Head versus heart: Toronto’s lefties grapple with their choice—Pantalone or not-Ford?

Head versus heart: Toronto’s lefties grapple with their choice—Pantalone or not-Ford?

As the campaign enters its final five days, the basic divide doesn’t seem to be changing much: Rob Ford and George Smitherman are basically tied around 40 per cent, with Joe Pantalone in a distant third with about 15 per cent. This leaves the city’s left with a problem they haven’t had in a while: deciding whether to vote their hearts and throw their support to Pantalone, or vote for Smitherman as a way of blocking Ford’s ascent.

Despite his very recent adaptation of the progressive label, Smitherman hasn’t made it easy for lefties to sign up. There was his long campaign against the Miller legacy in the early part of the campaign, the way he adopted some of Ford’s ideas (for example, his awfully similar financial plan), and his willingness to discuss privatizing certain parts of the TTC. All of this makes many lefties nervous.

Pantalone has not, however, been the perfect candidate for the left, either. There’s his history of battling against bars and restaurants in Queen West while working hard to make sure that soccer fans can spend their morning drunk, an odd priority. His campaign has had some regrettable moments in which he has come off as entitled, angry or even petulant. His outburst at Sarah Thomson during the TEA debate springs to mind, as does the moment he told Metro Morning that he would spoil his ballot or stay home rather than vote for Ford or Smitherman. He’s not exactly encouraging voters there. (Tip: politicians are never really asked questions about what they would do as individuals. Questions worded that way are really about what they think others should do.)

So what does the city’s left do? Well, the Post’s Jonathan Goldsbie captures the sense of self-loathing that some must feel when they consider voting for any of the candidates. One idea he has is actually voting for Ford and hoping the left coalesces in council to stonewall everything Mayor Ford tries to do. Others, like Michael Hollett at Now, refuse to be bullied into voting for the second-worst candidate.

The discussion is going to continue until election day, but the results from the 2003 and 2006 elections provide a hint to how all this will end. Look at these polls from Torontoist: the third- and fourth-place candidates lost support badly when it came to the big day. If history holds, Pantalone is going to see a lot of defections come Monday.

Left stuck in quandary between head and heart, councillor finds [National Post]
• Real Pantalone backers have little choice [Toronto Star]
• Smitherman feverishly hunts Pantalone voters [Toronto Star]
• Posted Political Panel: Goldsbie will hate himself no matter how he votes [National Post]

(Homepage images: Ford, Smitherman, Pantalone by Shaun Merritt)