Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week everybody got a little meaner
This was a relatively quiet week on the election front, with no major debates and only a few policy announcements, none of them particularly surprising. Rob Ford continues to dominate the headlines, and although the news is rarely good for him, it does, at least, prevent his challengers from getting as much ink as they otherwise might.
Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.
John Tory ramped up his assault on Rob Ford’s record this week, and even managed to advance some substantial policy ideas on things like lobbyist registration and food trucks.
Highlight: After promising not to attack Rob Ford on the basis of “personal issues,” Tory nevertheless took a very assertive stance against the mayor on Thursday. At a press conference, Tory unveiled a mayoral “code of conduct” to which he promises to adhere if elected. Item number one: “I will respect and defend our laws, not break them.” The idea of going after Ford as a law-breaker, rather than as a plain-old degenerate, is an interesting one. It’s a neat way of avoiding the appearance of condemning the mayor for having a messy private life—though of course, until Ford has actually been charged he’ll always be able wave aside any accusations of criminal wrongdoing.
Lowlight: During the launch of his code of conduct, Tory’s campaign staffers distributed a press release that contained a quote attributed to someone named “XXXXX”—presumably a placeholder for the name of some prominent citizen who hadn’t yet agreed to attach his or her name to Tory’s words. It’s no secret that press-release quotes are bullshit, but it’s sloppy for a politician to call attention to the fact. A spokesperson for Tory later said the quote was from former Ontario attorney general David Young. Also, during a food-truck rally, Tory ordered a grilled cheese from Caplansky’s instead of smoked meat, which was obviously the wrong move. In fairness, he’s watching his weight.
Power Rating: Three
Ice Cream Flavour: Vanilla: no fudge, no cherry, kiddie-sized.
Rob Ford is still under police investigation, but it’s starting to look as though he won’t be campaigning from a jail cell.
Highlight: We found out this week that Project Brazen 2, the police investigation into Ford’s activities, is stalled as a result of conflicting opinions among provincial and municipal detectives. Ford interpreted this development to mean that he had been “cleared” of wrongdoing.
Lowlight: Even though it seems as though Ford isn’t facing imminent arrest (which is always a good thing for one’s electoral chances) the police investigation is ongoing. Plus, he’s starting to face sharper criticism from fellow candidates. John Tory released a mayoral “code of conduct” that seemed designed to call attention to the mayor’s ethical lapses. Video of a small child parroting Ford’s crack confession didn’t help matters, and neither did Bill Clinton’s commentary on his job performance. And what are we to make of news that the mayor’s first re-election fundraiser is going to be held in Vaughan, of all places?
Power Rating: Three
Ice Cream Flavour: Rocky Road
David Soknacki still hasn’t broken out of his dark-horse-candidate ghetto.
Highlight: Soknacki’s campaign was mostly MIA, but he did win a small victory when Olivia Chow threw her support behind a policy plank of his: extending small business tax reductions past 2015. Soknacki’s campaign is trying to position him as a font of smart policy ideas, and there’s some truth to that characterization.
Lowlight: A Forum research poll released late last week puts Soknacki dead last, at four per cent, which is about where he’s been polling since October.
Power Rating: Two
Ice Cream Flavour: A whale-shaped ice-cream cake with “Get Well Soon” written on it in cursive.
Karen Stintz is beginning to define her candidacy.
Highlight: Friday’s big policy announcement from the Stintz camp was a proposal to consolidate the TTC, the city’s transportation services division, parking enforcement and taxi licensing into a single umbrella organization called “Transportation for Toronto” (after Transport for London). There’s nothing in Stintz’s proposal that explains exactly how it would make things better, and there’s no mention of Toronto’s existing transit authority, provincially controlled Metrolinx. Even so, it’s certainly…an idea.
Lowlight: Nothing especially terrible happened to Stintz this week, but she’s still way behind in the polls, and her policy proposals don’t seem to be gaining traction in any serious way.
Power Rating: Two
Ice Cream Flavour: Neapolitan, the most consolidated of ice-cream flavours.
Olivia Chow is still going strong, but she’s also becoming a target.
Highlight: On Edward Keenan’s radio show, Chow said the most honest thing any candidate has said to date about the Downtown Relief Line: it’s not going to get built in the near-term future, because we simply don’t have the resources to build it that quickly. “Can we do it faster?” she asked, rhetorically. “Maybe. But it’s $8 billion, a lot of money.” Every other candidate has promised action on the DRL, but none of them have said precisely where they’d find the money, or how they’d hurry the lengthy planning process along.
Lowlight: After her DRL comments, Chow’s opponents slammed her in a series of press releases. “This is an insult to the millions of people who commute daily on our overstressed subway system,” said a note from Karen Stintz. Also, news that Chow is actively courting expat voters in her native Hong Kong may not play well in some quarters, though it probably won’t hurt her reputation among recent immigrants, a group that is believed to be a major source of support for Rob Ford.
Power Rating: Three
Ice Cream Flavour: Pistachio