Toronto elec­tion win­ners and losers

John Tory was the big win­ner – too bad we can’t say the same for lo­cal democ­racy or coun­cil di­ver­sity



The in­cum­bent mayor won the most anti-cli­mac­tic may­oral race in re­cent me­mory with more than 60 per cent of the vote over near­est ri­val Jen­nifer Keesmaat – and he did it with­out hav­ing to de­fend his lack­lus­tre record in any real way. The writ­ing was on the wall on this one. The lo­cal af­fil­i­ate of the coun­try’s pub­lic broad­caster, CBC Tele­vi­sion, even took a pass, an­nounc­ing it would not be cov­er­ing elec­tion night re­sults. It opted in­stead to air for­mer PM Stephen Harper’s fave pro­gram, Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies.


With Tory at the helm for the next four years, Ford must be hum­ming that old Stones song, “Un­der my thumb.” A tweet from CBC’s 22 Min­utes summed it up nicely when the re­sults were an­nounced – “Break­ing: Doug Ford some­how still fu­ri­ous he’s not go­ing to be elected mayor of Toronto.” The train wreck is just get­ting started. With Ford’s power play to take over Toronto’s sub­way sys­tem loom­ing, the Amal­ga­mated Tran­sit Union rep­re­sent­ing TTC work­ers was quick to is­sue a state­ment elec­tion night re­new­ing its call to “keep tran­sit pub­lic.”


The num­bers say Keesmaat was soundly de­feated, as she cap­tured only 23 per cent of the vote. But she never re­ally stood a fair chance. The die was cast for Tory the mo­ment Ford futzed with the pro­gram and de­cided to cut coun­cil in half with­out mov­ing the dead­line for may­oral can­di­dates to reg­is­ter. Keesmaat nev­er­the­less threw her­self into the fight at the 11th hour in an at­tempt to bring some mea­sure of ac­count­abil­ity to the race. She was the city’s best chance at keep­ing Ford in check. Too bad most vot­ers didn’t rec­og­nize that – or maybe they did and that’s why they voted for Tory. Now that’s some kick in the head.


The Eritrean-Cana­dian hu­man rights lawyer ran a val­ues-based cam­paign that spoke to racial­ized Toron­to­ni­ans. She fin­ished well be­hind but en­cour­aged many who feel dis­en­fran­chised to vote for the first time. She ar­rived for her elec­tion-night party in a horse drawn car­riage. Now that’s chutz­pah. Some­thing tells us it’s not the last we’ve seen of her.


Coun­cil’s ter­ri­ble child took care of busi­ness against lefty stal­wart Joe Mi­hevc in Toronto-St. Paul’s in what was one of the most-watched races of the cam­paign. Not even Tory’s en­dorse­ment, which Mi­hevc re­port­edly re­quested, was enough in the end. In fact, it may have com­pli­cated things for Cit­i­zen Joe, with his base in the more work­ing-class west end of the rid­ing.

Mat­low, mean­while, still has some coun­cil col­leagues to con­vince he’s not just out for him­self if he wants to play a big­ger role this term.


Coun­cil’s only out gay rep won con­vinc­ingly with more than 50 per cent of the vote in Toronto Cen­tre de­spite ef­forts by for­mer Lib­eral MPP for the area, Ge­orge Smither­man, to throw grenades into the race with a law-and-or­der agenda that re­called the days when he was known as Fu­ri­ous Ge­orge. A host of fringe can­di­dates pissed about de­vel­op­ment mostly added to the ca­coph­ony against Wong-Tam. Still, she pre­vailed be­cause she al­ways does her home­work.


