Monday, September 29, 2014

The reasons I really like John Tory and may still vote for him...

I have always liked John Tory and, as the polls show him as the best candidate to beat Doug Ford, I hope he does.

If this new poll out today (showing a clear but modest lead for Tory over Ford with Olivia Chow trailing in third) is backed up by Nanos and other pollsters, I will be voting for him.

As this Star article makes clear, John Tory has learned from past mistakes to run a textbook smart campaign this year.  He got in early in the race and has been pacing himself well.  He's been articulate.  He's been clear about his priorities.  He's smartly put a creative and much-needed policy on fixing Toronto's gridlock & transportation crisis at the centre of his campaign. I don't agree with everything he stands for, but I'm comfortable with his moderately progressive conservative positions on most issues. He's not a far-right conservative; he's a moderate.

He's also taken on the Fords in a way I've enjoyed immensely.  His attacks on their nonsense have always struck the right balance between outrage and the need for something better.  He does seem to be the breath of fresh air many Torontonians are looking for. 

All of these factors can be seen in Tory's new TV ad campaign. 

There have been many people quibbling about the details of his Smart Track plan, claiming it's not properly financed or that the proposed route of the track won't work. Tory's batted those criticisms aside like a pro and has remained focused. He's convinced me for the most part. Campaign platforms are rarely perfect and will always need to go through the process of legislative and bureaucratic approvals in order to weed out flaws.

I've been disappointed by Olivia Chow's campaign for mayor. As a downtown gay man, I should have been firmly in Olivia's camp long ago. Her policies have been bang on for me. I support her light rail train plan for Scarborough. I support her ambitious plan to build 200 kms of new bike lanes in the city. I am generally more in agreement with her on most issues than John Tory, whose support for the Scarborough subway extension has disappointed me.

Yet the fact that I and many, many other progressive Toronto residents are considering voting for Tory speaks volumes about his character and his message: Tory's found a way to straddle the great divide between conservative and progressive in a way we haven't seen in a generation or two in Ontario. If polls are correct, Tory leads strongly both in downtown Toronto and most of the suburbs. No candidate running to get elected mayor for the first time has ever done that in post-amalgamation Toronto. It's always been downtown versus the suburbs.

Chow suffers from what I call "NDP-itis," which is the mistaken belief that your far-left, NDP priorities and beliefs are so beautifully superior in and of themselves, you only need to merely put them in the window in order for them to receive massive support. Frequently, those Dippers suffering from NDP-itis can't seem to figure out why their precious priorities fall flat with the public. Chow has put her policies and issues in the window and hasn't truly sold them to the public. When she defends her plan or attacks Tory's plan, it grates rather than convinces. Chow hasn't earned the confidence of Toronto voters or inspired us or made us believe our city will be in strong hands going forward with her in the mayor's chair. I worry that Chow will divide the city in the opposite direction than the Fords.

It now seems clear Chow was a great idea on paper that in practice hasn't lived up to the promise. I wanted to vote for her a great deal. Because of the Scarborough subway issue, I still may. But I'm very tempted to vote for the candidate who's run the best campaign and has managed to unite the city behind his candidacy: John Tory.

If the polls continue to show John Tory in the lead with the awful Doug Ford a strong second, I'll be voting for Tory. All other issues are secondary to me. Fixing our city's leadership with someone who's decent is my only real priority this year and John Tory has earned his position as Ford-slayer.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Very happy to support Andray Domise, running for TO city councillor in Ward 2 against Rob Ford

I shot this short video of Andray Domise, who's running for Toronto city councillor in Ward 2 in this municipal election, last night at a meet-and-greet event.   As you can see, he's an articulate, level-headed, decent guy fighting to make his community better. 

His main opponent is, of course, Toronto's notorious mayor Rob Ford, who dropped out of the mayor's race recently due to health issues and back into his old ward, but has yet to campaign.  Before that, Andray was facing Mikey Ford, the 20-year-old nephew of Rob and Doug who changed his last name this spring to cash in on the family name.  Mikey's mother Kathy shared some crack cocaine with Rob Ford earlier this year in her Rexdale basement. 

