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Toronto is now one step closer to ranked-ballot voting

(Image: RaBIT logo: Courtesy of RaBIT; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

(Image: RaBIT logo: Courtesy of RaBIT; Wynne: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)

If only the provincial government always worked this swiftly. In just under two weeks at Queen’s Park, ranked-ballot voting for Toronto has gone from a vague policy announcement to an actual bill, under consideration by an actual committee.

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Reaction Roundup: the seven top responses to yesterday’s Liberal victory in the Toronto Centre byelection

chrystia-freeland-linda-mcquaig

“Liberal candidate wins in Liberal stronghold” is not a very exciting statement, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the avalanche of coverage from yesterday’s byelections in Toronto Centre and three other ridings.

Sure, the turnout in the downtown district was only 38 per cent, and sure, history shows that byelections are rarely harbingers for future polls, but that didn’t stop the flow of opinion. Pundits and columnists seem to agree that last night was a victory for Justin Trudeau (although not a huge one), while party hacks continue to read the byelections’ entrails for glimmers of hope for their party.

We read through all the commentary on the races so that you don’t have to. Here, the seven key takeaways.

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Campaign wizard Nick Kouvalis won’t help Rob Ford in the next election—unless the mayor goes to rehab

(Image: Nick Kouvalis)

Nick Kouvalis, the mastermind behind the “gravy train” and with it Rob Ford’s 2010 election win, won’t help with Ford’s reelection effort unless the mayor goes to rehab first. Sources close to Kouvalis told the Globe and Mail that he’s concerned about what the pressure of another campaign would do to Ford’s health. (Asked to comment, the political strategist was predictably politic: “I love the Ford family, and I will do everything I can to help them.”). With Kouvalis out, the dream team Ford assembled for his 2010 mayoral run is in shambles: the mayor fired director of policy-turned-chief of staff Mark Towhey for his attempt to get Ford to seek addiction treatment, while executive assistant Kia Nejatian, who also played a key role in the 2010, resigned a week later. Ford, however, hasn’t let the exodus or the long wait until the 2014 election stop him from hitting the campaign trail as hard as ever. [Globe and Mail]

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Mayor May Not: we rundown Rob Ford’s recent (and lucky) close calls in court

Between a libel suit, a conflict-of-interest case and an election audit, Rob Ford is spending more time in court than Lindsay Lohan. But with news yesterday that the mayor won’t be prosecuted for improper campaign spending, Ford is free of serious legal challenges for the first time in more than a year. (That said, don’t shelf the #FordCourt hashtag just yet—he still has almost two years left in office, after all.) Below, we look back on the mayor’s biggest legal snafus and why he always seems to get a little lucky when it comes to the law.

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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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Michael Ignatieff makes doomsday predictions about the death of democracy

Michael Ignatieff is worried about democracy (Image: kyle mcmartin)

After being turfed retiring from federal politics last year, Michael Ignatieff has been on an intellectual crusade against political partisanship. In the last month alone, the former Liberal leader waxed academic on the subject during a lecture at Stanford University, on a BBC panel discussion and in an interview with Metro Morning’Matt Galloway. Apparently, Ignatieff’s upset that excessive partisanship and political nastiness is eroding democracy—precisely the kind of ivory tower preaching we expected from Iggy before he went from talking about politics (which he’s good at) to actually doing politics (which he’s not so good at). Below, a recent collection of Ignatieff’s most high-falutin’ assertions on democracy’s end days.

Iggy says: “In a democracy, I think, we have no enemies. We have rivals. We have opponents. But we don’t have enemies. Enemies are people you want to destroy. Enemies threaten you. Adversaries are simply people you compete with.” Someone please send this vocabulary lesson to Doug Ford.

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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 weirdest mayoralty ever—the inside story of Rob Ford’s city hall

Loyal councillors have defied him. His approval ratings have plummeted. And his powerful Conservative backers are nervous. How did it all go so wrong? The strange story of Rob Ford’s city hall

The Incredible Shrinking Mayor

On Newstalk 1010, the sly strains of the Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” offered the first clue. Then morning host Jerry Agar burst on the air with a surprise announcement: Rob Ford and his councillor sibling Doug were taking over the station’s Sunday afternoon talk-fest, The City. For the once-staid CFRB, landing the boisterous brother act that Margaret Atwood had puckishly dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” was clearly a coup, but that didn’t answer the more obvious question: why on earth would the Fords want to spend two more hours a week in front of an open microphone when they were hardly suffering from a lack of media exposure?

Rob Ford, after all, ranks as one of the most compelling and exhaustively chronicled figures in Canadian politics, adored and despised with equal gusto. His every pronouncement seems to turn into front-page fodder, his every grimace and belly scratch catalogued by rapt photographers. And who could forget the YouTube footage of comedian Mary Walsh arriving in his driveway, decked out with a velvet breastplate and a plastic sword?

