Who won the week? Olivia Chow
Last week, we said candidates would need to work hard to pull the media’s attention away from Rob Ford. Here’s one good strategy: Be Olivia Chow. The former MP ended months of speculation and launched her mayoral run last Thursday, complete with a slick website and a raucous campaign kick-off in St. James Town.
Compared to the fully formed campaign platform that some were expecting, Chow’s remarks at a post-launch press conference were underwhelming. By any other metric, though, the event was a strong start for the campaign. Chow followed that with a rally in North York on Sunday, ramping up her criticism of Ford, and proving that her speechwriters know how to produce endlessly quotable material. And a recent Forum poll put Chow comfortably ahead of her competitors. It’s not terribly surprising, given her successful launch, but we know a few candidates who would love this kind of momentum.
The timing of Chow’s launch is also notable. Earlier this month, the Star reported that she would declare her candidacy the week of March 17. Assuming the Star’s report was accurate, one reason for the switch could be those new police documents that may be released this week, re-focusing the media’s attention squarely on the mayor’s office.
And who lost? Karen Stintz
Karen Stintz really wants you to know that Chow is a member of the NDP. In a statement on Wednesday, Stintz warned, “Toronto can’t afford to go back to the ways of an NDP mayor.” She also accused Chow of being “a double dipper,” referring to Chow’s days as a school trustee, when she and Jack Layton lived in a housing co-op. On Friday, Stintz attacked Chow on transit, characterizing her support for an LRT in Scarborough as “old-fashioned NDP politics.”
This is a curious strategy, since anyone who supports Chow probably knows she’s a member of the NDP. Another strange move by Stintz’s team: suggesting that Chow’s time representing Toronto constituents in Ottawa is somehow a bad thing. Even if this does scare some centrist voters away from Chow, isn’t it a little early for Stintz to go so negative?
Candidate to Watch: John Campbell, Ward 4 (Etobicoke Centre)
John Campbell would love it if people stopped saying transit expansion could be funded with “revenue tools.”
“That’s just political speak,” Campbell said on Saturday. “It’s ‘taxes.’”
Unlike other politicians who’ve slagged the term as an obvious euphemism, though, Campbell openly supports new taxes and tolls to fund transit.
“I would not be opposed to the province applying a road tax, where the fees were directly going to go towards some sort of targeted…end,” Campbell said. “The money’s not going to just appear out of thin air, and you’re not going to get private partnerships to build subways.”
Campbell would likely support a gasoline tax, provided that the proceeds went directly to roads and mass-transit improvements. (He also believes the city should eliminate the land transfer tax.)
A former school trustee and TDSB chair, Campbell nearly defeated Gloria Lindsay Luby in 2010, losing by just 309 votes. (Lindsay Luby outspent Campbell by about four-to-one.) The Star endorsed Campbell, citing his work at the school board and calling him “a demonstrated leader.”
According to Campbell, the TTC’s top priority should be a downtown relief line, aimed at easing crowding on the Yonge and University lines. He supports the contentious Scarborough subway, too, and believes the tax hike necessary to pay for the line is “negligible.”
As for the local issues, Campbell would push for a new community centre in the ward’s northern section, near Kipling Collegiate. “The city hasn’t really provided the necessary social services for youth and seniors in that area.”
David Soknacki and his team canvassed in Flemingdon Park and spoke with commuters at “the future Lawrence East LRT station.” The candidate will hold an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit today, so get your horse-sized duck questions ready.
Rob Ford visited a Toronto Community Housing building. As a direct result of the mayor’s visit, TCHC’s multi-million dollar repair backlog was virtually eliminated. Just kidding! Have a magnet.
A video shot outside City Hall on Saturday night shows Ford stumbling and swearing. On Sunday, Ford was booed mercilessly at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
John Tory held a press conference alongside Zane Caplansky, where he endorsed/criticized/denounced new food-truck regulations. It didn’t go so hot.
What you might have missed
Workers on the Eglinton Crosstown project may have pumped cement into a sewer line, filling nearby residents’ basements with water.
A website “proudly authorized” by Tory’s campaign reiterates his support for a downtown relief line and a Scarborough subway. Unfortunately, it appears they blew the budget on web design and couldn’t hire a copy editor. (h/t @judemacdonald)
Soknacki proposed that community councils be allowed to set their own service levels, either buying into or opting out of certain services. He also supports ranked ballot voting. There’s more in his policy paper.
“Who’s getting paid to argue on Twitter about the Toronto election?” Canada.com revealed, but Warren Kinsella thinks you’re an asshole for even asking.
And this past weekend, criminal-defence attorney Ari Goldkind announced he is running for mayor.
Bring the ’Paign runs every Monday. Send policy papers, magnets, and unnecessary injections of cement to firstname.lastname@example.org.