With advance voting to begin shortly, the mayoral candidates' debate circuit continues to heat up, with harsh talk as well as requests for certain candidates to be excluded and threats to skip debates entirely. While Forum registers a Doug Ford surge, methodological factors may explain why other polls have disagreed. John Tory, in the lead, remains the target of choice for tough criticism, including his past employment.
While a National Post panel speculates on what issues would be prominent were transit not dominating the campaign, trailing candidates Olivia Chow and Doug Ford have stepped up their criticism of John Tory's rail plan in a week of little news on the transit front.
Crime and Policing
With no public comment until recently from Chief of Police Bill Blair or deputy mayor Norm Kelly on the recent killings in the city's west end, youth crime has nonetheless re-entered the debate, to a limited extent. Olivia Chow has weighed in with the suggestion that her platform's emphasis on child poverty makes her well-suited to address this problem.
While candidate Goldkind rises in profile, he has also become the target of criticism from Doug Ford; this has added a new dimension to this campaign's focus on debate attendance, as Ford's refusal to attend debates from which Goldkind has not been barred has prompted John Tory to say he will not attend debates from which Goldkind has been barred. Meanwhile, confusion over application of the rules regarding debate invitations has caused at least one debate to be cancelled entirely.
Racism and Other Prejudice
The campaign took an ugly and bizarre turn when Doug Ford was asked at a debate to address his brother's past anti-Semitic comments; Ford was booed into silence when he responded with a list of Jewish professionals he employs, including an accountant and doctor, and later defended himself by claiming his wife is Jewish (she does not identify as such, however). Meanwhile, Ford dodged a pointed question regarding his recent comments on children with autism and developmental disabilities, blaming the media for misreporting what he said. Olivia Chow continues to be the recipient of racist as well as sexist heckling and online commentary, while councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam argues that Ford and Tory should be more explicit in denouncing this sort of abuse.
Campaign Grab Bag
A vote on island airport expansion might have to exclude John Tory if he becomes mayor, in order to avoid conflict of interest.
Another lawsuit alleging conflict of interest has been directed at the Fords.
Tory has issued a retraction of an earlier claim that he did not donate to the Fords' respective 2010 campaigns.
Tory's recently-announced housing policy includes a boost in funding to tackle TCHC's repair backlog.
Judy Rebick, Michele Landsberg, Naomi Klein and Deepa Mehta have endorsed Olivia Chow, as have councillors Paula Fletcher, Janet Davis and Sarah Doucette (the former of these specifically in response to the sexism directed at Chow on the campaign trail). Other feminist activists have voiced similar concerns and support for Chow.
The major mayoral candidates offered tentative support for the conclusions of a recent CAMH report that urges the legalisation of marijuana, but in the end all suggested that this is a decision to be taken by the federal government.
The race for Ward 2's council seat involves much more than a referendum on the Ford family.