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."
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.
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.
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
On Thursday, Mayor Rob Ford, who is running for the council seat in Ward 2, was asked to leave a voting station after allegedly campaigning illegally inside the facility.
Two of the staff at Mount Sinai Hospital are revealed to have gained inappropriate access to Mayor Ford's medical records.
Doug Ford has promised to donate the entirety of his mayoral salary to charity if elected.
Local brewery Beau's has announced it will provide free beer for voters in Ward 19, offering coupons for one free bottle of a special election brew that can be redeemed at designated local bars.
While John Tory argues that spending should begin at the municipal level (in order to "shame" the provincial and federal governments into contributing their shares) on the TCHC's repair backlog, Olivia Chow points out that this has already happened. Doug Ford has claimed that addressing the needed repairs is a top priority.
In Ward 17 (Davenport), long-time rivals Alejandra Bravo and Cesar Palacio are competing once again, whereas in Ward 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), there is no incumbent and all candidates are first-timers.
Without offering an endorsement, the Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee suggests that Olivia Chow may be the most fiscally-responsible of the major candidates.
Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has endorsed John Tory. Both Olivia Chow and Doug Ford were critical of the endorsement. Meanwhile, the National Post's Robyn Urback suggests Ford's 2010 endorsement by John Tory has long since expired.
Torontoist magazine has endorsed Andray Domise in Ward 2.
With strategic considerations a factor in vote choice, Toronto Election Study investigator and University of Western Ontario Professor Laura Stephenson comments on the likelihood of strategic voting in this election.