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Municipal Election 2014

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If they had a million dollars

mayoral-candidates-million-dollars

In an effort to get something better than the usual promises and platitudes from the current crop of mayoral candidates, we decided to pose a hypothetical situation. In an ideal world where all of Toronto’s most pressing problems—transit, housing and infrastructure, mainly—had already been solved and required no further attention, what would Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz and John Tory do with a million dollars? They could spend this hypothetical million on anything they desired for the city, but they would have to use the full amount. Here’s what they told us.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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The High Cost of Cheap Labour

Union support can be the key to a mayoral victory. Members will put up signs, go door-to-door and get out the vote on election day. They’ll also expect payback come budget time

The High Cost of Cheap Labour

(Images: Firefighters by GetStock; Ford, Chow, Tory by QMI Agency)

Fire Station 424, on ­Runnymede in Bloor West Village, has been slated for closure since before amalgamation. It’s a pointless station, made redundant by three others nearby. Earlier this year, council finally voted to cut it from the budget, but they could not bring themselves to finish the job: they emptied Station 424 of its last remaining fire­fighters and fire truck, and then kept the building. As the local councillor, Sarah Doucette, told the media after the vote, “It will be a fire station without a truck.”

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Police Chief Bill Blair accepts Doug Ford’s apology

tl_ford_now-whatAfter an abortive initial attempt at an apology, earlier this afternoon Doug Ford released a written retraction of his allegedly defamatory statements about Police Chief Bill Blair. The one-page statement says Ford had “no information or basis to suggest” that the chief was personally responsible for leaking news of Rob Ford’s impending subpoena to the media. During a press conference, a reserved (but clearly triumphant) Blair said that he had accepted Ford’s retraction. “The law does not protect lies or the people who tell them,” Blair told reporters. “They must be held accountable.” As part of the settlement, Ford has agreed to pay $1,000 to Covenant House, a charity that deals with homeless youth, where Blair is a board member.

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Rob Ford says he brought Toronto back from a “fiscal cliff,” city manager says “nope”

tl_ford_now-whatRob Ford has taken issue with a new report from the Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance that argues that Toronto’s per-household spending is roughly the same now as it was a decade ago (before Ford was elected), and that the city needs more tax revenue to maintain its services and infrastructure. In a press release issued in response to the report, the mayor, as he has in the past, claimed complete responsibility for the city’s financial stability—or, as the release put it: “The reality is, my administration brought the City of Toronto back from the edge of a fiscal cliff.” In response to that claim, the Sun reports that city manager Joe Pennachetti, Toronto’s top bureaucrat, took a rare rhetorical shot at the mayor during a press conference. “That terminology I do not support,” he said. “We’ve had a double-A credit rating for the last 10 years. We have never been on a fiscal cliff.”

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Police Chief Bill Blair serves Doug Ford with a notice of defamation

tl_ford_now-whatThe Globe reports that police Chief Bill Blair has made good on his threat to pursue legal action against Doug Ford. On Monday night, the soon-to-be-ex chief had his lawyers serve the Ward 2 councillor with a notice of defamation. The notice demands a full retraction of a statement Ford made to reporters after news of Rob Ford’s impending subpoena leaked to the press. The gist of Doug’s allegation was that Blair was responsible for the leak, and that it was somehow “payback.” (For what? He wouldn’t say.) A notice of defamation is a preliminary step towards a lawsuit. Things won’t necessarily escalate if Doug follows his brother’s example and apologizes publicly and at length.

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Q&A: Joe Warmington, the journalist Rob Ford still likes talking to

Joe Warmington in studio at Newstalk 1010, where he hosts a late-evening show. (Image: Claire Foster)

Joe Warmington in studio at Newstalk 1010, where he hosts a late-evening show. (Image: Claire Foster)

When it comes to getting information from mayor Rob Ford, there’s the Sun’s Joe Warmington, and then there’s everybody else. Somehow, the mayor seems to be candid with the veteran columnist, even as he systematically cuts off reporters he doesn’t like. (Remember those times when Ford actually spoke to a reporter from rehab? That reporter was Warmington.) As a result of this rapport, Warmington has been called “Rob Ford’s personal Oprah,” a “go-to mouthpiece” and one of the mayor’s “enablers”—even if his competitors still begrudgingly reprint whatever information he gets. We spoke with Warmington about hate mail, his relationship with the mayor and the ethics of paying for a story.

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Municipal Election 2014

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The latest Forum Research poll has Olivia Chow trailing Rob Ford
(Image: Olivia Chow/Facebook)

(Image: Olivia Chow/Facebook)

The poll, conducted on August 6, shows results markedly different from those of the last one by the same firm, which put the three main contenders in a statistical tie. In a five-way race, this latest survey of 1268 Toronto voters gives Chow 25 per cent of the vote, putting her behind Rob Ford, at 27. John Tory, meanwhile, gets 35 per cent—his biggest advantage in the mayoral race to date. David Soknacki and Karen Stintz, as always, are fighting it out for last place, both of them in a dead heat with a little-known sixth candidate: “Don’t Know/Other.”

