Weekly Campaign Update, 22 August 2014: Karen Stintz Bows Out, Warren Kinsella Raises Eyebrows

Another week has seen the shape of the campaign change dramatically, as a major candidate has left the race, potential litigation between the outgoing Chief of Police and the mayor's brother has been avoided, and controversy has erupted over terminology used by a Chow campaign staffer.

Karen Stintz

Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz, mere days after having released a six-point economic plan, has withdrawn from the mayoral race entirely as of Thursday morning citing financial considerations, and will not be seeking re-election to her council seat either. Stintz did not endorse any of the remaining candidates upon announcing her withdrawal, though Mayor Ford has declared his confidence that her supporters will join his camp. The other major candidates provided statements thanking her for her candidacy shortly afterwards. Subsequently, Stintz revealed that she would seek a position as commissioner of the CFL. Friday afternoon, several of her main advisers threw their support to the Tory campaign. Finally, David Soknacki suggested that he, too, is running a campaign on comparatively little funding.

Toronto Police Service

While last week's most high-profile story involving the police concerned Chief Bill Blair's intent to take legal action against councillor Doug Ford for defamation, this week has seen the situation reach an apparent resolution, as Blair accepted an unequivocal apology from Ford and announced that he would not pursue litigation any further. Meanwhile, the Toronto Police Services Board continues the process of finding a successor to Blair, whose tenure as chief will not be renewed when it expires next year. Mayor Ford suggested the new chief would need to find "efficiencies," echoing the tone of reports suggesting that the costs of policing the city are too high; the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) suggested that the costs of providing police and fire services to municipalities in the province are currently "unsustainable."

Transit

On Sunday, Olivia Chow presented her plan for transit, defending it in a special op-ed column in the Toronto Sun that same day. Also on Sunday, the TTC considered, then endorsed a new service plan that would then be presented to city council for approval. While Olivia Chow, David Soknacki and Karen Stintz were receptive to the plan, John Tory was critical, calling the plan "irresponsible" because it did not include a plan to pay for service improvements; Stintz retorted that this is typical procedure for the TTC, and that council has the final say. Mayor Ford offered some support for the plan, but balked at the potential costs of honour-system boarding for streetcars, and subsequently pledged to improve service without making any new hires. Meanwhile, councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) criticised the way in which the plan was unveiled, suggesting that the TTC's board of directors, of which he is a member, is asked to do little more than rubber-stamp reports produced by the TTC's bureaucracy.

Toronto human rights lawyer David Lepofsky has pointed out in a letter to Metrolinx that centre platforms, as planned for the Eglinton LRT, are inaccessible and potentially dangerous for blind riders, who do not have a wall to stand against while waiting for the train to stop moving. Elsewhere, delays in constructing the subway extension to Vaughan may stem from a TTC lawsuit filed over missed deadlines against a company on contract to build one of the new stations. Councillors Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul's) and Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) have both argued that the cost per ride of the new rail link between Union Station and Pearson International Airport, currently projected at between $20 and $30, is unaffordable for many Torontonians who will need to use it. Downtown, the new second platform at Union Station made its debut last Monday, to the confusion of some riders. Finally, Globe transit reporter Oliver Moore offered a perspective on commuting by kayak.

"Segregation" and Warren Kinsella

Pundit Warren Kinsella, who last week published and subsequently removed a post condemning John Tory as "the Conservative Party's candidate for mayor," has sparked fresh controversy by labelling Tory's SmartTrack plan "segregationist" on Twitter and noting that it avoids the Jane/Finch and Rexdale neighbourhoods, both of which have substantial black populations. Olivia Chow, whose campaign employs Kinsella's consulting firmdistanced herself from Kinsella and his remarks as controversy ensued, while Tory argued her words to that effect were insufficient and accused her of "dirty politics" for suggesting Kinsella was no more than a volunteer. For his part, Kinsella has apologised for the inflammatory language, while continuing to attack Tory's involvement in the infamous attack ads used briefly in the 1993 federal election campaign that seemingly mocked Jean Chrétien's facial paralysis.

Conflict of Interest and Integrity

Mayor Rob Ford and councillor Doug Ford are the subject of new conflict-of interest allegations pertaining to their votes in council regarding a wastewater treatment program in which Deco Adhesive Products, a company of which the Ford brothers are owners as well as directors, was participating. Mayor Ford dismissed the issue, stating that he is only minimally involved at Deco; councillor Ford said that neither of them knew at the time of the vote that Deco was involved in the program. Meanwhile, an existing integrity investigation involving the Fords and Deco will not be concluded in time to present he results to the public before the election is held. Meanwhile, the city's integrity commissioner has ruled that councillor Maria Augimeri broke the city's code of conduct for municipal politicians. Finally, John Tory argues that municipal politicians should practice full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and ask advice instead of deciding alone whether a conflict exists.

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