball. And then, on Thursday, he tanked at Ryerson’s debate, where students heckled him while he tried defend his record. Friday’s extremely tough Metro Morning interview, during which Ford had an honest-to-God “I am not a crook” moment, capped off an uneven week.
Power Rating: Three
Fortune-Cookie-Style Prediction: Past troubles will continue to haunt you.
David Soknacki’s campaign continues to be hobbled by his lack of name recognition.
Highlight: Tuesday’s Metro Morning interview went well, especially when Soknacki started talking about the possibility of using dedicated taxes to fund transit expansion. D-Soks has very little to lose by tackling controversial issues like taxation, and being perceived as the candidate of logic and math could work to his advantage.
Lowlight: After a tepid performance at Wednesday’s CityNews debate, Soknacki didn’t fare much better at the following night’s un-televised debate at Ryerson University. “Why are you here? You’re at two per cent,” moderator Ralph Lean asked him. Soknacki responded that it’s still early in the campaign, which is true.
Power Rating: Two
Fortune-Cookie-Style Prediction: Endurance is frequently rewarded.
John Tory is off to a good start, but he has yet to reveal his stance on several controversial issues.
Highlight: Last week’s campaign launch put to rest any suspicions that Tory was going to try to coast through the election on his reputation. The one-time provincial PC leader has been very disciplined in repeating his core campaign message: “livable, affordable, and functional” are three words we’re sure we’ll be hearing a lot more often in coming weeks.
Lowlight: At Wednesday’s CityNews debate, while under direct questioning about his preferred strategy for funding new public transit, Tory would say only that he’ll be releasing a detailed plan at some point later in the campaign. He’s been similarly equivocal about Porter Airlines’ expansion proposal for the island airport, telling reporters that the city needs more information before a decision can be made.
Power Rating: Three
Fortune-Cookie-Style Prediction: Fortune favours the brave.
Karen Stintz is having trouble shedding her image as a political opportunist.
Highlight: Her proposal to fund transit expansion by selling part of Toronto Hydro isn’t perfect, but it’s bound to win her some support from conservative voters.
Lowlight: Stintz changed her opinion on Porter Airlines’ expansion proposal for the island airport, from “no jets” to “maybe jets, if conditions favor them.” She spent the rest of the week trying to make it seem as though the switch wasn’t a major reversal, but it is. Also, CUPE Local One is trying to ruin her life.
Power Rating: Two
Fortune-Cookie-Style Prediction: Now is a good time to have the courage of your convictions.
Olivia Chow has begun establishing herself as Rob Ford’s staunchest opponent.
Highlight: Chow put in a good showing at Wednesday’s CityNews debate, where she was the only candidate whose rhetorical feints against Rob Ford seemed to land consistently. Yesterday evening, her camp announced that her campaign contributions have already passed the $400,000 mark, which is impressive so early in the race.
Lowlight: Chow had to pull a quick reversal after suggesting that, if given the opportunity to follow through on her campaign promise to scrap the Scarborough subway extension, she’d nevertheless retain the tax hike earmarked for that project and spend the money on other things.
Power Rating: Four
Fortune-Cookie-Style Prediction: You have many friends.