Weekly Campaign Update, 12 September 2014: Rob Ford and David Soknacki Out, Doug Ford In

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mayor for another 14 years, Doug Ford has taken his brother's place on the mayoral ballot, and nephew Michael Ford has withdrawn altogether and will run for the position of school trustee.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.

Other Departures

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 Sarah Thomson, too, has withdrawn from the race, choosing instead to join a packed race for a council seat in Ward 20.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."

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