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Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Rob Ford’s Busy, Busy Weekend

rob-ford-foxYou’d think that, after a humiliating council meeting on  Friday, Rob Ford might take a few days to nurse his wounds before today’s city hall showdown. Quite the opposite. The mayor instead spent the weekend toured the city, variously appalling reporters, cursing in front of children and committing minor parking infractions. Here, the highlight from the mayor’s frenetic days off.

Rob Ford says he wants to run for prime minister of Canada
In an media blitz through some big American news stations, Rob reveals that his political aspirations aim way higher than merely mayor of Toronto. “Yes, one day I do want to run for Prime Minister,” Ford told Fox News. “I don’t believe Mr. Trudeau’s gonna be the next [prime minister], I believe Mr. Harper’s gonna get re-elected…You look at their record and put it to Mr. Trudeau’s record, it’s like night and day. Illegal drugs are illegal drugs. I’ve admitted to using illegal drugs in the last year. Okay.”

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Olivia Chow is writing a memoir, fueling speculation about a mayoral run

(Image: Andrew Rusk)

Olivia Chow, who has been toying with reporters about a possible mayoral run for months, is penning a memoir that’s supposed to come out in early 2014, right around the time campaigns kick off. The book will cover most of Chow’s life, including her move from Hong Kong to Toronto at age 13, her political career and—for lovers of the trustache disappointed by CBC’s lackluster biopic Jack—plenty of details about her relationship with Jack Layton. Her literary agent says the book is also going to touch on Chow’s decision to run for mayor—provided that’s what she decides to do. Either way, she’s figured out how to convert election speculation into book sales.

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Rob Ford went $40,000 over the spending limit, according to a campaign audit

(Image: Christopher Drost)

A very, very long-awaited audit of Rob Ford’s 2010 campaign finances released late this afternoon found the mayor blew the authorized spending limit by $40,168, or approximately three per cent. The report also says Ford illegally accepted accepted 11 cheques, totalling $6,000, from corporations. So what happens next? Toronto’s compliance audit committee must decide if the alleged contraventions of the Municipal Elections Act merit hiring a special prosecutor, who would then consider non-criminal charges against Ford. If they do, and Ford is found guilty in court, there’s a small chance he could—once again—find himself in a fight to remain in office. Read the full audit report [Toronto.ca]

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Glen Murray hopes his killer lasagna will make him Ontario’s premier

The backroom politicking ahead of this month’s Liberal leadership convention is now feverishly underway, with rival candidates quietly meeting in restaurants, bars and each other’s homes, trying to establish alliances in the seven-way race. During the convention, the lowest-ranked candidate after each ballot must drop out, and usually throws his or her support behind a remaining hopeful, making this early, behind-the-scenes maneuvering all-important. That’s why would-be premier Glen Murray is unleashing his secret weapon: homemade lasagna, most recently deployed for a home meeting with rival hopeful Sandra Pupatello. It’s not quite as crazy it sounds: no less than British prime minister David Cameron has wooed politicians with a cheesy plate of pasta. However, Murray did acknowledge he may need another trick (or a nice carpaccio) to win the majority—he’s currently sitting in a distant fourth place. [Toronto Star]

(Images: Glen Murray and Sandra Pupatello, Facebook; lasagna, Randolph Croft)

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QUOTED: Rob Ford and Adam Vaughan offer a taste of how vicious a mayoral by-election could get

You’re a liar—a liar, Adam Vaughan!

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QUOTED: Doug Ford sizes up Olivia Chow as a mayoral candidate

(Image: Andrew Rusk)

Olivia Chow would make David Miller look like a fiscal conservative … Olivia Chow is no Jack Layton, and if they want tax-and-spend government, they’re going to elect Olivia Chow.

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Liberal Watch: The six contenders for the Ontario Liberal party leadership so far

Although leading the struggling Ontario Liberal party may be the worst job in the province (just ask Dalton McGuinty), another four hopefuls have announced their candidacy since Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne kicked things off a week ago. Below, a cheat sheet on the list so far of would-be premiers (or, depending whom you ask, would-be opposition leaders).


Eric Hoskins
The minister of children and youth services until last week, Hoskins officially signed up for the race this morning. Not only is he a medical doctor, a Rhodes scholar and the founder of War Child Canada, but he is also friends with Chantal Kreviazuk, K’naan and Raine Maida, who has already proclaimed his support for Hoskins.

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Watch out, Austria: Magna man Frank Stronach is coming for you (with a brand new political party)

(Image: Steindy)

We’ve been wondering how Frank Stronach has been passing his days since he took a step back from Magna International and his race horse IPO project was shelved. Admittedly, we didn’t expect this: the auto-parts tycoon is planning to launch a new political party in his native Austria. Stronach told European news agencies that the party will take on the “cronyism and corruption” in the current government and will call for Austria to step away from the Eurozone. His ambitious goal for the 2013 elections: 10 per cent of the vote (Stronach will be a candidate, natch). As for his chances, Stronach is savvy and is one of Austria’s more famous success stories—never mind that he has more than enough cash to fund a campaign. [Toronto Star]

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The man who raised millions for George Smitherman’s campaign is helping get Rob Ford re-elected

(Image: Ryerson)

It’s no secret Rob Ford is thinking ahead to the 2014 election—and now he has landed fundraising veteran Ralph Lean to help. Lean, a Bay Street lawyer, gushed over the mayor’s budget and labour victories in the Globe and Mail this weekend and confirmed that he’ll head up Ford’s fundraising team (a job he has done for various mayoral candidates since 1980). Most recently, Lean helped rake in more than $2.17 million for George Smitherman’s failed run against Ford and was partially responsible for that strange “unity dinner” that helped several candidates, including Ford, clear their campaign debts. It’s a coup for Ford, who only raised $1.08 million in 2010. That said, Lean has his detractors, who say he exaggerates his abilities and doesn’t always deliver. [Globe and Mail]