Clearly, Ward 2 would do better to pick the better candidate in Andray Domise, who grew up in Rexdale and wants to build up his community in a way that Rob Ford has always failed to do.   I hope the voters of Ward 2 turn over a new page on October 27th and elect Andray.   It's time to do better! 

Check out Andray Domise's website here for more information on this great candidate!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Doug Ford flips and flops on Toronto's Pride Parade while out councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam gets homophobic hate mail from Ford Nation

In Tuesday's debate among the three major candidates for Toronto mayor, Doug Ford was asked repeatedly by his opponents during one of the defining moments of the night if he would march in Toronto's Pride parade as mayor.   Both John Tory and Olivia Chow took on Dougie's inability to answer a basic question, as you can see in this Global TV clip (strangely absent from CTV's clips of the debate):

Doug claimed last night he supports equality and Pride.  That was a major flip flop, of course, as Doug has previously attacked the Pride parade, claiming he's attended in the past and viewed dozens of 'buck naked men' at the proceedings.  Of course, Dougie and his brother Rob have also claimed in the past that Pride weekend was an annual Ford family getaway up in private cottage land.  How Dougie ever attended Pride in the past and also went to the cottage at the same time remains a mystery.  I bet you Doug is lying his face off about ever attending Pride. 

One thing that doesn't remain a mystery is why Doug Ford (like his bigot brother Rob Ford) continues to refuse to say he'll march in the Pride parade: because the Fords have been carefully nursing the support of homophobic bigots as part of their Ford Nation for years and they want to keep that support. 

Take a look at a typical Ford Nation supporter's recent hate mail letter sent to out lesbian city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents my Ward 27 and who will be getting my vote on Oct 27th:

Doug Ford is hoping not to lose the support of bigots like this, hence why he can't say he's going to the Pride parade as mayor.   That might piss them off and cause them to forget how to get to the polling stations on voting day.

Dougie, like his brother, is not qualified to be mayor of any city in Ontario, let alone Toronto.  Hence why I continue to be glad his brother will no longer be mayor going forward, and if present trends continue, neither will Doug.

And as for the bigots in Ford Nation, get ready for your comeuppance! Your four years in the sun are about to come to a crashing end!


A friend posted this link to a Twitter essay by @HeerJeet.  It's definitely worth a read: 'How the Fords have normalized racism & homophobia in Toronto'.

Monday, September 22, 2014

John Tory's Pride comments show his thinking hasn't evolved much since 2007 religious schools debacle

I have previously been quite open to voting for him, especially since he emerged as the main challenger to the incumbent buffoon Rob Ford.  

But now that RoFo has dropped out due to illness, Dougie Ford has stepped in to take his place and, to date, has proven a weak replacement.  Polls show him running third behind frontrunner Tory and second place nominee Olivia Chow.  It’s clear DoFo is going to milk his brother’s cancer diagnosis for as many votes as he can get, which may win him most of Rob Ford’s supporters, but probably few others. 

So I’m feeling much less pressure to vote strategically and instead vote for the Toronto I want, which I have to admit is not reflected in John Tory’s platform. 

I hate the misguided, vote-buying, new debt-inducing, property-tax-raising plan to build a three-stop Scarborough subway extension instead of the better, fully funded light rail train option with its seven stops which will serve people who actually need rapid transit in Scarborough.   This subway plan is the result of buffoon Rob Ford’s thinking and it’s galling that a bare majority of council (24 to 20) approved it last year. 

The only reason it happened was mostly due to flip flopper Karen Stintz who flipped again on the issue in a bid to bolster her now defunct mayoral ambitions.   It’s sad that John Tory buys into the misguided plan too.   It seems to me this is only because Tory fears standing up to the same transit-hating voters in Scarborough who will never use the new subway, but still demand it be built so they too can “feel” as important as downtown. 

