Toronto's long nightmare is about to end. No, not Rob Ford's reign as mayor, though that will come to an end on December 1.
The Toronto mayor race will finally come to a close next Monday. Canada is known for short election cycles, but the candidates to replace Rob Ford has been running for 8 months.
Doug Ford, who wants to replace his brother as mayor, hasn't been running as long nor has he been talkative, but the Rob Ford/Doug Ford train has been running from well beyond the 8 month mark.
One sign that people are paying more attention to the Toronto mayoral race is a significant increase in advance ballots. The final figure will be about 125,000, up from about 77,000 in the 2010 Toronto mayor race. The City of Toronto released the info that 28,046 people cast a ballot on the first day of advance voting.
More advanced ballots also indicate a race where minds aren't going to be changed.
Based on recent polls, John Tory is significantly out in front with Doug Ford running second and Olivia Chow quite far behind. Though there are 65 candidates for mayor, these are the primary 3 candidates. As we have noted before, you don't need a plurality to win: get the most votes and you are in office.
So who is John Tory?
This is Tory's second run for mayor, coming in second to David Miller in 2003 by slightly over 36,000 votes. Tory's name was brought up in the 2010 election, but he did not run that time.
After losing the 2003 Toronto mayoral election, Tory spent his time in Ontario politics. In 2004, Tory became leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Tory was eventually elected in the legislature in 2005 in the very safe Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey riding. He switched to his home riding — Don Valley West — in the 2007 Ontario election, losing to now Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Tory has worked for Rogers Media, including a stint as president and CEO. He also served as the CFL commissioner from 1996-2000.
He managed Kim Campbell's 1993 federal election campaign and also served as tour director and campaign chairman to then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
What Torontoians (and those in the suburbs) want to know is where John Tory will be on the issues affecting the city.
Doug Ford is riding the "vote for me, vote for Rob" approach that we predicted. Ford hasn't made major speeches and tried to escape debates for flimsy reasons.
Even though Rob Ford is technically the mayor and technically not running for mayor — Ford is running for city council in Ward 2 — Rob Ford was kicked out of three advance polling stations for violations of fraternizing with voters.
Olivia Chow had name recognition, an extra connection to Toronto through her late husband, Jack Layton, and was the major liberal voice in the mayoral campaign. So why isn't Chow likely to win next Monday?
On paper, 2 conservatives vs. 1 liberal would give the advantage to the liberal, especially since the winning candidate doesn't have to get to 50%. Rob Ford never got to 50% in 2010.
By all regards, Chow has run a poor campaign and not articulating her ideas well enough. She spent more time focused on Rob Ford and not Tory. Chow is the major anti-Ford candidate, but we have seen reports that potential voters who like Chow are going for Tory because they want to make sure Ford isn't elected.
Chow gave up her seat in Parliament to run in the race. The Trinity-Spadina riding went Liberal in the by-election on June 30.
The new mayor of Toronto will have a lot of messes to clean up from Rob Ford's time as mayor. Transit is still a gigantic issue in the GTA. Assuming Doug Ford is not the new mayor, the new mayor will have to clean up Toronto's image as a city.
As we have noted before, you don't need a plurality to win: get the most votes and you are in office.
The winner of the race on October 27 won't take office until December 1.
We will have much more extensive coverage next week. Good luck, Toronto. Get out and vote.