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After stalling for 11 months, Rob Ford is finally ready for his election audit

(Image: Christopher Drost)

After stalling and stalling and stalling some more, Rob Ford has a radical new tactic for dealing with his campaign audit: just do it. A statement from the mayor says that he has asked his legal team to stop fighting the audit and to let it proceed immediately, a move that has been confirmed by Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler of Fair Elections Toronto, who pushed for the inquiry. Ford’s reasoning behind his change of heart: “It now appears that the way to have this matter addressed fully without delay is to proceed with an audit.” That’s very true—and would have been even truer back in May, when this audit business was first raised. Read the entire story [Torontoist] »

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In a shocking development, Rob Ford tried to delay his campaign audit—again

Rob Ford is a man who knows how to stall, but even his very best tactics couldn’t delay his upcoming audit appeal hearing any further. (You may recall that Ford’s campaign finances are, to put it nicely, not exactly sterling.) According to Fair Elections Toronto, the mayor forced a court date this morning to request that the April hearing be pushed to November, but it would seem the judge has denied him. The Fair Elections folks, who pushed for the audit, say Ford’s legal team has ignored repeated requests to establish a schedule to proceed—and they’ve got the phone and email records to prove it. Between this audit and the Clayton Ruby case, it looks like Ford could spend a good portion of his remaining two years as mayor in court. Good thing he’s gotten an early start on his campaigning for the next election. Read the entire release [Fair Elections Toronto] »

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Ontario Conservatives name Richard Ciano party president, hoping for that sweet Rob Ford campaign magic

Apparently hoping to learn a thing or two about, you know, actually winning elections, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives chose one of the masterminds behind Rob Ford’s triumphant mayoral campaign as the new party president. Just like the man he helped put in office, Richard Ciano, who runs the political consultancy firm Campaign Research alongside Nick Kouvalis, won the election handily. With Ciano at the helm, the Conservatives are hoping they can make in-roads in Toronto (Tim Hudak made the painfully obvious point that Ciano knows how to win elections there), where the party hasn’t landed a seat since 1999. Though we can’t help but wonder if the Conservatives really want to be betting on the Ford factor to deliver them Toronto right now. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Maria Augimeri avoids a by-election; Rob Ford avoids the referendum he probably doesn’t want anymore

Thanks to the Superior Court of Ontario, Maria Augimeri avoided the crushing indignity of a by-election. The court ruled last year’s results from the Ward 9 election, in which second-place finisher Gus Cusimano lost by a mere 89 votes are valid. Rob Ford and his supporters on council had publicly hoped for the opposite result, suggesting a by-election would serve as a referendum on the mayor’s performance so far; however, as we previously pointed out, they were likely overestimating the effect of removing left-wing Augimeri from council. Plus, before the waterfront debacle, the Marg Delahunty dust-up and the painful budget process, among other things, had tarnished the Ford’s image. Perhaps the good mayor would be slightly less enthused about a referendum today. Read the entire story [Torontoist] »

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Rob Ford could go to court over campaign finances—but likely won’t have to take the stand

Rob Ford is hoping an Ontario court will disregard a compliance audit committee’s findings and instead hold a trial to determine whether he violated the Municipal Elections Act during his mayoral campaign. Ford’s campaign finances have been under scrutiny since earlier this year when the Globe and Mail uncovered certain, let’s say, irregularities, and citizens Max Reed and Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler called for an audit. A three-person compliance audit committee was convened and called for a full review of Ford’s books. The decisions of committees like this one no longer go before council for approval, so Ford won’t be able to count on his allies to bail him out. Going to trial probably won’t help either, but luckily for the mayor, he’s unlikely to actually wind up on the witness stand. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

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Rob Ford hits the mayoral campaign trail several years early

Sure, Rob Ford may currently be riding out one of the rockier periods in his administration’s term thus far; but that hasn’t stopped him from committing to running for re-election in 2014. In fact, according to the Globe and Mail, Ford says he’s “already out campaigning.” Of course, the mayor has a lot to get done in the meantime. The budget gap is still gaping, and his detractors on council are getting bolder by the day (although the push for garbage privatization passed through council fairly easily). We wonder what part of the 2014 campaign he’ll focus on first: the necessary loans or the legal fundraisers? Read the entire story [Toronto Sun] »

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Activist watchdog Fair Elections Toronto continues dogging Rob Ford

Rob Ford probably has enough to worry about these days, but a group of activists is once again calling for a review of the mayor’s campaign finances, just in case he doesn’t. The Globe and Mail is reporting that the folks at Fair Elections Toronto, who are pretty much experts on this kind of thing, are reviewing the campaign documents that sparked the paper’s story yesterday. To recap quickly: documents indicate that Ford held three fundraisers in June and raised $71,500 without incurring any expenses, which is, to put it lightly, strange. Ford’s team has remained silent on the recent revelations so far. The Globe reported yesterday that the mayor’s spokesperson said a statement was forthcoming. She declined to comment for today’s story. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

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