Tory’s weak cycling policy sort of announced over the last week (months after Olivia Chow released her better cycling plan) has done little to convince me he’ll be much different than the Fords on that issue either.   After earlier questioning the urgently needed east-west separated bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide (now still just pilot projects), Tory now says he wants to build more bike lanes “in sensible locations.”  He refuses to outline how many kilometres of new bike lanes or where he’ll build them until after the election.  My experience with “sensible locations” means bike lanes that tend to completely disappear when they’re slightly inconvenient for cars.  I was also shocked to read that Tory had never cycled in Toronto before a recent 2-hour bike ride with cycling advocate Jared Kolb. 

This is hugely important to me as a cyclist who commutes daily on the very dangerous streets of downtown Toronto.  

The latest disappointment happened this past weekend when Tory showed he hasn’t learned much from his 2007 debacle as provincial PC leader. 

In 2007, Tory waded into the religious schools funding issue by pledging to extend Ontario public funding to all religious schools in addition to Catholic ones.  This was clearly a sop both to the right-wingers in his party and also to Jewish voters.  But it was a gross miscalculation on Tory’s part, as the majority of Ontarians then and now want less religion in public schools, not more.   The issue derailed Tory’s 2007 provincial campaign, leading to his massive defeat. 

Please don’t get me wrong: I have no affinity for QAIA or its strange obsession with alleged Israeli injustices (why don’t the organizers of QAIA spend as much time protesting human rights injustices by Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia or North Korea?)  Israel is not an apartheid state so to call your group “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” is to misinform an important debate.

However, I don’t think the solution is to ban the group and write them all off as anti-Semites (especially since many members of QAIA are Jewish themselves).   If the group is promoting a misleading or exaggerated message, then combat that misinformation with the truth, I say.  Pride Toronto struggled greatly with how to deal with QAIA in 2012 and managed to draft up a mediation process to address it.  

But the pledge here chosen by Tory is again to pander to win votes and do so in a way that undermines good public policy.   

As a result of all of these issues, I am on the cusp of fully endorsing Olivia Chow for mayor.  I fully support Chow’s public transit proposals for the city, as well as her cycling policy.  She is an inclusive person whose positions are inspired by genuine conviction instead of calculated vote optimization.   It’s lucky that Chow’s campaign is finally coming alive, with her appearing feistier at recent debates.   I hope that continues.  This is make-or-break time for Chow and if she doesn’t bring it over the next month, her political career is over. 

The only reason I could vote for Tory now is to simply stop Doug Ford, should DoFo somehow manage to improve his standings in the polls.  But if the race becomes a choice between Tory and Chow with DoFo a distant third, I’ll be voting for Olivia Chow.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's time to take the hint, Rob Anders...

Rob Anders - the longtime Conservative MP, homophobe, social conservative dork, with a penchant for falling asleep in Parliament (see pic on the right) or veterans' committee meetings, the idiot who somehow imagined Tom Mulcair sped up Jack Layton's death by cancer, and believed that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist - has lost another Conservative nomination, this time in the rural Alberta riding of Bow River.  

Anders, of course, lost the Conservative nomination in his longstanding riding of Calgary-Signal Hill back in April.  He thought he'd show those red liberal socialist Tories in Calgary by taking refuge amongst his true blue Conservative peeps in the new riding, I guess.  But to no avail.

Rob, please take the hint.  Even the blue Conservatives in your own party don't want you in the House of Commons anymore.   If Stephen Harper doesn't soon appoint you to the Senate (which is probably a strong possibility considering the quality of other appointments Harper has made to the upper chamber), it's time to start knocking on the doors of sleazy lobbying firms looking to gain access, or better yet join some prestigious conservative think tank. 

Best of luck to you in your future endeavours! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

TIFF '14: Benedict Cumberbatch's 'The Imitation Game' wins People's Choice Award

Due to vacations and work, I took it easy on TIFF this year, seeing only four movies.

But I'm happy to say that one of those four films was Morten Tyldum's excellent 'The Imitation Game,' (pictured) which today won the People's Choice Award at the festival.  

Considering previous TIFF People's Choice winners include Oscar Best Picture winners like '12 Years a Slave,' 'The King's Speech,' and 'Slumdog Millionaire,' this bodes well for 'Imitation Game's' Oscar chances.  

