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Toronto Election 2014

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Semi-important question: what do 2014’s mayoral candidates like to drink?

mayoral-candidates

We might not typically judge a candidate for public office based on his or her drink of choice, but considering how much we know about our current mayor’s drinking preferences—whether it be a few beers at a Leafs game, an early-morning bottle of brandy at his office, or just a few Iceberg vodkas and Tropicana grape juices with an old friend in the park—it seems only fair that we ask those who seek to unseat Rob Ford what beverages they turn to after a hard day of arguing about who did or didn’t actually save the city a billion dollars.

Sure, there are far more important issues, but there’s also something to be said for getting the candidates off their scripted talking points. There are few things more personal than how someone chooses to unwind.

And so, with that in mind, here’s what the top contenders for mayor like to drink, along with some wild speculation about what their choices say about how they might govern if they win.


stintz-martini
Candidate: Karen Stintz

Beverage of choice: Hendricks gin martini with three olives

Analysis: Interestingly, despite her often indecisive approach to policy (see: changing her mind on light rail and the island airport expansion), this answer is unequivocal: Karen Stintz knows what she wants to drink, right down to the brand of gin and even the amount of olives. It’s a classy (and delicious) drink but, tellingly, it’s one that’s often associated with urban sophisticates. In some ways, then, the choice of a martini speaks to the identity crisis Stintz has faced as she has tried to bridge the divide between urban and suburban voters—a struggle best exemplified by her now infamous “I’m like you” tweet.

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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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-election-power-rankings-week-2

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.

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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So, what happened during the 2014 mayoral election’s first televised debate?

(Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

(Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

Last night’s CityNews mayoral debate was the first opportunity for 2014’s mayoral candidates to interact with one another on television. It was, in more ways than one, a mess. The format was a free-for-all, with short opening statements from each of the candidates followed by no-moderation shouting matches on general topics like “transit” and “leadership.” This way of doing things tended to reward loud voices and feigned indignation, which happen to be two of Rob Ford’s strengths. And so it’s not particularly surprising that most of the post-debate analysis has focused on how unexpectedly well he did, considering, you know, all the stuff. Nobody even mentioned crack until more than an hour in.

There were a few opportunities for pre-selected journalists to pose questions to the candidates of their choice, but by and large very little actual policy emerged from the fray. That much isn’t entirely CityNews’s fault: it’s still relatively early in the campaign and none of the candidates have finalized their platforms yet.

Even so, there were some good parts. Here are some of them:

Most-vicious burns:

“You’ve let the citizens of this city down. You’ve let the reputation of this city down. Maybe you’d like to address that. (Tory, to Ford)

“I don’t really need to take any lessons from you, because we’re not on the golf course right now.” (Chow, to Tory)

“How could you get away with all this crazy lying? Because there’s not truth.” (Chow, to Ford)

“John, you had your chance at the province and you fell flat on your face. You know it and I know it.” (Ford, referencing Tory’s time as leader of the Ontario PC party)

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Toronto Election 2014

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Karen Stintz wants to sell off part of Toronto Hydro to help pay for the Downtown Relief Line

(Image: Karen Stintz/Facebook)

(Image: Karen Stintz/Facebook)

No Toronto mayoral campaign is complete without at least one candidate promising to sell off Toronto Hydro so the proceeds can be used to fund some kind of crowd-pleasing project. Earlier today, at a press conference held at the corner of Carlaw Avenue and Gerrard Street East, Karen Stintz became the first to suggest taking a hammer to Toronto’s electricity piggybank.

Although a few weeks ago Stintz was saying that her preferred option would be to lease Toronto Hydro to a private operator, today she told reporters that, if elected mayor, she’d straight-up sell a large part of the city-owned electricity provider. The resulting payout would be funneled into the Downtown Relief Line, a proposed new subway line that in theory would relieve crowding on the Yonge-University-Spadina line.

Toronto Hydro’s value has been estimated at around $1 billion, but provincial rules make it difficult for the city to sell more than a 10 per cent stake in the company without incurring massive tax penalties. Even so, Global News reports that Stintz is confident the sale would net at least $500 million, assuming Queen’s Park could be brought onside. Of course, there is a catch.

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Toronto Election 2014

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Five things we learned at John Tory’s campaign launch

(Image: CP24/Screenshot)

(Image: CP24/Screenshot)

John Tory held his official campaign launch on Wednesday evening, signalling the start of formal hostilities between him and the four other major candidates in the 2014 mayoral campaign. Here, five things we learned while we were there.

