Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week Rob Ford self-destructed
This week came to a screeching, crack-smoking, ethnic-slur-spewing halt on Wednesday, when the public learned that Rob Ford has spent the past six weeks self-medicating in nightclub bathroom stalls, arguing with Justin Bieber and smoking mysterious substances in strange basement rec rooms. For the other candidates, the mayor’s leave of absence is both a challenge and an opportunity. It frees them from his overbearing influence, but also robs the race of its single most sensational element. Considering that, and the fact that a provincial election will be happening on June 12, mayoral hopefuls may need to work a little harder to keep themselves in the news for the next month or so.
Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.
Rob Ford was doing surprisingly well for himself until this week, but his personality was bound to catch up with him.
Highlight: There was no part of the past seven days that could be construed as good for him. We tried. Sorry.
Lowlight: At the start of the week, it seemed as though the worst of Ford’s problems would be the city manager’s report that refuted his claim that he has saved taxpayers a billion dollars. Then Wednesday happened. If there’s any precedent for a politician being the target of three incredibly damaging news stories all in the space of a single night, we’re not aware of it. The circumstances that forced Ford into hiding still seem incredible two days later. He’s expected to spend a month in an unspecified treatment facility, but it may not be enough time. It’s early yet, but the polls show him moving into third place.
Power Rating: One
Reading Assignment: Basically anything here.
Olivia Chow had a very good week indeed.
Highlight: Before the Ford debacle on Wednesday, Chow managed to get a major campaign announcement out into the media. Her plan to redirect the billion dollars that would otherwise be spent on a Scarborough subway extension into other public-transit priorities hasn’t been universally popular, but it makes some sense. What’s more, it doesn’t rely on any mysterious, yet-to-be-announced sources of funding. At the moment, Chow is the only candidate making transit promises that won’t require black magic to deliver. The latest Forum poll puts her in first place.
Lowlight: She stopped just short of calling for Ford’s resignation in her statement on Thursday. Chow is clearly trying to run a positive campaign, but every now and then we want to see her take an opportunity to step on the mayor’s throat. Also, this business with the Iron Sheik was embarrassing for everybody involved.
Power Rating: Four
Reading Assignment: The Art of War
John Tory is hanging in there, and Ford’s loss is probably his gain.
Highlight: On Sunday, Tory made a campaign appearance at a Yom Hashoah service in Vaughan, then headed over to an Armenian genocide commemoration in North York. So, two ethnic genocides spanning two world wars in one day. Impressive stamina, Mr. Tory. Then, on Wednesday, he became one of only two candidates to explicitly call for Ford’s resignation. Tory has often been criticized for seeming indecisive, so taking a hard line on the mayor’s behaviour looks good on him.
Lowlight: Tory has spent the entire campaign so far slagging Chow for not promising immediate action on the downtown relief line. And yet, he still hasn’t said exactly how he hopes to finance the line’s construction. Now that Chow has released a somewhat detailed transit plan, the onus is on Tory to show voters he’s for real.
Power Rating: Three
Reading Assignment: Accounting For Canadians For Dummies
David Soknacki is still waiting for his moment.
Highlight: Where were you this week, David Soknacki? We missed you. After days of not doing very much that could be considered newsworthy, D-Soks emerged on Wednesday to issue a strong, if brief, condemnation of Ford’s behaviour. He, like Tory, is calling on the mayor to resign.
Lowlight: We’re sure Soknacki is doing lots of canvassing, and we know his events calendar is full to bursting. Even so, he’s been awfully quiet these past few weeks. Bring back the nerdy energy and the smart policy announcements.
Power Rating: Two
Reading Assignment: How to Win Friends and Influence People
Karen Stintz had a rough week, though some of it clearly wasn’t her fault.
Highlight: She released a $1.6 billion transit plan that will probably make some people really happy.
Lowlight: Well, there was the whole thing with Ford saying he wanted to “jam” her. It was a really disgusting comment, and Stintz’s disgusted response was well warranted. Worse for her, though, are the unanswered questions around her transit plan. It’s still not clear how precisely how she’ll go about extracting that $1.6 billion without leaving big holes in the city’s budget. She’s going to need to come up with something better if she hopes to wrest this race away from Chow and Tory.
Power Rating: Two
Reading Assignment: No books, but considering the week she’s had, maybe relaxing with Jezebel on the iPad would be cathartic?