And what a great result that would be for a film that chronicles the life and work of mostly unknown Alan Turing, a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner, who led efforts to successfully crack the Enigma code during World War II.  Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.  Turing's pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several crucial battles.

The film focuses mostly on those fascinating efforts, but does so while shining a light on a character, Turing, whose introverted/anti-social nature might usually have deemed him an unsuitable lead character for a feature film.  The fact that the audience overwhelmingly sympathizes with Turing is due mostly to the great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

As Variety puts it in their mostly positive review, "His Turing is a marvel to watch, comically aloof when confronted with as mundane a task as ordering lunch, but seething with the mad intensity of a zealot whenever anything risks impeding his work, and finally heartbreaking in his inability to cope with the cruel realities of the world outside Bletchley Park."

The film flashes back and forth between events around 1952 when Turing was arrested for gross indecency (something I committed last week, by the standards of Turing's time), to Turing's war efforts between 1939 and 1945, and Turing's youth where the shy, bullied lad briefly found platonic first love with a schoolmate named Christopher, whom he would later name his Enigma-breaking super-computer after.

By the end, the audience is left with a strong sense of sadness at the life of a mostly misunderstood and tormented man who, despite hiding most of his life from people, still contributed so greatly to his own time and all the decades since.  His work building the Christopher computer, capable of deciphering through millions of possibilities to break the German Enigma code, clearly formed the basis for the modern computer.   For him to die so young (age 41) makes obvious the profound loss and tragedy of this genius's life. 

Check out 'The Imitation Game' when you can! 

I also saw and quite loved 'The Theory of Everything' about the early life of another genius of our time, Stephen Hawking.   It was as impressive as 'The Imitation Game,' although perhaps not as tragic and poignant.  Star Eddie Redmayne was simply perfect as Stephen Hawking.  No doubt, Redmayne and Cumberbatch have great chances of landing Best Actor Oscar nods early next year.

The final two films I saw at TIFF this year were Abel Ferrara's 'Pasolini,' starring Willem Dafoe as the infamous Italian director/writer Pier Paolo Pasolini, which was interesting but not overly focused, and the stunning 'Love in the Time of Civil War,' by Quebec director Rodrigue Jean.

Jean's film about Montreal junkie hustlers who gravitate between hot sex and searching for their next hit, was a bit long but still hammered home the point of these sad, downward-spiraling lives.  As the lead, sexy and oft-naked Alexandre Landry (pictured above) holds nothing back and, despite looking often a bit grubby, still manages to be mesmerizing.   No wonder he was named by TIFF as one of four 'Rising Stars' this year.

There wasn't much love in this time of civil war, but that seems to be Jean's point in one of the better films I've seen on the subject.   This one deserves a wide, international release across the whole gay market, if you ask me. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rob and Doug Ford pull a switcheroo in Toronto's mayor race, giving Doug Ford a $1.3 million advantage....

Big news today in Toronto with Rob Ford dropping out of the mayor's race due to health issues.  Now his brother Doug Ford is stepping in to run for Toronto mayor in Rob's place, because the family considers the mayor's chair to be Ford family property, I guess.

And Rob Ford, sick in the hospital awaiting a tumour diagnosis, is running for his old seat of Ward 2.  His 22-year-old nephew Mikey Ford has dropped out of the Ward 2 race to instead run for school trustee.

Yes this family seems to feel they are entitled to public office.  We'll see if the voters agree.

Here's my assessment of the situation.

This is bad news for Olivia Chow, who might've benefited had Rob Ford been forced to remove himself from the race without being replaced by his brother.   Then it would've been a choice between Chow and Tory, and progressive folks like myself would've had the luxury of choosing between them.

But now with Doug Ford on the ballot, the "AnybodyButFord" dynamic of this race continues.  I'm still just as determined to keep Doug Ford out of the mayor's chair as I was removing Rob Ford.  Both are cut from the same cloth.

Doug has less folksy charm and less political experience than Rob, two major parts of Rob's enduring appeal to Ford Nation types.  I would guess, considering the circumstances, that most of Ford Nation will continue to back Doug Ford in this race.  But no doubt, some might feel less inclined to do so.