1. He can pack a room
The Polish Combatant’s Hall on Beverley Street isn’t a very large venue (its website says the main hall can hold a maximum of around 250 people), but it was, at least, packed—like, undergrad-bar-on-St.-Patrick’s-day packed. A rival campaign with no scruples about dirty tricks could probably have cleared the place with a call to Toronto Fire Services.

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Toronto still doesn’t know what to think about Porter’s jet proposal

(Image: DearEdward)

(Image: DearEdward)

With city council’s executive committee gearing up for next week’s debate on Porter Airlines’ bid to bring jets to the island airport, a new Forum Research poll reinforces what has been apparent for some time: Toronotonians are pretty evenly split over the proposal.

According to the Star, the poll of 1,271 people found 46 per cent in favour and 40 per cent against, but the margin of error was three percentage points, meaning support for both sides can be considered more or less even. A December poll found 43 per cent in favour and 39 per cent against, so it seems as though everyone has managed to pick up a few adherents. Among the groups most likely to support the jet proposal were men, Etobicoke/York residents and supporters of Rob Ford.

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Olivia Chow takes her mayoral campaign to the Toronto Sun

Olivia Chow at Thursday's campaign launch. (Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

Olivia Chow at Thursday’s campaign launch. (Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

The Toronto Sun, the tabloid that helped create Rob Ford’s public persona, propelling him to the mayoralty in 2010, is now very, very sorry for the mess. (Or at any rate, its editorial board is now admitting it was wrong, which amounts to the same thing.) In that context, it’s not so surprising that the paper chose to publish an op-ed by Olivia Chow, the mayoral candidate whose politics bear the least in common with the Sun’s right-wing, small-government stance.

The article itself (you can read it here) is pretty much a repeat of what Chow said yesterday during her campaign kick-off speech, but what’s interesting is the generally positive tone of the comments, many of them supportive of Chow’s declaration that she, like her opponent David Soknacki, would cancel the Scarborough subway extension in favour of replacing the Scarborough RT with light rail, as originally planned.

It’s widely assumed that supporting a subway (rather than a longer, cheaper above-ground light-rail line) for Scarborough is the key to winning votes in that part of the city, but if recent polls are anything to go by, that’s not necessarily true. Subway-boosting candidates like Ford and Karen Stintz could find themselves on the wrong side of this issue, with no room to backpedal.

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Let’s review the websites of Toronto’s mayoral candidates

ford

They say you can tell a lot about someone by what kind of shoes they wear. Right? They say that? Still?

Anyway, if that’s even true, then surely it must also hold that you can gain insight into Toronto’s mayoral hopefuls by looking at their websites, which are now all online. So, let’s do exactly that.

Rob Ford

Address: Robfordmayor.ca

Tagline: It’s all about respect for tax payers. [Sic. “Taxpayer” is usually spelled as a compound word.]

Palette: The classic red, white and blue that mark Rob Ford as what he probably thinks he is: some Great Northern mutation of an all-American dixiecrat politician good ole boy.

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Tentpole issues: Keeping taxes low, the Scarborough subway extension, being Rob Ford.

Review: Ford’s campaign site is a Burroughsian cut-up of mismatched fonts and design elements. Italics and ALL CAPS are deployed with abandon.

Bonuses: All those Ford Nation YouTube videos are there, whew.

Grade: B-

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Election Issue Watch: let’s all argue about the Gardiner Expressway for another year

The Gardiner could be in better shape. (Image: detsang)

The Gardiner could be in better shape. (Image: detsang)

At the beginning of the week, it seemed possible that the Gardiner Expressway’s future could be settled without first dragging the issue through eight months of ad-hoc revision during dozens of mayoral debates. Nope!

On Tuesday, at a meeting of the city’s public works and infrastructure committee, councillors voted to shelve a staff-endorsed plan to tear down the Gardiner’s eastern elevated segment. Rather than commit to that course of action, the committee wants the city to spend a year preparing a new option for the Gardiner—one recommended by First Gulf Corporation, a developer, and endorsed by mayoral candidate Karen Stintz. It calls for most of the Gardiner’s eastern stretch to be left standing, but for a new Don Valley Parkway connection to be built. In theory, this would free up land for development without delaying auto traffic.

