Karen Stintz

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Toronto Election 2014

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Doug Ford accuses Karen Stintz of stealing the mayor’s email contact list

tl_ford_now-whatToday marks the first bizarre criminal accusation of the 2014 mayoral election, as Doug Ford says he has informed police about an alleged contact-list theft by Karen Stintz or someone working for her. According to CP24, Doug, who is managing his brother Rob Ford’s campaign, claims that people on the mayor’s private contact list were recently also contacted by Stintz’s campaign—which, in itself, proves nothing at all. “Someone, and I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but someone has received the information and has given or sold the information to the Karen Stintz campaign,” he told reporters.

Toronto Police have confirmed that they were informed about the matter, but haven’t said whether they plan on investigating, or whether they have already. Stintz has stopped just short of denying the allegation. “We have people supporting Karen who have supported other candidates in the past, and we accept lists that are given to us,” Lauren Souch, the Stintz campaign’s spokesperson, told the Post. Several Twitter users say they recieved unsolicited email from Stintz on Wednesday, so it seems to be true, at least, that she recently obtained some new addresses from somewhere.

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Five things we learned from Spacing’s investigation into the shady politicking behind the Scarborough subway

(Image: Loozrboy)

(Image: Loozrboy)

Over at Spacing, journalist John Lorinc has just published part four in an epic, five-part investigation into why, exactly, the city and the province got together last year to overturn years of transit planning in Scarborough. The now-infamous policy reversal resulted in the breaking of a signed, sealed agreement to replace the Scarborough RT with a seven-stop light-rail line. Instead, for reasons that Lorinc’s investigation makes significantly clearer, former TTC chair (and current mayoral candidate) Karen Stintz and provincial transportation minister Glen Murray teamed up to scrap the light-rail plan in favour of a three-stop subway that will cost significantly more to build.

Here, five things we learned from Lorinc’s piece, the first part of which is here.

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Toronto Election 2014

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Rob Ford’s approval rating appears to be cratering

(Image: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Three weeks in rehab seem to have done what a year of crack-scandal fallout couldn’t: Rob Ford’s approval rating has finally fallen into the low thirties.

The Star reports that a new Forum Research poll conducted on Wednesday pegs Ford’s latest approval rating at 32 per cent, which may seem surprisingly high for a man with the mayor’s track record. It doesn’t seem so impressive, though, when compared with Ford’s past approval ratings, which have hovered around the mid-forties for more than two years, despite everything.

Cause and effect is always difficult to determine in cases like this, but it’s worth pointing out that this is the first time Forum has measured Ford’s approval since the day he announced his leave of absence. It seems likely that the change is related to Ford’s rehab stay (and possibly some of the weird news stories that have come out of it). Could it be that the one thing Ford fans can’t tolerate is an admission of defeat? It will be interesting to see whether future polls bear that notion out.

The poll also measured voter support for the various mayoral candidates. Olivia Chow is still on top with 36 per cent. John Tory has 27, Ford has 24, and David Soknacki and Karen Stintz are still statistical blips.

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Toronto Election 2014

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Karen Stintz thinks changing transit plans is a terrible idea, except when it’s her idea

(Image: Mike Belzner)

(Image: Mike Belzner)

Karen Stintz has spent the past three years upending Toronto’s long-term public-transit planning, for good or ill. As TTC chair, she was instrumental in restoring the Transit City light-rail plan, which Rob Ford had hoped to scuttle. Almost as soon as she’d finished resurrecting light-rail, she put forward an incredibly ambitious new transit plan that ended up going nowhere. Later, she was a key player in the council drama that resulted in the city deciding to scrap a planned light-rail replacement for the Scarborough RT, in favour of a subway line.

That’s three different transit plans in three years for Stintz—a track record that has earned her the disdain of some of Toronto’s transit watchers. And yet now, as a mayoral candidate, Stintz is suddenly trying to position herself as a huge fan of maintaining transit’s status quo—particularly the plan to build the Scarborough subway extension, which fellow mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and David Soknacki have promised to cancel.

Here she is during a presentation for the Women’s Executive Network on May 15, as transcribed by the Star:

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Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week rehab was amazing

Rob Ford is down and out (well, not entirely out), and the other candidates are taking the opportunity to make their own headlines. Even so, the mayor’s weird exile continues to dominate the news cycle.

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.


john-tory-power-rating-1
John Tory is capitalizing on Rob Ford’s absence.

Highlight: While low on specifics, his “One Toronto” economic manifesto, released on Thursday, was full of the type of language that makes conservative hearts beat faster.