Furthermore, the Rob Ford haters will, by and large, continue to oppose Doug Ford's candidacy for mayor.  So I don't think Dougie is going to win much support from elsewhere that Rob couldn't win.

But now that Doug Ford is a new candidate for mayor, he now apparently has the right to spend the maximum of $1.3 million to support himself between now and October 27th.   Money spent this year by his brother's campaign doesn't count against Dougie's new spending tally.

That's morally wrong since money spent this year to bolster the Ford brand is going to benefit Dougie.

I'm not too worried about that, though.   I don't think any amount of money will change many people's minds about the Fords now, but nevertheless this switcheroo today does raise important questions about spending fairness.  But no doubt, the Tory and Chow campaigns have been saving up the bulk of their own resources for this very late campaign period for advertising, so whatever extra cash Doug can spend may not make a real difference.  He still has to raise that money.

I'm only annoyed that since Rob Ford is running in Ward 2, this means the jerk could still be around to spread his poison a bit more and perhaps launch a comeback in the future (should, of course, he survive his current cancer scare.)

Not a great day for decent people in Toronto.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The awful Sam Sotiropoulos

A good friend of mine commented on this Global TV interview with idiot/homophobic Toronto school trustee Sam Sotiropoulos and said it all: "Kudos to the Global TV reporter here who doggedly attempted to engage demented school board trustee Sam Sotiropoulos on his inane comments about transgender people. His weird smirky "we're done here" glare near the end is the funniest/creepiest thing since Joe Pesci in GOODFELLAS." 

I couldn't agree more: 

Why do such losers get elected in Toronto suburbs and elsewhere for school board trustee?  Probably because most trustee elections usually are won and lost simply based on whose names voters vaguely recognize.   

But I'm hoping Sotiropoulos' shameful pontificating against LGBT people and Pride parades this year and against transgendered people recently gets punished this October.  Come on, Scarborough-Agincourt voters, does this man in this Global TV interview really speak for you?  

There is luckily one very strong candidate running against the bigot Sotiropoulos next month and she's gaining momentum: Manna Wong.  I may have to donate some money to her campaign.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

John Tory's critics complain about TIF but fail to admit all urgent transit relief plans will cost taxpayers eventually

I'm getting a little tired of John Tory critics picking apart his "Smart Track" proposal as "risky" and "dangerous" simply because he hopes to finance it with tax-increment financing or TIF.   

Such a plan could fall well short of paying the city's $3 billion share of Tory's plan, forcing taxpayers to pay in other ways.   John Barber is the latest to offer his condemnation. 

Here's the truth: it doesn't matter if TIF will pay Toronto's entire share of Tory's Smart Track plan or any new rapid transit line plan.  If TIF fails in the future to do so, the money will have to come from elsewhere.  How was that ever not going to be the case?

From Olivia Chow's campaign (when Warren Kinsella was running the war room), we only heard attacks on Tory for somehow flip flopping on his proposal to make a Yonge Street relief line his top priority.  Tory's not flip flopping; he's simply fleshing out a plan that works.  Her campaign hasn't attacked Tory's financing plans (that I recall at least), because they aren't talking about their own financing much at all.

To build the kind of relief we need on our subway grid, we either need to electrify and re-purpose existing rail stock to create the relief sooner.   Or we build it elsewhere from scratch and take many more years to do it.

Tory at least showed he can think creatively by rightfully using existing rail lines to better integrate TTC with GO and produce the results we desperately need much faster and probably cheaper (as using existing surface lines instead of tunneling through the city is cheaper by definition.)  

The idea is sound and even inspired Chow to copy it for a good chunk of her own transit plan.

I like Chow's overall transit positions more.   I admit they will cost city taxpayers billions to fully implement.  Her plan to expand bus service by 10% will also cost even more.   She hasn't fully explained how she'll finance all these ideas either.  David Soknacki, whose transit plan is very similar to Chow's plan, at least has admitted his proposals will mean big tax increases and fare increases.

But to say Tory's plan is somehow "dangerous" for taxpayers while offering no equal criticism to Chow's plan or Soknacki's plan, is disingenuous and just plain wrong.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rob Ford can't run a high school football team, and he most certainly can't run a city....

