“Unity” dinner for mayoral candidates will help relieve campaign debts—especially Rob Ford’s

“Unity” dinner for mayoral candidates will help relieve campaign debts—especially Rob Ford’s

Mayor change: candidates, including the mayor-elect, are looking to help pay off their campaign debts (Image: Shaun Merritt)

After long election campaigns, there’s almost always the ugly aftermath of debt—specifically, the debts that campaigns rack up because they spent more money than they raised from supporters. Toronto’s mayoral election was no exception. But the city’s leading class (some might even call them “elites”) has an idea that might solve this fiscal problem: a fundraising “unity dinner” to help retire all the candidates’ debts. Two snags: 1) Joe Pantalone and George Smitherman don’t want to be unified with their erstwhile opponents, and 2) the event would overwhelmingly benefit Rob Ford, who is believed to have debts greater than the other candidates’ combined.

From the Globe and Mail:

Former premiers David Peterson and Mike Harris, former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory and fundraising guru Ralph Lean are among the elder statesmen who have begun discussing a joint event that would most likely be held in January…Mayor-elect Rob Ford is an enthusiastic backer of the idea, according to his brother and councillor-elect Doug Ford.

The mayor-elect is believed to have the largest debt of any of the contenders. He raised about $950,000 but spent the limit of approximately $1.3-million, not including the cost of fundraising and throwing a victory bash, said chief of staff Nick Kouvalis.

Meanwhile, neither Smitherman nor Pantalone will be involved in this dinner because the former doesn’t need the money, and the latter doesn’t want to be associated with Mike Harris’s charity. Pantalone spent the entire campaign running against Harris’s legacy, so the dinner would be awkward (but hilarious) if he were to show up with his hand out.

The candidates who will avail themselves of the opportunity lean to the right (not unlike the organizers): Ford, Sarah Thomson, Giorgio Mammoliti (remember his mayoral campaign?) and Rocco Rossi are all named as potential benefactors. But Ford’s debt is thought to be the largest by far: running a winning campaign isn’t cheap, and Ford spent an estimated $650,000 of his own money to round out his campaign war chest.

The exact figures are not confirmed, but Ford’s debt is believed to be more than all the other candidates’ combined, which means that despite dressing it up with words like “unity,” this dinner is really a second chance for the city’s wealthy conservatives to help out other wealthy conservatives to make a charitable donation to a worthy cause.

No word yet on if gravy will be on the menu.

• Fundraiser in the works to erase Toronto mayoral candidates’ campaign debts [Globe and Mail]
• Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Those pesky campaign debts [National Post]
• ‘Unity dinner’ planned to erase mayoral candidates’ debts [Toronto Star]
• Fundraiser proposed for mayoral candidates [National Post]