Toronto Election 2014 Power Rankings: the week we planted a million trees

Toronto Election 2014 Power Rankings: the week we planted a million trees

(Image: The City of Toronto) (Image: The City of Toronto)

This was a relatively quiet week in the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, though turmoil at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation provided a convenient opportunity for all the mayoral hopefuls to pile on Rob Ford.

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.

John Tory came on fairly strong this week.

Highlight: On Tuesday, Tory made an environmental-policy announcement. His plan is to double the city’s spending on tree-canopy maintenance over five years, so the city can plant around 380,000 new trees each year. It’s a decent idea in its own right, and it also helps differentiate Tory from Rob Ford, who notably suggested eliminating the city’s current $7 million tree budget. Tory also joined in the general condemnation of Ford’s continued defence of Gene Jones, TCHC’s now-former CEO. “This is just another example of Ford chaos,” Tory said in a news release.

Lowlight: There were some minor attacks on Tory from other candidates, but by and large he seemed to emerge from this week unscathed.

Power Rating: Three

Spirit Animal: Giant tortoise

Olivia Chow’s campaign continues to hum along at a steady pace.

Highlight: A few days after John Tory revealed his tree-planting plan, Chow attempted to one-up him with her own. She promises 100,000 extra trees a year at “no cost to the taxpayer” (the five sweetest words in municipal politics, at the moment). She’d get the money by increasing the fees the city charges businesses that discharge pollutants into Toronto’s sewage system.

She also landed a nice rhetorical hit on Rob Ford’s community-safety record, and scored an endorsement from filmmaker Sarah Polley.

Lowlight: One of her campaign workers, Warren Kinsella, turned up in a Globe investigation of some payments being made by the Ontario Liberal party to political insiders. There’s nothing to suggest that the money transfers were against the law, but they were done in a way that shields them from public scrutiny. So, that’s odd.

Power Rating: Three

Spirit Animal: Red squirrel

David Soknacki has yet to create much excitement around himself, but he’s still in the race.

Highlight: He showed up at Downsview Park to join councillor Maria Augimeri in demanding satisfaction from the federal government. Toronto loves its NIMBY causes, so being seen trying to thwart development can only help him. Also, he continues to do the most adorable photo ops of any candidate.

Lowlight: Nothing terrible happened to Soknacki this week, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. At least if his competitors were attacking him it would make it seem as though his campaign had a pulse.

Power Rating: Two

Spirit Animal: Silvery marmoset

Karen Stintz is still campaigning hard, but still looks like an also-ran.

Highlight: She joined in the general condemnation of Rob Ford’s defence of Gene Jones, pointing out the irony of Mr. Respect-for-Taxpayers coming to the defence of a guy who seems to have mismanaged a taxpayer-funded organization.

Lowlight: Maria Augimeri, who took over as TTC chair once Stintz resigned the position, announced this week that she wants to restore TTC bus service to pre-Ford levels. Stintz, who presided over Ford’s service reductions, was forced to respond. “Until we have a secure source of revenue, it will be an empty promise,” she said in a press release, which is true. And yet, Stintz has been as evasive about revenue sources as every other mayoral candidate. (This barely counts.)

Power Rating: Two

Spirit Animal: Blue-throated Macaw

Rob Ford spent much of the past week looking foolish and out of touch, but what else is new?

Highlight: His campaign launch could have been better attended, but there was a decent-sized crowd there. His speech, though riddled with exaggerations and outright falsehoods, was well delivered, and it really seemed to fire up the crowd.

Lowlight: Rob Ford tried to use his influence to rescue Gene Jones, but only ended up proving how politically impotent the mayor’s office has become. With TCHC once again in turmoil, Ford has lost any real claim on being social housing’s saviour—not that he ever really was. Also, The Guardian published a whole article about how he resembles Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons.

Power Rating: Three

Spirit Animal: Aurochs