This new Forum Research poll, conducted on October 20, gives John Tory his biggest lead over Doug Ford to date. What’s more, the automated phone survey of 847 Torontonians included responses only from likely voters, or from people who had already voted at one of the city’s advance polling stations. That, plus the fact that the election is only five days away (!!!), makes these results marginally more trustworthy than those of previous polls. No pre-election poll should ever be taken at face value, but Tory’s camp has to be feeling confident, regardless.
After dozens of mayoral debates, the gruelling campaign season is finally coming to a close as Monday’s election approaches. (CityNews’s October 23 debate is being billed as “the final showdown.”) Yesterday night, the candidates gathered at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management for one of their last major head-to-head clashes, in an event co-sponsored by the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Toronto Star. Things were generally high-minded (it was a Star debate, after all), but there was some shouting and crosstalk, and by closing statements the whole discussion had come a little unhinged. Here, four things we learned from all the heated banter.
—The percentage of respondents to a poll by political consultancy Mainstreet Technologies who said that they would be voting for Brampton mayor Susan Fennell, whose habit of spending her taxpayer-funded office budget on things like car service and expensive plane tickets has made her a focal point of controversy. Fennell’s competitor Linda Jeffrey appears poised to win Monday’s election. Mainstreet puts her support at 34 per cent.
Reports of Rob Ford being kicked out of an advance polling station began making the rounds on Friday, and now we know that the incident wasn’t an isolated one. The Star says that Ford has been asked to leave at least two other advance voting locations. On Saturday, the city clerk sent him a stern letter reminding him that attempting to influence voters at polling stations is illegal. Later that same day, he made one of his visits, at which point, the Star says, he “ignored an election official’s requests for him to leave.” All of these incidents took place outside Ward 2, where Ford is running for city council. It’s not clear why he keeps making these appearances, but the Sun’s article on the subject suggests an explanation: he has apparently been driving voters to the polls in his own car.
Back in May, Olivia Chow made a proposal that she continues to tout at debates and other publicity stops. Her idea is to use community benefit agreements (or CBAs) to require companies that take on major city infrastructure contracts to hire local youth—a measure Chow says will help create 5,000 new jobs and apprenticeships for young Torontonians over four years. “One out of five young people can’t find a job,” Chow said at a press conference. “It’s demoralizing. They don’t have their first job, they can’t get experience, and then they can’t land a new job. It’s a vicious cycle.”
WOULD IT WORK?
Community benefit agreements, in a general sense, already do. They’ve been used in the U.K., Los Angeles, Vancouver (for the Olympic Village) and even Toronto. As part of the Regent Park revitalization, the city partnered with Toronto Community Housing and the area’s developer, Daniels Corporation, to design a hiring program that created nearly 500 jobs for local residents. “It’s a useful and successful model,” says Steve Shallhorn, executive director of the Labour Education Centre, a nonprofit training organization that advocates for CBAs. “There are lessons learned from Regent Park that could be applied to future community benefit agreements in Toronto.”
Rob Ford, who is no fan of the many rules that govern politicians’ behaviour during election periods, was, according to the Globe, asked to leave one of the city’s advance polling stations on Thursday for speaking to voters there and taking pictures with them. The reason election officials took the ailing mayor’s visit so seriously is that the Municipal Elections Act forbids politicians from campaigning in any voting location. (Specifically, the act says that “no person shall attempt, directly or indirectly, to influence how [an] elector votes” while they’re in or near a voting place.) Jeff Silverstein, spokesperson for Doug Ford’s campaign, told the Globe that Rob was “not doing anything inappropriate.”
No surprises here: like a dozen other polls before it, this survey of 2,265 Torontonians by political consultancy Mainstreet Technologies puts John Tory in the lead. Like the most recent Forum Research poll, this one gives Tory a healthy margin of victory, meaning we can now be at least somewhat certain that the one poll that showed Doug Ford pulling ahead was a statistical blip. With only a little more than a week to go before election day, we’re at the point where these things should (emphasis on should) be getting a little more predictive of the actual outcome. That’s bad news for Olivia Chow, who’s still bringing up the rear.
—The maximum amount of revenue that could be generated through tax increment financing (also known as TIF) for John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan, according to an analysis prepared on behalf of the Olivia Chow campaign by economist and electricity-sector consultant Mitchell Rothman. While that number sounds high, it’s significantly lower than the $2.5 billion that Tory’s campaign has claimed the financing scheme—which is essentially a way of borrowing against future tax revenues—could be used to raise. The feasibility of Tory’s whole funding model hangs on the difference between those two numbers.
Doug Ford is warming up his final pre-election charm offensive. The mayoral candidate gave a sit-down interview to CityNews yesterday and another to CP24 today. This wouldn’t be so remarkable were it not for the fact that his wife, Karla, who has never been interviewed formally before, was sitting next to him both times. Ford clearly chose his interviewers well. Topics ranged from his art collection (“It’s beautiful, some of the pictures,” Ford said), to what a great father he is, to his love of chocolate milk. The toughest moment for the Fords came during the CityNews interview, when reporter Avery Haines asked Karla about Doug’s claim that she is Jewish. Karla insisted that her heritage is Jewish, but that she personally is not observant. “I don’t practice Judism,” she said, misprounouncing the word “Judaism.”
With less than two weeks remaining before election day, Toronto’s frantic debate schedule shows no signs of slowing down. The majority of these events are hosted by various associations and community groups, but, on Wednesday, Newstalk 1010 held one of the season’s few media-hosted debates. Radio personality Ryan Doyle gave the candidates a better-than-average grilling, and—somewhat amazingly—police officers didn’t have to maintain order, and nobody offended any religious groups. Here, five things we learned from the proceedings.
This latest Forum Research poll, conducted with input from 1241 Toronto residents on October 15, shows results consistent with those of other polls released since August. John Tory has a comfortable lead over Doug Ford, and Olivia Chow still trails with less than a quarter of the vote. Although none of this is particularly surprising, it’s nevertheless a huge departure from last week’s Forum poll, which put Ford and Tory in a virtual tie. Pollsters usually qualify their results by saying that they’re “considered accurate 19 times out of 20.” That previous poll may just have been number 20.
—The number of people who voted on Tuesday, the first of six days of advance polling for the 2014 municipal election. The city is touting this as the highest first-day advance-polling turnout ever—which it is, by far. (The entire weekday turnout during 2010’s advance polling was about 16,000.) This year’s number may be a little inflated, though, because the city is running many times more weekday polling stations than it did during the last election.
—The percentage of city council candidates running in the 2014 election who don’t live in the wards they hope to represent, according to an analysis by Everycandidate.org. That group includes 12 incumbents.
This morning, Doug Ford gathered reporters for what he said would be an endorsement announcement. Except, there was no announcement. The entire purpose of the press conference, the CBC reports, was to give Ford an opportunity to denounce the very concept of political endorsements. “This is a political election and some people want to make it about political endorsements,” he said. (“Political,” in Fordspeak, is an insult word on par with “fascist.”) Ford also took the opportunity to taunt John Tory for supporting him and his brother in the 2010 election. And so, the one major mayoral candidate with no high-profile endorsements is also the one who is philosophically opposed to them. Convenient!
Sartorially speaking, Olivia Chow has the edge this election season. Fashion is one of her shrewdest political weapons: she goes all out to stand out, dressing the part at every event she attends. Over the years, that’s meant Starfleet uniforms for Trekkie conventions, bedazzled bustiers for Caribana, traditional Punjabi dress for South Asian festivals and rainbow headdresses for Pride. When it comes to seducing voters, no fashion crime is too risky. Here, a look at her most outrageous, ingratiating ensembles.