Who won the week? Rob Ford, for throwing a mostly-successful going-away party campaign kick-off
Rob Ford ramped up his mayoral campaign at the Toronto Congress Centre last Thursday night, where he thanked the people who stood by him during (ahem) “rocky moments,” and avoided any explicit reference to his drug use and criminal connections.
“I owe the people of Toronto a great, great debt of gratitude,” Ford told cheering supporters. “You are the salt of the earth.”
Ford has been campaigning for re-election almost as long as he’s been in office, and Thursday’s event was a reminder that he is much better at running for mayor than he is at actually being the mayor. After entering the airplane hangar-sized venue escorted by four bagpipers, security guards, and a human pyramid of his nieces, Ford delivered a passionate speech filled with familiar talking points and jabs at unnamed detractors.
“I get up every day thinking about you, the taxpayers,” Ford said. “And no matter what mud is thrown at me, no matter what they say, I don’t let them stop me from serving you day in and day out.”
The mayor, whose six-figure salary is a matter of public record, said he would continue to fight the city’s “elitists” and “special interests.”
“The people of Toronto know that I am just like them,” said Ford, who has been targeted in a long and complex police investigation.
The launch featured plenty of flashy props, suggesting that, for now at least, Ford’s campaign has both organization and money. There was soft serve-ice cream and a fire truck emblazoned with the mayor’s billion-dollar lie. Large screens that flanked the stage showed pictures of Ford shaking hands with Stephen Harper and hanging out with Drake.
The massive but half-full room was proof of Ford’s loyal base, but also of his team’s overconfidence. Many people spent more time waiting to purchase bobbleheads than they did listening to Ford’s speech. And aside from Ford’s brother Doug, only three councillors—John Filion, Vincent Crisanti, and Cesar Palacio—turned up to the launch. Filion said he was there to look for two candidates opposing him for re-election, and only Crisanti actually joined the mayor on stage.
And who lost? John Tory
John Tory released his “Fighting Gridlock Initiative” last week. The plan, along with Tory’s other proposals for transportation, features a few head-scratchers.
-Tory wants to kill EglintonConnects, which would add wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes to the busy street. The project is intended to complement the Crosstown LRT, by taking space that will no longer be needed for buses and reallocating it to pedestrians and cyclists. City staff have said that the new LRT will be able to carry the equivalent of seven to 10 lanes of car traffic, but Tory’s campaign says that by reducing the number of lanes devoted to motor vehicles, Connects would “increase traffic congestion.”
-Tory wants to maintain the Gardiner, and says he will not support any proposal to fix the aging expressway that would increase commute times. Maintaining or improving any road without impacting drivers is impossible.
-Does Tory support the Scarborough subway on merit, or simply because re-opening the debate could delay other transit projects? In response to this question from The Grid last Monday, Tory answered, “Both.” But the candidate has yet to fully explain why the subway is actually superior to the LRT that council originally approved.
And now, a compilation of the frontrunners’ non-answers on revenue tools taxes to pay for public transportation
“I think it’s prudent, in light of the premier’s speech today, and in light of a budget that’s forthcoming, to see what the facts are before you finalize your plan. But I will put it forward in the coming weeks after those two things in particular are in front of us.”—John Tory, April 14, press conference
“[Kathleen Wynne] has taken them off the table. No longer the debate. The debate should be how do federal and [provincial] governments invest in cities, which are economic engines.”—Olivia Chow, April 9, in a live chat with the Toronto Star
[Gagging noises]—Rob Ford, April 2, press conference
Olivia Chow canvassed deep inside Ford country. She also brought her subtle spring-time messaging to the Good Friday procession. Rob Ford, Karen Stintz, and John Tory also attended.
Ford upstaged Frank Di Giorgio at the councillor’s community environment day.
David Soknacki attended a talk by Nate Silver, the statistician best known for his incredibly accurate election predictions. Soknacki also tuned up his bike at the Brick Works.
What you might have missed
Like Tory, Chow announced her own plan to fight gridlock. The Star breaks down both plans here.
The paper also says just three mayoral candidates deserve your trust on public transit: Chow, Soknacki, and Tory.
Adam Vaughan will run for the federal Liberals in an upcoming by-election in Chow’s former riding.
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