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Here's a Handy, Totally Unbiased Look At Toronto's Mayoral Candidates

Not sure who to vote for in the Toronto Mayoral Election on October 27? We don't blame you. And that's why John Semley is here to tell you how to handle things next week.
Toronto, CA
October 24, 2014, 3:50pm

The frontrunners for Toronto's new mayor, via Twitter.
Not sure who to vote for in the Toronto Mayoral Election on October 27?

Who can blame you, guy?! There are three whole candidates competing at a serious level, each of whom has at least one major policy point which may impact your life. To give you a sense of who’s offering what, here’s a handy, totally unbiased, election scorecard. It includes the main,

non-joke candidates: Doug Ford, John Tory, and Olivia Chow. We’ve also taken a look at the cool-guy decision of showing up on Election Day only to spoil the ballot.

There's nothing alarming about this smile. Nope. Nothing at all. Image via Facebook.
DOUG FORD Like his brother, Doug Ford sees himself as the inheritor to some totally spurious Ontario political legacy—a kind of blue collar Camelot—because his dad was a backbench MPP for the Harris government and ran a semi-successful sticker company. Unlike his brother, Doug Ford doesn’t even seem to like people at all. He lies as if it’s a metabolic function. There’s never been a more unconvincing smile in the history of Canadian politics. “Folks.”


Standout policies: A powerful business man and adhesive paper impresario, Doug Ford’s big thing is “putting taxpayer’s first.” He regards citizens as clients transacting business with Toronto, instead of human beings living here who view the city as something other than a line item impacting our own bottom-line. He wants to run the city like a business, even though reports suggest he is shitty at running his own business. He wants to cut the number of city councilors, which would be a good idea if he, and his maybe-to-be-reelected-as-councilor brother, were among those cuts.

Sloganeering:  DoFo’s new big thing is asking, “What’s the story Mr. Tory?” as a way of implying that front-runner John Tory has some hidden agenda. And also because “story” rhymes with “Tory.” Here are some more words that rhyme with Tory: gory, Corey, allegory, Montessori… Character: The main thing Doug Ford has going for him is that he’s the Ford who’s not Rob Ford. Or Kathy Ford. Or that cowboy-hat-wearing other brother Ford, who looks sort of like Neil Young if Neil Young was allergic to bees and then got stung by thousands of bees.

Chances: In a world with a God, the universe would collapse into itself before another Ford becomes mayor of Toronto. But, as we live in just one of the tens of thousands of solitary, huddled human enclaves burrowed into a piece of rock adrift in a cruel, uncaring, throwaway universe spinning ever outward into the inky nothingness, whose pitilessness has no outer periphery, he will probably win in a landslide, securing 100% of the vote.

Johnny Toronto, via Facebook.


John Tory denies that white privilege exists, but it’s kind of hard to blame him for this. It’s like that joke about a fish being asked, “How’s the water?” and then responding, “What’s water?” John Tory is a beige wash of compromise, neither progressive enough to satisfy progressive types, nor bull-headed and overweight enough to satisfy Ford Nation types. The best that can be said for John Tory, as my girlfriend put it when she happened upon him at Dundas West Fest this summer—where he was walking around, without an entourage, looking charmingly confused and ill-at-ease among the hungover throng—is that he’s clean.

Standout policies: The lynchpin of Tory’s platform is his transit plan, called SmartTrack. It’s so instrumental to his campaign that it even appears on his yard signs. The message seems clear: voting for John Tory is voting for SmartTrack. In an admittedly desperate Hail Mary play, rival candidate Olivia Chow recently tried to debunk SmartTrack’s feasibility by scribbling it on the back of a napkin during debate. Others have been more exhaustive, poking substantial holes in the plan. So the question is essentially reducible to this: if John Tory is SmartTrack, and SmartTrack is a poor, impractical plan (more like…DumbTrack), then isn’t voting for John Tory stupid?