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QUOTED: Doug Ford’s daughter Krista on whether she’ll be the third Ford at city hall

Would consider running if city hall upgraded their fitness facility. My personal health will always come first. :) ‪#gymjunkie

Krista Ford, a personal trainer and former Lingerie Football League player, on whether she’d ever join her dad, Doug Ford, and uncle Rob at city hall. Krista isn’t the only Ford with political ambitions: her father recently said he’d ditch Toronto council to run for a provincial seat should Dalton McGuinty call an election this summer, and joked about enlisting another family member to cover the federal political scene. While Krista’s tweet was obviously tongue-in-cheek, the idea of a city hall career isn’t out of the question—last year, when The Grid asked her if she planned on getting into politics, her response was: “Ha. No. Well, not yet.” (h/t Torontoist)

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QUOTED: Doug Ford on why he may quit city politics by July

If [the premier] calls the election in July, I’m gone.

—Councillor and would-be MPP Doug Ford, on why he may make his leap to provincial politics as soon as this summer, rather than waiting, as he has previously mused, until his term ends in 2014. Ford was fired up after Dalton McGuinty warned that the current provincial budget debates are faltering, which could mean a snap election this summer. If that were the case, Ford says, he would run as a Progressive Conservative and leave the city politics up to his brother: “Municipally, we have that covered with Rob. I’m going to cover the provincial side, and stay tuned on the federal side,” he said. (Apparently that last bit was a joke, though Ford did add, “But we have got a big family.”) [National Post]

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Etobicoke has fallen out of love with Rob Ford since his reporter-chasing hijinks

(Image: The City of Toronto)

Funnily enough (or sadly enough, from the perspective of civic engagement), the ridiculous Daniel Dale incident seems to have affected Rob Ford’s approval rating more than any of his decisive political defeats from earlier this spring. Poll results released today show that 40 per cent of Toronto residents approve of the job Ford is doing, down seven percentage points since last month and 20 percentage points since his early days as mayor. And in his home turf of Etobicoke, Ford’s approval rating plummeted 15 percentage points to 33 per cent. Lorne Bozinoff, the president of Forum Research, who conducted the survey, suggested Torontonians are not impressed with Ford’s attempt to buy the parkland abutting his house and the brouhaha that followed. Bozinoff also said west-enders might be feeling snubbed since Ford has ignored his former ward, focusing his attention across town to bring subways subways subways to Scarborough. Still, we thought Etobicoke residents wouldn’t turn away from Ford until hell froze over, pigs flew and the sky started to fall—oh, right. [National Post]

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Gus Cusimano still wants Ward 9, nearly two years after the election

(Image: Facebook)

Though the 2010 civic election feels like a distant memory, Gus Cusimano is still fighting Maria Augimeri for the York Centre ward. To recap: Augimeri won the ward by a slim 89 votes, but, in April 2011, the Ontario Superior Court ruled her victory invalid due to irregularities in the voter list and ordered a by-election; by December, an appeals court had decided the results were fine and the by-election was off. Now, the Ontario Court of Appeal has granted Cusimano, a Rob Ford supporter, leave to appeal that latest decision. But he may not want to celebrate just yet—this week, a city-ordered audit of his campaign finances found some dodgy-looking cheques that could get Cusimano in a lot of trouble. Auditors say that the dates on some fundraisers’ cheques were altered to make it seem like they arrived before the July cut-off for campaign contributions (a bunch of sevens were artlessly changed to sixes to make the cut). Between the voting irregularities, the campaign finance irregularities and the multiple judicial appeals, we bet the 2014 election will be fast approaching by the time this gets sorted out.  [Toronto Star]

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QUOTED: Rob Ford opponent Shelley Carroll says she wants to see more of the mayor

(Image: Christopher Drost)

—Councillor Shelley Carroll, targeting Rob Ford for spending too much time gadding about instead of staying at his desk and building consensus with the rest of council. We’re not totally convinced that Carroll, a vocal critic of Ford, is genuinely interested in building a close working relationship with the mayor, and her examples don’t quite work anyway: Ford cancels nearly as many weigh-ins as he shows up to and does his dull and offensive radio show on the weekend. Meanwhile, Ford supporters, including Doug Holyday, pointed out the mayor conducts much of his city business outside the walls of city hall. More on the mark was Carroll’s criticism that Ford is focused on making promises for the 2014 election instead of working with council now. That said, Carroll, the budget chief during the David Miller years, has suggested she wants the mayor’s job come 2014—which would explain why it seems like Ford’s not the only one engaged in some pretty obvious (and early) electioneering. [Toronto Sun]

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Could his support for a GTA casino hurt Rob Ford in the 2014 election?

(Image: Shaun Merritt)

Most of the casino coverage has focused on the economic and social aspects of the debate, but today Spacing’John Lorinc turns his attention to the potential political fallout. He argues that the casino issue has potentially upended the 2014 election, which, until now, pundits had assumed would be centred around subways and fiscal conservatism—issues on which Rob Ford continues to garner a healthy amount of support. However, if a referendum on a casino is on the 2014 ballot, Lorinc continues, it could be “manna from heaven for the centre-left.” The logic goes that Ford’s opponents would be able to rally against the pro-casino mayor by calling attention to the corporate and political villains and backroom deals that surely go along with pushing through such a development. Lorinc says that the trick is to not sound too sanctimonious about shielding Toronto from wicked gambling dens, but rather to paint Ford “as someone willing to gamble the future of the city and its waterfront.” For a mayoral race that’s still more than two years away, things are already getting heated. Read the entire story [Spacing Toronto] »

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