Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week everyone solved gridlock

Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week everyone solved gridlock

(Image: The City of Toronto)

Gridlock has been the major theme of the campaign for the past few days, with three candidates releasing separate—and not always mutually exclusive—proposals for speeding the flow of traffic through city streets. Who was sensible and who was nonsensical?

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.


David Soknacki’s campaign is still simmering, but full boil seems a long way off.

Highlight: Soknacki got a much-needed publicity boost from the Globe‘s Marcus Gee, who devoted a full column to burnishing the candidate’s nerdy mystique. Obscurity is the biggest thing Soknacki has going against him, and every press mention helps.

Lowlight: Soknacki has a relatively young campaign team, and so he’s been reasonably successful at harnessing the internet with clever memes. This week, however, there was a minor misfire. Soknacki released a YouTube video in which he reads a portion of a speech from the movie Footloose. It’s supposed to be a sweetly nerdy way of pointing out his disagreement with a ban on EDM shows in city buildings at the Ex, but to anyone who doesn’t already know who he is (so, a ton of people) the video kind of makes him seem like a crazy religious zealot.

Power Rating: Two

Photo-Op of the Week: Soknacki posted a picture of the Triumph TR6 he’s in the process of restoring. Looks like a sweet ride.


John Tory is in danger of becoming a third wheel.

Highlight: Tory has been pounding the pavement lately. He canvassed in Etobicoke, Rob Ford’s traditional home turf; he went to Sikh temples in Scarborough and Rexdale to celebrate Vaisakhi; and he even dropped in on the Art Gallery of Ontario’s annual Massive Party. Between campaign stops, he managed to roll out a new policy plank: a “fighting gridlock initiative” that includes a number of different proposals for dealing with heavy vehicle traffic.

Lowlight: Some of the gridlock proposals Tory announced this week are a little odd. One of them involves turning Lake Ontario into a commuter corridor using some form of water taxi, which may not go over well with with all the people who fanatically oppose anything that threatens to change the way the lakefront is used. He also proposes not tearing down the eastern section of the Gardiner—which would help commute times, yes, but would also interfere with waterfront development. Also, he wants to halt progress on a proposal to pedestrianize a portion of Eglinton Avenue, because he believes it will “increase traffic congestion”—an argument that would have more validity if Eglinton weren’t about to lose all its bus traffic.

Also not good for Tory: a new Forum Research poll shows him in third, behind Rob Ford and Olivia Chow.

Power Rating: Two

Photo-Op of the Week: What a lovely party hat!


Despite a steady stream of policy announcements, Karen Stintz still isn’t seen as a contender.

Highlight: For the past week, Stintz has been aggressively promoting her own idea to reduce gridlock: implement a new system, developed by U of T researchers, that uses a form of artificial intelligence to coordinate traffic lights. The system has never been tested on real streets, and city staff are skeptical, but other candidates are jumping on the bandwagon. Olivia Chow and David Soknacki have both name-checked “smart traffic lights” in the past week.

Lowlight: Stintz continues to poll poorly. Traffic lights alone aren’t going to win her this election.

Power Rating: Two

Photo-Op of the Week: So this is what Stintz means when she talks about building subways? Makes sense.


Olivia Chow is still looking strong.

Highlight: Chow also released a gridlock plan this week. Her proposed traffic solutions include cracking down on idling cars, charging builders more for closing lanes of traffic and hiring a “traffic liaison” for the mayor’s office. More good news: the most recent Forum Research poll puts her in the lead.

Lowlight: It’s not clear that Chow is solidifying the base of supporters she’ll need in order to beat Ford on election day. The polls indicate that she’s still struggling to win the affection of certain demographics—particularly, older, suburban voters.

Power Rating: Four

Photo-Op of the Week: Going to Caplansky’s Passover seder was a good move.


Rob Ford shows no signs of weakening.

Highlight: Ford’s big campaign launch is Thursday night, and it will most certainly be packed. As always with Ford, there will be no telling how many people are there because they love the mayor, and how many are there just to score bobbleheads and selfies. It’s clear that Ford still has some support, though: the latest Forum Research poll indicates that most of his supporters have no second choice in this race. For them, seemingly, it’s Ford or nothing.

Lowlight: Watching the mayor giggle at Jimmy Kimmel like a shy toddler was kind of sickening!

Power Rating: Four

Photo-Op of the Week: This illustration of him as Christ on the cross is pretty legendary.