This is required reading for Ford Nation or those bizarre people who appear to be still considering voting for the turd in October, according to the turd pollster Forum Research.  

Here's an excerpt from the Daniel Dale story today: 

"Mayor Rob Ford made his high school football players “roll in goose scat,” threatened to beat up a teacher, showed up intoxicated to the final practice before the Metro Bowl, ignored requests to complete criminal background checks, stuck the school with a $5,000 tab for helmets he promised to pay for, and held an improper summer practice at which a player broke his collarbone, according to internal documents from the Catholic school board."

Yeah, sadly this disgusting behaviour doesn't shock us any more.  We're numb to Ford's excesses.  

After Ford has done so much lying, so much covering up, so much malfeasance, our collective reaction (at least those of us who are sensible and care about our city) should be to tune him out and scratch him off our list of possible recipients of our vote in October.   There should be no way he can win more support than 20-25%, which is about the percentage of dumb people who don't care about a mayor smoking crack on the job, I guess.  

That's why I don't want to believe today's Forum Poll which claims Ford is gaining and getting back in the game, only a few points behind frontrunner John Tory.   Really?   He lies incessantly for years about his record and his terrible behaviour, he's a confirmed bigot and has given us no evidence to believe otherwise, but now we'll consider voting for him still?  

I don't think so.   Forum is just acting like most of the pollsters out there these days: putting out bogus polls to get more attention for their brand.   They don't care how they compromise our democracy or distort how the race is going; Forum and others just want their poll to "get people talking" and get their company's name is as many media outlet stories as possible.  That's all. 

I'm waiting for the next Nanos poll.   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Our Next Progressive Toronto City Councillor": Kate Holloway formally launches bid for city council seat in Ward 20 in Toronto

I'm very happy to be supporting my friend Kate Holloway (pictured) in her bid for a Toronto City Council seat this October.  

She's running in Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina, which was Adam Vaughan's former seat until he resigned to run federally.

Kate is a sensational, hard-working person and community leader, as well as an environmentalist entrepreneur.  She has founded, managed and directed several environmental organizations, including the Toronto Women's Environmental Alliance and Carbonzero and has worked extensively in energy management and municipal infrastructure.  Level-headed, fair and compassionate, she'd be a great asset to the people of Ward 20 at Toronto city hall, as well as to all Torontonians.  You can read her full bio here on her website. 

I met Kate when I helped organize 'Liberals For MMP' in 2007, the grassroots Liberal group dedicated to promoting electoral reform in that year's provincial referendum in Ontario.  I also volunteered on her campaign to become the Liberal MPP for Trinity-Spadina that year, in which, despite very little time, Kate managed to win 14,180 votes in the riding and cut then-NDP incumbent Rosario Marchese's margin of victory by about 2,000 votes.

Her engaging and warm personality, her very strong leadership skills and her progressive values which nicely complement those of Trinity-Spadina voters, make her an ideal fit for the Ward 20 community.

Kate today held a press event at her campaign office at 222 Spadina Avenue in Toronto (Concourse Level) to sign her "Pledge" to the voters of her community.  I was very pleased to be there for it (video to follow later.)  Here's an excerpt from the press release:

“Our community and neighbourhood are at a crucial juncture, and on October 27 I’m the only candidate who can finish the fight that Adam Vaughan started,” said Holloway.  “I’m running to be our next progressive city councillor, I’m running to put residents first, and I’m running to win.”

Kate’s Pledge has seven clearly-focused parts that underscore her commitment to Ward 20 residents:

1.  Fight for our values
2.  Build transit now
3.  Smarter growth
4.  Less construction disruption
5.  New public spaces & more Kid Space
6.  Bike lanes
7.  A community you’ll be prouder of

“My Pledge has seven parts, and it’s crucially important that we accomplish them together to put residents first,” Holloway said.  “It’s my commitment to fully focus on our community’s core issues, and devote my complete attention to our neighbourhoods and our city, because there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

A progressive entrepreneur, journalist, and political activist, Holloway’s roots run very deep in the Trinity-Spadina community.