But consider this: if any of the five major mayoral candidates makes a specific promise concerning how he or she will deal with the Gardiner, and then wins the election decisively enough that he or she is perceived to have a mandate, whatever that candidate wants done with the expressway could very well prevail over the recommendations of any senior city staffers or outside experts. Once issues are sucked into the campaign vortex, they can come flying out at any angle. Toronto will have to wait and see—although the crumbling elevated highway isn’t going to get any cheaper or easier to deal with in the interim.

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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What Toronto’s mayoral candidates have to say about extending last call to 4 a.m.

mayoral-candidates-versus

Last week, a group called Extend Last Call T.O. made headlines with its attempt to rally the city behind the idea of extending last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. This being an election year, it was only a matter of time before someone polled the four major mayoral candidates about their views on late-night booze. The Star did the job on Sunday. Here’s what the candidates—with the exception of Olivia Chow, who hasn’t formally joined the race yet—had to say.

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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Poll puts Rob Ford, John Tory and Olivia Chow in a virtual dead heat

(Image: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

John Tory. (Image: Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

With the 2014 mayoral campaign officially underway, the time has come for a pre-election ritual: a cavalcade of opinion polls measuring relative levels of support for each candidate.

This early in the game, it’s wise to be wary of polls. The candidates haven’t had time to introduce themselves to the public, so much of what’s being measured is name recognition. (Back in 2003, David Miller did terribly in the polls until just before he was elected mayor.) All we can hope for at this point in time is a reasonably accurate snapshot of voter sentiment right now.

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The city is officially pushing the “remove” option for the Gardiner Expressway

Lake Shore Boulevard, before and after the proposed demolition of part of the elevated section of the Gardiner. (Image: Courtesy of the city)

Lake Shore Boulevard, before and after the proposed demolition of part of the elevated section of the Gardiner. (Image: Courtesy of the city)

We knew this was coming, but it’s a big deal all the same: city staff are officially recommending that councillors vote to get rid the elevated portion of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis Street. The move would save the city money, free up development space, and clear the way for some ground-level beautification—but vehicle travel times would increase. The idea will go before the city’s public works and infrastructure committee on March 4th, after which city council will have to give its approval.

It’s not clear whether the project would proceed immediately, even if councillors were to give it the green light. Rob Ford opposes demolishing the Gardiner. Karen Stintz, who formally announced her mayoral candidacy on Monday, is pushing a “hybrid” solution that involves leaving the highway up for the time being. If the expressway becomes an election issue, anything can happen.

The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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A Q&A with mayoral candidate Karen Stintz

(Image: Stintz: Karen Stintz/Facebook; City Hall: Derek Hatfield)

(Image: Stintz: Karen Stintz/Facebook; City Hall: Derek Hatfield)

Karen Stintz became Toronto’s latest mayoral candidate this morning when she officially filed her nomination papers, just a couple hours after John Tory did the same. The race is now a complex one, with no fewer than four credible right-leaning contenders, of which Stintz is one. After a decade as a city councillor, including three years as TTC chair, she has political experience to match that of any of her rivals.

In her remarks to the press, Stintz has promised to run a campaign focused on, among other things, building the fabled downtown relief subway line, keeping taxes low, and taking a “hybrid” approach to dealing with the crumbling Gardiner Expressway. Here’s what she told us about her campaign during an interview over the weekend.

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The Informer

Toronto Election 2014

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John Tory steals Karen Stintz’s campaign-announcement thunder

Today’s headline was supposed to be all about Karen Stintz, who is due to launch her mayoral campaign at around 10 a.m. But then this happened.

Ever since his unsuccessful run in 2003, the idea of another John Tory mayoral campaign has been the unicorn of Toronto politics: beautiful in concept and fervently believed in by a few, but destined to be unwieldy in reality. Tory semi-publicly toyed with the idea of running against Rob Ford in 2010, only to end up sitting the race out—a result that Ford’s campaign team later took credit for. This time around, we had a similar few months of rumours. Then, a few weeks ago, it was reported that Tory was quietly assembling his campaign team, which was said to include a few former Ford supporters. Finally, last night, several local news sources reported that Tory would officially be registering as a candidate. He finally did it about an hour ago.

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Say hello to Maria Augimeri, your new TTC chair

(Image: Maria Augimeri/Facebook)

(Image: Maria Augimeri/Facebook)

Over the past three years, Torontonians have grown accustomed to thinking of Karen Stintz as the TTC’s chair. Yesterday, though, Stintz made good on her promise to step aside from the role so she can focus on her mayoral campaign (which should be getting underway any minute now). The upshot is that Toronto now has Maria Augimeri as its top transit politician, at least for the time being.

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