This week, commentators weigh in on Rob Ford's electoral viability. Transit issues continue to be front and centre, and some denouement is reached regarding the controversy over Warren Kinsella's comments. Polls show John Tory in the lead, with a resurgence by Rob Ford, along with dipping numbers for Olivia Chow.
John Tory's SmartTrack plan continues to spur discussion, attracting criticism both of its timeline and the viability of tax-increment financing as an alternative funding source to conventional taxes or fees. Meanwhile, TTC Chief Andy Byford and City Manager Joe Pennachetti have collaborated on a proposal to build the waterfront LRT component of the now-defunct Transit City plan with the help of the provincial and federal governments; former city councillor and current GO chair Gordon Chong argues in the National Post that massive transit expansion is needed, including a Queen Street subway line. Finally, TTC hardware supplier Nova Bus has still not formally notified the TTC of a recall issued in July affecting 80 buses purchased from the supplier.
Mayor Rob Ford and councillor Doug Ford are the only two dissenting votes as council opts to review paid police duty; other options include the "Vancouver model," which entails employing sworn peace officers for these duties at roughly half the cost.
City council began its final session of this term on Monday 25 August. Items up for discussion included the approval of a new practice facility for the Toronto Raptors, opposed only by the Fords; options for restricting excessive motorcycle noise; the decision that council, not councillor Maria Augimeri, will pay legal costs for candidate Gus Cusimano after Augimeri broke conduct rules by calling the candidate a "criminal"; banning e-cigarettes from city property; gender-neutral lyrics for the national anthem; the location of the Cornerstone men's shelter; and the approval of further condominium development, which councillors Joe Mihevc and Kristyn Wong-Tam dub the "Manhattanization" of downtown Toronto. Some councillors wore pink as a form of protest against Rob Ford's performance as mayor.
Campaign Grab Bag
John Lorinc explains Karen Stintz's record.
During the same press event in which he defended paid police duty, Mayor Ford claimed not to have increased user fees for recreation centres, when in fact they have increased in every year of his term, and in some cases were temporarily levied at recreation centres in low-income areas which were formerly free to use; the mayor had previously claimed that he had increased fees in order to boost revenues, but claimed that this was not a tax increase since "fee-payers" and "taxpayers" are different.
While Mayor Ford has been cleared of any integrity violations over the participation of his aides in coaching the Don Bosco high school football team during business hours, controversy has nonetheless been rekindled after Toronto Catholic District School Board documents were revealed that allege the mayor showed up to coach the team (and potentially even operated a vehicle) while inebriated; further accusations include threatening a teacher, directing a racial slur at the school's principal and homophobic slurs at students, and forcing students to roll in goose excrement. This behaviour is alleged to have resulted in his dismissal from the volunteer coaching position.
Olivia Chow and John Tory, both in search of votes from supporters of the Liberals, continue to criticise Rob Ford's record and argue that his rise in the polls is illusory and insignificant. While Dan Rath argues in the Toronto Star that Ford will win, Zachary Spicer of LISPOP disputes this contention.
Mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and David Soknacki support continuing the Open Streets initiative, while John Tory holds off on taking a formal position and Rob Ford does not provide any comment whatsoever.
City hall lobbyist Jeff Lyons is found to have broken lobbying rules last year, inappropriately contacting a councillor on behalf of a contract bidder.
Mayoral candidate David Soknacki maintains that he is committed to staying in the race until it is complete.
Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson's "happy city" plan calls for the free disbursement of popular erectile-dysfunction pharmaceutical Viagra to low-income seniors in order to ease stress. Meanwhile, her claims, based on internal polling, to command up to 15% of the vote share are shown to be deeply flawed and unreliable.
Ward 2 candidate Andray Domise is running against candidate Michael Ford, nephew to Mayor Rob Ford and councillor Doug Ford.
Councillor John Filion suggests one must be "wilfully blind" in order to vote for Rob Ford.
Another batch of Rob Ford bobbleheads is set to go on sale Monday.