First-term may­ors who haven’t com­pletely effed up have rarely face a stiff re-elec­tion test in this town. (See David Miller ver­sus Jane Pit­field.) And so it was for Tory. But un­like Miller, who pushed grand tran­sit plans, Tory hasn’t ac­com­plished any­thing re­motely ap­proach­ing vi­sion­ary. It’s been back to meat-and-pota­toes is­sues, like keep­ing prop­erty taxes low, un­der his watch. Mean­while, Toronto is headed for a fi­nan­cial ice­berg. A whop­ping $22 bil­lion and grow­ing rep­re­sents the amount in un­funded cap­i­tal projects. That num­ber in­cludes re­pairs for ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture. We never did hear about that dur­ing the cam­paign. Tory and his han­dlers were able to cover up a thin record of ac­com­plish­ments with a dash of re­tail pol­i­tics and the “lead­er­ship that works” slo­ga­neer­ing. Won’t be so easy next time – if, that is, Tory de­cides to run. He has stated in the past that he only plans to stay on for two terms, which means the prob­lems will be left for some­one else to fix.


The chaos un­leashed by Ford’s mad­ness ba­si­cally sucked all of the oxy­gen out of the elec­tion. By the end, Tory was coast­ing to the fin­ish, duck­ing de­bates with Keesmaat and rob­bing res­i­dents of the ben­e­fit of any mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion on a raft of is­sues. Lead­er­ship that works, or just ar­ro­gance? Ei­ther way, a sad state of af­fairs with voter turnout in many wards hov­er­ing in the mid-30-per-cent range.


Ford’s as­sault on democ­racy un­der­cut what was shap­ing up to be the most di­verse city gov­ern­ment we’d ever seen. But his move to cut coun­cil forced many racial­ized can­di­dates into un­winnable races and oth­ers to drop out en­tirely. The re­sult is that coun­cil is whiter than it has ever been, with plenty of the same old right-wing guard (Mark Grimes, Stephen Holy­day, Den­zil Min­nan-Wong, Jaye Robin­son, Michael Ford, Jim Kary­gian­nis) win­ning in the burbs. Coun­cil’s left wing still con­trols about half of the 25 seats, but just like un­der Rob Ford, it will have to rely on a hand­ful of coun­cil­lors who now make up the mushy mid­dle to carry votes over Tory. That will be a trick­ier propo­si­tion this term.


The mouth that roared about tak­ing a sledge­ham­mer to so­cial hous­ing had his ass handed to him by An­thony Per­ruzza in Hum­ber River-Black Creek – even with his cam­paign signs pro­claim­ing he was “Doug Ford’s choice.” Would have been nice to see Tif­fany Ford win this one, but we’ll take Per­ruzza over Mammo. Hope­fully it’s the last we’ve seen of him. But don’t count on it. With Doug at Queen’s Park, a run for a pro­vin­cial seat seems in­evitable.


Coun­cil’s first Tamil Cana­dian, who won his seat in a by-elec­tion in 2017 af­ter a num­ber of un­suc­cess­ful bids for of­fice, was sideswiped, los­ing by just over 600 votes in Scar­bor­ough Rouge Park to Jen­nifer McKelvie.


The “red” Star’s ed­i­to­rial en­dors­ing Tory for mayor was about as out of touch as you can get. In a city in­creas­ingly de­fined by race and poverty, the Star sug­gested read­ers cast their vote for Tory be­cause he rep­re­sents the best hope for the burbs. Pri­or­ity neigh­bour­hoods that have to live un­der in­creas­ing po­lice sur­veil­lance thanks to Tory don’t see it that way. Clearly the Star’s four-mem­ber ed­i­to­rial board (which in­cludes one woman and no peo­ple of colour) has not been read­ing its own city hall cov­er­age.


The fringe may­oral can­di­date was a dis­grace to the race with her op­por­tunis­tic – and nar­cis­sis­tic – anti-im­mi­grant fear-mon­ger­ing. Bell Me­dia rec­og­nized that and re­fused to run her ads. Un­for­tu­nately that didn’t stop friends of the self-de­scribed “next Prime Min­is­ter of Canada” at red­neck ra­dio CFRB, the Toronto Sun and Con­rad Black at the Na­tional Post (see page 8), from push­ing her cause. They still think she should have been al­lowed to take part in the de­bates. Her 15 min­utes are up. en­ | @en­zodi­mat­teo

John Tory won with more than 60 per cent of the vote and with­out hav­ing to de­fend his lack­lus­tre record.

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