—Paul Benoit, who entered Rob Ford’s Scarborough campaign office on Wednesday wearing an oversized rubber Ford mask and carrying a camera, during an interview with the Star. Benoit’s swift, forcible ejection from the office resulted in criminal charges against a Ford-campaign volunteer named William Byers.
Paul Benoit: “I think every single person in Toronto that wants Rob Ford to resign owes me a Heineken”
John Tory: “The last time he had conversations with any of these people was about five Jimmy Kimmel shows ago.”
—John Tory, as quoted in the Post. The mayoral candidate was reacting to yesterday’s unveiling of Rob Ford’s embarrassingly threadbare transit platform, which proposes using money from higher levels of government, among other unlikely sources of cash, to fund a subway-tunnelling spree throughout the city.
The details aren’t totally clear, but the Sun reports that William Byers, a 60-year-old Rob Ford campaign volunteer, has been charged with one count each of assault, mischief and theft after a scuffle with a guy in an oversized rubber Ford mask at Ford’s Scarborough campaign office on Wednesday afternoon. The masked man, Paul Benoit of Oakville, evidently walked into the office holding a camera. In a video presumably captured by that camera, he can be heard saying: “So, now it’s time to have some real fun. We’re going to walk into Rob Ford’s office, and, uh, we’re just going to see what everyone has to say about voting for ‘me.’” The shit-disturbing experiment ends all of ten seconds later when a campaign worker (presumably Byers) physically hauls Benoit back out the door. At the end of the clip, the camera seems to hit pavement.
With Olivia Chow’s numbers softening, Toronto’s mayoral race has been in need of a new frontrunner. Now, courtesy of a new Nanos Research poll conducted on behalf of CTV and the Globe, it may actually have one: John Tory. The former radio host and ex-Ontario PC leader has been polling increasingly well lately, but this latest survey of 1,000 voters is the first to give him a decisive lead over both Chow and Rob Ford. This poll is also notable for being one of only a handful not to have been conducted by Forum Research, which isn’t to say that Forum isn’t credible. It’s nice to have a little independent corroboration of these shifts in voter intention, is all. The results shown above are among decided voters only. The Globe says 17 per cent of respondents were undecided.
Toronto is mired in an affordable-housing crisis. As of June, almost 170,000 people were waiting for a place in some form of subsidized housing. If that weren’t enough, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s repair backlog is now estimated at $914 million, and the amount of capital funding needed over the next decade has been pegged at $2.6 billion. In July, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow offered a solution she says will help bridge the widening housing gap: as mayor, she would ask developers to voluntarily set aside 20 percent of new residential tower developments for low-income renters, creating around 15,000 new, affordable units over four years. Chow says she would defer development charges on the affordable units for 10 years, or longer if the properties stay accessible to low-income renters (lest developers snap up the promised benefits and hike the rent), saving builders almost $12,000 per one-bedroom unit. Developers that improve existing tower sites would get different kinds of incentives too.
WOULD IT WORK?
In cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco, there are what are known as “inclusionary zoning” rules—bylaws, often mandatory ones, that try to engineer roughly what Chow is proposing. In essence, inclusionary zoning tells developers to allocate a certain percentage of new residential units to moderate- or low-income people. In New York City, newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to implement mandatory inclusionary zoning.
—The new maximum fine for distracted driving, under a proposed law expected to be introduced at Queen’s Park sometime after October 20, according to the Star. (Offenders would also get demerit points.) This is the provincial government’s second attempt at introducing these changes, after a first try stalled in the legislature earlier this year. Current fines for texting at the wheel go as high as $500.
Comedian and writer Jeremy Woodcock doesn’t normally cover municipal politics. Even so, we sent him to Thursday night’s “Heritage Matters” debate, which somewhat inconveniently turned out to be the least comedic debate of the mayoral campaign to this point. Jeremy sent us his notes. Here they are:
Here I am at the “Heritage Matters” debate, being put on by Heritage Toronto. Rob Ford pulled out at the last minute to host a $300-a-plate fundraiser; I estimate that will make this debate at least 75 per cent less combative and dramatic. Karen Stintz pulled out when she withdrew from the race the morning of the debate; I estimate that will make this debate much the same as it would have been otherwise. Olivia Chow, David Soknacki, and John Tory remain. And so we begin.
–Karen Stintz, speaking to the Post shortly after her exit from the mayoral race on Thursday. If Stintz’s campaign for the soon-to-be-available commissioner job is successful, she’ll have something in common with her mayoral rival, John Tory: he was the head of the CFL for a few years in the nineties.
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.
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
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.”
After 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.
Rob 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.”