Weekly Campaign Update, 17 October 2014: Advance Voting Begins

As John Tory appears to draw ahead and stay ahead of Doug Ford in the final stretch, voters have already set a new record for turnout at advance polls. With little time to spare before the election, campaign rhetoric has intensified yet again, with John Tory dubbing Doug Ford "Doug the Divider" and Ford referring in turn to Tory as "Mr. Crispy Clean" while claiming he "come[s] from a Rosedale golf course" and is out of touch. Other campaign attacks and trash talk included Olivia Chow's claim that her mother has been a more trenchant critic of her campaign than the Fords, a new Chow campaign ad that attacks Tory using the well-worn "weathervane" trope, and Doug Ford's comment at a Thursday debate that the council he seeks to lead is a "pack of wolves."

Transit

Olivia Chow directed multiple lines of criticism at John Tory's transit plan this week, arguing that SmartTrack is not feasible and lacks engineering studies showing that heavy rail could be constructed in areas like Mount Dennis and Eglinton Avenue West, then pointing out in a debate that tax-increment financing has never been used in a transit project of this magnitude and is likely to fail. She also argued that the volume of train traffic required for SmartTrack is beyond Union Station's capacity. Media criticism of the candidates' transit plans grew stronger as well, with arguments that Doug Ford's subway plan is "pure fantasy," that the candidates are avoiding discussing car traffic as a main factor in congestion (even as Doug Ford muses about widening the Don Valley Parkway if elected), and that none of the candidates' plans includes any mention of how their operating costs will be paid if they are implemented. Finally, the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale offers an in-depth look at the problems with SmartTrack's proposed financing plan.

Candidate Backgrounds

The National Post offers a profile of John Tory, including the establishment roots and business record Doug Ford has focused on criticising. The Globe and Mail has, meanwhile, published an extensive story on Doug Ford's career at Deco, penned in part by Robyn Doolittle. Ford reacted with a defence of Deco's profitability and proceeded to denounce Tory's business record once more.

More Racism

Ward 2 council candidates Munira Abukar and Andray Domise have discovered that some of their campaign signs have been vandalised with racist graffiti, including "go back home" written on one of Abukar's signs. (Abukar was born in Toronto.) Leading mayoral candidates were quick to condemn the vandalism. Meanwhile, Olivia Chow has released a new campaign ad that incorporates part of her scathing retort to a racially-charged audience question at a recent debate. At a debate specifically regarding racial issues, John Tory caused surprise when he suggested that he does not believe "white privilege" exists.  Finally, John Lorinc argues in Spacing that the abhorrent racism, sexism and homophobia that have tarnished the campaign obscure (and may be related to) a fundamental socioeconomic class cleavage that is not being discussed.

Campaign Grab Bag