Sloganeering: Doug Ford likes to accuse John Tory as being born into privilege, which is pretty rich coming from Doug Ford, who is also a rich millionaire. Tory’s real privilege—beyond, you know, all that privilege—is the conspicuous “TO” in his name, which he’s been highlighting as a way of suggesting how he’ll bring candidates TOgether. Diabolical. From a name-recognition standpoint, he might as well be called Johnny Toronto or Mr. Mayorman. Character: John Tory is the pair of pleated Bermuda board shorts your dad was wearing when he clamoured down the stairs to intercept a Hawaiian pizza and mortify you in front of your best friend when you were 13. He’s the dad’s dad: the daddish dadderman to out-dad all other daddies. The kind of dad who dresses in the billowy windbreakers he got for free in a case of golf balls. And speaking of golf, he recently—recentlysaid that women should learn to play golf if they want to make more money. Maybe he should learn to play a game called: shutting up.


Chances: When it comes to politics, John Tory is a career loser. But all the polls suggest he’ll win. But if people don’t follow the polls then he’ll lose. Which leads me to the conclusion that John Tory will either win or not-win the election.

The hopelessly earnest candidate, via Facebook.


If John Tory is Toronto’s prospective new dad, then Olivia Chow is its weird aunt: the one who always gave you itchy hand-made sweaters or super-chewy organic baked goods for your birthday. She’s kind of embarrassing in her sincerity, but you know she means well.  Standout policies: Tellingly, Olivia Chow is a vocal supporter of ranked balloting, a system that allows voters to order their political preferences, and a system that would likely benefit candidates like Chow. She also supports a ban on the racist practice of police carding, and 15,000 new affordable housing units. Her transit plan—which relies on increased bus service—may not be especially sexy. But unlike John Tory’s, it seems actually reasonable. And unlike Ford’s, it’s not just her screaming “Subways, subways, subways, folks!” as if it means anything.

Sloganeering: Chow’s initial slogan, back when she was the front-runner, was the punchy “New Mayor, New City.” It was sort of made irrelevant when Rob Ford ducked out of the race, and was replaced recently with “Working with you and for you.” Like a lot of things that come out of Chow’s camp, it’s hopelessly earnest, but darn it if it isn’t nice. Character: Granted, until the last few weeks her campaign has been a disaster, and we all watched with shame and horror as she squandered her early lead. Some people maybe even jumped ship to Team Soknacki. But to Chow’s credit, she alienated her base by playing to the centre, and trying to bait bottom-line-oriented Ford Nation types by basically talking like Rob Ford. Ever since she stopped all the citizens-as-taxpayers talk, she's seemed a lot more like herself.


Chances: Look: according to the polls, admittedly not great. Still, plenty of people are making the case for Chow, and it’s easy to feel like if all the so-called “progressives” who are voting for John Tory because his last name isn’t “Ford” swung back left, Chow could still bound ahead and take this thing. And just think of how nice it would be if Olivia Chow won.

Imagine waking up on October 28 in Olivia Chow’s Toronto, a place predicated on ideas like inclusion instead of division, or just straight-up madness. It’d be like in a disaster movie when the hurricane or Godzilla or whatever leaves town, and everyone puts on gardening gloves and starts sifting through the rubble and twisted metal, bruised and bloodied but warmed by the knowledge that a new day has dawned. Then, like, a tiny deer gambols through the debris, and everyone knows everything will be OK.


Image via WikIMedia Commons.
Character: Spoiling your ballot is a hot, new voting alternative endorsed by morons who think that they’re “sending a message” to governments that no candidates speak to them, as if there would ever be a mayoral candidate whose platform would be coming over whenever you wanted to allow you to own him at Halo, while providing all the weed and Red Stripe. Standout policies: Literally none. It’s like wiping your ass with the ballot. Except at least if you wiped your ass with the ballot, you’d have a clean asshole to show for it. Sloganeering: Again, nothing. But “spoil your ballot!” is basically short-hand for “I am an apathetic piece of trash who thinks I’m smarter than everyone ‘cause I got a 71% in OAC Calculus, and I do now, or have at one point, owned a TAKE ME TO YOUR DEALER black-light poster.”

Chances: If you spoil your ballot, the chances that you are a total loser approach 100 percent.