In March of this year I had a job interview with a well known political consulting group. I must say despite not being hired I immensely enjoyed the interview. One of the questions I was asked, other than my response to a zombie apocalypse, was what I thought the main issue facing Toronto in the municipal election was. Without hesitation I told them it was Rob Ford himself. In retrospect I have to say it’s one of those moments I wish I was wrong.
Generally, like most of us, I enjoy being right. For example, at the outset of the provincial election here in Ontario I predicted a majority government for Kathleen Wynne. To indulge momentarily in the sinfully smug pleasure that comes with being right feels good, unless you wish you weren’t. This is one of those times
I wish this election was not about Rob Ford. I strongly believed we deserved better after all Toronto has endured. I wanted an election about transit, infrastructure, and building up not only our city but our people as well. While there were attempts, the bright lights of the Ford Family Circus cast a shadow over every other issue.
Doug Ford is a rookie councillor who couldn’t tell the truth if you asked him the time. He has no accomplishments to point to, even his corrupt meddling on Deco clients’ behalf usually fell flat. Rob Ford, Doug’s biggest supporter, is a substance, staff, and public trust abusing halfwit with gang ties and he was considered a more viable candidate than Doug. Yet Doug still polls in second place because he is one answer to the true ballot question. Ford more years?
At this point John Tory appears to be the other answer. Tory’s platform is not overly detailed, and it’s showcased piece Smart Track leaves many questions. It doesn’t matter, when he took over first in the polls the “Anyone But Ford” vote went with him and he hasn’t looked back.
Olivia Chow offered a much more detailed platform, but that’s not what had her in first place at the outset. Their politics being further apart than Ford’s relationship with truth, she was considered the best candidate to beat Ford. An inoculation of both experience and compassion against the diseased politics of Rob Ford and the vile infection he gave Toronto’s civic space.
The first hint of a pause in her numbers though and polls began to shift to Tory. From third place she attacked Tory’s policy, with good reasons. He was the front runner, and his platform wasn’t as strong as her own in several areas. Unfortunately, typical strategy didn’t work in an election that was anything but.
Her criticisms of Tory often put her in step with Ford’s. It’s hard to claim you’re the only one to stop Ford when he spends so much time agreeing with you. Attempts to paint Tory and Ford as one in the same fell flat because anyone in possession of most of their faculties could see a clear difference between the two.
After four years few would believe happened if we had not lived them, this has been an almost fittingly strange election. This may not have been the campaign our city deserved, but if Ford’s politics lose tonight it will certainly be the result we did.
If Tory’s mayoralty is less successful than his campaign promises he will still provide welcome relief. Forgive Toronto if we turn a blind eye to his flaws after becoming so well acquainted with those of his predecessor.
After waiting four years for someone to deliver us from Ford, Toronto voters can’t be faulted for wanting nothing more from a candidate than that.