Lowlight: In an interview with Spacing, he said he’d delay construction on the Finch West and Sheppard East LRT projects in order to expedite the downtown relief line. That may hurt his reputation with left-leaning voters who have advocated for LRT throughout Rob Ford’s mayoralty, but it does, at least, show that Tory is serious about finding realistic ways of funding new subways—even if it may mean cannibalizing other projects.

Power Rating: Four

Crayola Crayon Colour: Jazzberry Jam

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Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week Rob Ford self-destructed

This week came to a screeching, crack-smoking, ethnic-slur-spewing halt on Wednesday, when the public learned that Rob Ford has spent the past six weeks self-medicating in nightclub bathroom stalls, arguing with Justin Bieber and smoking mysterious substances in strange basement rec rooms. For the other candidates, the mayor’s leave of absence is both a challenge and an opportunity. It frees them from his overbearing influence, but also robs the race of its single most sensational element. Considering that, and the fact that a provincial election will be happening on June 12, mayoral hopefuls may need to work a little harder to keep themselves in the news for the next month or so.

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.


rob-ford-election-roundup-1

Rob Ford was doing surprisingly well for himself until this week, but his personality was bound to catch up with him.

Highlight: There was no part of the past seven days that could be construed as good for him. We tried. Sorry.

Lowlight: At the start of the week, it seemed as though the worst of Ford’s problems would be the city manager’s report that refuted his claim that he has saved taxpayers a billion dollars. Then Wednesday happened. If there’s any precedent for a politician being the target of three incredibly damaging news stories all in the space of a single night, we’re not aware of it. The circumstances that forced Ford into hiding still seem incredible two days later. He’s expected to spend a month in an unspecified treatment facility, but it may not be enough time. It’s early yet, but the polls show him moving into third place.

Power Rating: One

Reading Assignment: Basically anything here.

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Toronto Election 2014

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Olivia Chow promises “up to a billion dollars” for transit in Toronto

Olivia Chow at a transit-related press conference on March 20. (Image: CP24/Screenshot)

Olivia Chow at a transit-related press conference on March 20. (Image: CP24/Screenshot)

At the Toronto Region Board of Trade this afternoon, Olivia Chow unveiled her transit-investment strategy in front of a packed room. There was nothing exciting or unexpected in her speech, but, in a weird way, that’s exactly what was remarkable about it.

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Toronto Election 2014

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Toronto Election 2014 Power Rankings: the week we planted a million trees

This was a relatively quiet week in the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, though turmoil at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation provided a convenient opportunity for all the mayoral hopefuls to pile on Rob Ford.

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.


john-tory-election-power-rankings-week-2
John Tory came on fairly strong this week.

Highlight: On Tuesday, Tory made an environmental-policy announcement. His plan is to double the city’s spending on tree-canopy maintenance over five years, so the city can plant around 380,000 new trees each year. It’s a decent idea in its own right, and it also helps differentiate Tory from Rob Ford, who notably suggested eliminating the city’s current $7 million tree budget. Tory also joined in the general condemnation of Ford’s continued defence of Gene Jones, TCHC’s now-former CEO. “This is just another example of Ford chaos,” Tory said in a news release.

Lowlight: There were some minor attacks on Tory from other candidates, but by and large he seemed to emerge from this week unscathed.

Power Rating: Three

Spirit Animal: Giant tortoise

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Toronto Election 2014 Power Ratings: the week everyone solved gridlock

Gridlock has been the major theme of the campaign for the past few days, with three candidates releasing separate—and not always mutually exclusive—proposals for speeding the flow of traffic through city streets. Who was sensible and who was nonsensical?

Here’s how the candidates stack up this week.


david-soknacki-election-roundup-2

David Soknacki’s campaign is still simmering, but full boil seems a long way off.

Highlight: Soknacki got a much-needed publicity boost from the Globe‘s Marcus Gee, who devoted a full column to burnishing the candidate’s nerdy mystique. Obscurity is the biggest thing Soknacki has going against him, and every press mention helps.

Lowlight: Soknacki has a relatively young campaign team, and so he’s been reasonably successful at harnessing the internet with clever memes. This week, however, there was a minor misfire. Soknacki released a YouTube video in which he reads a portion of a speech from the movie Footloose. It’s supposed to be a sweetly nerdy way of pointing out his disagreement with a ban on EDM shows in city buildings at the Ex, but to anyone who doesn’t already know who he is (so, a ton of people) the video kind of makes him seem like a crazy religious zealot.

Power Rating: Two

Photo-Op of the Week: Soknacki posted a picture of the Triumph TR6 he’s in the process of restoring. Looks like a sweet ride.

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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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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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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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