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Municipal Election 2014

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David Soknacki does the impossible, by turning the police budget into an election issue
(Image: Soknacki2014.com)

(Image: Soknacki2014.com)

D-Soks is still behind in the polls, but he has just made a valuable—maybe even a very valuable—contribution to the 2014 mayoral campaign: just by opening his mouth, he has turned Toronto’s $1-billion police budget into an election talking point. In a press release issued on Wednesday, Soknacki promises to rein in that budget by at least $65 million per year. For city hall watchers, this is an issue that has long been a source of concern (this handy chart illustrates just how much property-tax revenue TPS gobbles up), but politicians are understandably reluctant to criticize cops, who have a powerful union and a role to play in maintaining order. Even so, this, and not the Ford approach, is how a mayor could save taxpayers real money. If getting other candidates to answer questions about police spending is the only thing Soknacki accomplishes, his whole campaign will have been worthwhile.

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Fringe mayoral candidate Matthew Crack: “I can’t say it isn’t”

“Uh, yeah, I can’t say it isn’t.”

—Long-shot mayoral candidate Matthew Crack, when asked by the Star whether his last name was a factor in his decision to run in this year’s election. “Name recognition is half the battle when you run for politics right now,” he added.

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Watch Rob Ford get coffee with Deadmau5, order “five espressos in one cup”

The video above is 30 minutes’ worth of footage of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, riding in a cat-themed Ferrari with Deadmau5, EDM musician, to get some coffee from a Tim Hortons drive-through. It’s every bit as weird and awkward as that short description would suggest.

There are plenty of people we’d rather have seen Ford locked in a moving vehicle with (like, any member of the city hall press gallery, for instance), but this thing does have its merits. It’s a rare look at what Ford is like when he’s not in campaign mode—when he’s just trying to relax and act like a cool dude. Some standout moments to watch for:

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Municipal Election 2014

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Rob Ford’s new campaign video seemingly breaks campaign rules

tl_ford_now-whatA new Rob Ford campaign video, released on the mayor’s website at some point in the past 24 hours, is earning media notice for a lot more than its handsome photography and soothing soundtrack. The video, which highlights the mayor’s obsessive, sometimes-inappropriate dedication to personally helping individual residents with small problems, appears to have been shot partially in his office at city hall. The candid shots make him look like a real go-getter, but they may also be a violation of the rules. City policy forbids people who are running for office from using city property to promote their candidacies. In the past, when the mayor has committed policy violations (or alleged violations) like this, he hasn’t faced much in the way of consequences.

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Police Chief Bill Blair is out, as of next April

(Image: screenshot from a press conference on November )

(Image: screenshot from a press conference in November )

The Toronto Police Services Board has just announced that it won’t be renewing police chief (and Toronto Life cover model) Bill Blair’s contract, meaning the veteran cop’s last day on the job will be April 25, 2015. Blair’s nine years in the Toronto Police Service’s top spot have not been without controversy. He oversaw the TPS’s response to the 2010 G20 summit, dealt with fallout from revelations about apparent racial profiling by the force and also, perhaps most notably, signed off on an elaborate investigation into Rob Ford’s off-the-books activities. It’s unclear, at this point, whether Blair actually sought a contract extension, or whether the split is mutual.

UPDATE: The Post is now reporting that Blair sought a contract extension, but was denied.

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Municipal Election 2014

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Q&A: Andray Domise, the guy who could actually beat the Fords on their home turf

(Image: Claire Foster)

(Image: Claire Foster)

The Ford family has held north Etobicoke’s city council seat since 2000, when Rob Ford won his first election. This year’s campaign will be a little different, though: Doug Ford, the seat’s current occupant, won’t be running for re-election (instead, he’s focusing his efforts on the mayoral race as his brother’s campaign manager), and the Fords are trying to continue their family dynasty by foisting their 20-year-old nephew Michael on area voters instead. Twelve candidates are trying to stop young Mikey from fulfilling his destiny, including Andray Domise. He might just be the guy to do it. A financial planner born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, he registered as a candidate in April, and has since declared his decidedly un-Fordian views loudly and fearlessly (his Twitter, in particular, is unmissable). We caught up with Domise at Auntie Bell’s in Rexdale—his preferred interviewing venue—to talk about the Fords, racism and spending money on toilets.

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Municipal Election 2014

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Joe Cressy, who lost to Adam Vaughan in a federal by-election, is now going after Vaughan’s former city council seat

The 30-year-old, an NDP operative and activist, failed in his bid to take over for Olivia Chow as Trinity-Spadina’s MP when Vaughan, a two-term councillor, stepped in as the Liberal candidate in June’s by-election. This morning Cressy announced that he’ll be trying, instead, to win Vaughan’s now-vacated seat at city hall, as Trinity-Spadina’s councillor. He joins a crowded field of candidates in Ward 20 (more than two dozen are registered) but his close association with NDP-affiliated political figures like Chow, councillor Mike Layton and former MPP Rosario Marchese makes him a clear front-runner.

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On Toronto’s whiny, cynical attitude toward efforts to improve public transit:

Etobicoke will never see eye to eye with the Annex, needless to say. Yet even among urbane downtown types, you can see the conflict. They want the city to be “world class,” but they cling to bizarre small-town sensibilities for dear life: grace periods on parking tickets, parking on major streets as of 9:00 am, buses that stop for every sprinting would-be passenger. They want an airport link that’s cheap, and that stops eight times along the way so it’s fair to everyone, but also lighting fast. They want a city that runs like clockwork without inconveniencing a single person along the way.

This sober, completely accurate thought is brought to you by the Post’s Chris Selley, whose column in today’s paper is well worth reading all the way through.

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