The campaign was shaken up by departures this week, first Sarah Thompson and David Soknacki and then Rob Ford, who withdrew from the mayoral race following his admission to Humber River Regional Hospital with a suspected abdominal tumour. In the wake of this stunning change in the campaign, mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory continue to do battle over competing transit visions and how to pay for them.
Mayor Ford's Health
It came down to the wire, as the Ford family, shaken by the news of Rob's newly-discovered tumour, rearranged its candidacies with minutes to go before the nomination deadline. Mayor Rob Ford is off the mayoral ballot and running for council in Ward 2, less than a week after he boasted he would be mayor for another 14 years, Doug Ford has taken his brother's place on the mayoral ballot, and nephew Michael Ford has withdrawn altogether and will run for the position of school trustee. Other candidates immediately offered their support for the Mayor and his family once the diagnosis became public.
On Tuesday evening, a mere 24 hours before news of Rob Ford's health began to dominate the headlines, David Soknacki, citing an inability to increase his support sufficiently, announced his exit from the race. He subsequently stated that a cat would make a better mayor than Rob Ford, though it should be noted this comment was made well before news of Ford's illness broke. He has since been praised for his honesty and his injection of ideas into the campaign. Sarah Thomson, too, has withdrawn from the race, choosing instead to join a packed race for a council seat in Ward 20.
Chow vs. Tory
While John Tory appears to be busily solidifying his lead at the expense of Olivia Chow, the campaign has changed and both candidates know it. Chow is battling to stay in the campaign against a surging Tory, but Rob Ford's replacement by his brother dramatically alters the race; councillor Joe Mihevc suggests this change could give Chow the win. Chow, potentially hurt by her advocacy of light rail for Scarborough instead of subways, has pointedly criticised the practical and financial aspects of Tory's transit plan, forcing Tory to concede that the SmartTrack plan, touted as an above-ground solution, may actually require some tunnelling. Debates on Monday and Friday were filled with Chow and Tory continuing to spar over transit. Chow's recent radio ads focus on advocating change "now."
Campaign Grab Bag
Former Ford staffer Mark Towhey announced a tell-all book detailing his time working in the mayor's office; the announcement was made before Ford's health issues became public, as was the announcement of Star reporter Robyn Doolittle's second Ford book, this one detailing the second video of the mayor using illegal drugs and the subsequent decision of the mayor to attend rehab.
The (latest) ongoing conflict of interest investigation involving Mayor Ford has discovered that the mayor's office asked city staff to consider using the municipality's power of land expropriation to help a client of the Ford family business.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade's director, Carol Wilding, advocates "depoliticising" Metrolinx and regional transit planning; the Board's recent report argues that the TTC and other municipal transit agencies in the region should potentially be merged.
Toronto's parks repair backlog has a price tag of $309 million and may grow by another $50 million over the course of the next mayoral term.
John Tory has not determined what he will do with his business holdings if elected, and is looking to examples set by other politicians.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart has endorsed Olivia Chow, while former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson endorsed Rob Ford, calling him the best mayor in the city's history. Tyson subsequently provided an interview to cable news channel CP24 in which he swore at interviewer Nathan Downer after being questioned about his sexual assault convictions. Former MP and past mayoral hopeful John Nunziata has entered the council race and endorsed the Ford campaign.
Candidates are split on the prospect of introducing preferential balloting (also called instant runoff or Alternative Vote); of the remaining candidates, Chow supports it while Tory opposes it. The Ford campaign (led by Rob at the time of the article's publication) did not provide a position.