“With trust, hope, and hard work, on October 27 we’re going to elect me to be our next progressive city councillor in order to put our residents first,” said Holloway.  “So let other candidates make promises – I’m the only one signing a Pledge.”

To find out more or to help out or donate to this great candidate, please check out Kate's website here. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Still struggling between John Tory and Olivia Chow in T.O.'s mayoral race

With this fairly quiet and not-hot-enough summer drawing to a close, the Toronto mayoral race is just about to switch into high gear.  Polls offer a hint of clarity as many lately have shown John Tory pulling ahead, Olivia Chow falling back and Rob Ford stagnating, including the reliable Nanos.

We'll see if that trend continues.  Without a doubt, Tory's got game and is performing well in this race, sounding reasonable, talking about things on the minds of most Torontonians like easing gridlock.  To date, his Smart Track proposal is his strongest play, despite the many attacks it's received from opponents.  There is much to debate about it, but at its core it best represents Tory's refreshing ability to think creatively about how to solve our transit crisis in this city by using existing rail lines and pushing for greater integration with the GO network.  

Much of Tory's plan depends on substantial action and funding from other levels of government, but so do all the transit plans being promoted in this race (except of course for Rob Ford's non-plan which calls for subways, subways, subways paid for by fictional efficiencies.)

I still don't like the Scarborough subway extension plan which would add three stops instead of seven, serve fewer people, take twice as long to build and cost $1 billion more than the existing Scarborough light rail plan.  Tory supports the stubway, as do Rob Ford and Karen Stintz. 

Olivia Chow's transit plan is better for Toronto, in my opinion.  She wants to build the better LRT in Scarborough, and continue with the LRT lines for Sheppard East and Finch.  She unveiled more details today, also promising to integrate electrified GO lines into her subway relief plan, while still proceeding with an actual new subway from Pape station south and west to Union Station.   It's Transit City Plus Smart Track, in many ways.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, John Tory could say.  

We'll see if this better transit plan helps Chow re-capture some momentum.  She'll have to relentlessly promote it at every stop as transit seems to be the biggest issue in this race.  

Still, Chow's speaking style in this campaign has a lot to be desired.  She's somewhat likeable, but comes across as flat and uninspiring.  Her years as a background political organizer in the shadow of her late husband Jack Layton hasn't helped her develop her macro-retail political skills.  Her disadvantage as someone whose first language isn't English is proving a difficult barrier to overcome.  Had she the personality of Kathleen Wynne, Chow might be able to win this thing despite that.  But alas, her support seems to be dwindling to just the core left of the city.  

I'm not entirely sure how she can recapture her earlier lead.  With Tory performing so well (and that will only increase after Labour Day when he no doubt ramps it up), Chow could get pushed aside and find herself an also-ran. 

For me, yes I would like to vote for someone whose transit plans I support.  No doubt, that would make me a natural Chow supporter.   Her longstanding support for cycling also makes her quite appealing to me.   On the other hand, John Tory's expressed doubts about east-west dedicated bike lanes in the city's core have been off-putting.  Lately, he's said he has an open mind about them, which is good as they're desperately needed by cyclists like me.   I soon need to see a John Tory cycling plan for the city that makes sense.  

Tory has vacillated between sounding like a thoughtful red Tory open to smart, progressive ideas, to sounding like a right-wing pretender who uses the term "NDP" as an insult for opponents and talks about stopping bike lanes to help traffic flow faster.  He needs to clarify things and really emphasize his trump card: that he's the best candidate to unite the city, suburbs and the downtown, as a cosmopolitan conservative with a heart.   If Chow can somehow convince voters she's better to unite the city, she might have a chance to overtake Tory. 

But for me, all of the issues mentioned above are secondary; the only real issue for me is getting rid of Rob Ford.  I will vote for the candidate who has the strongest lead in all credible polls to beat Ford, hands down.  I can live with anything in John Tory's platform if he is the person to beat the goof currently occupying the mayor's chair in Toronto.

If polls show Tory way ahead in this race, with Chow continuing to flounder barely ahead or even behind Ford, I will happily vote for Tory.  Should Chow regain some momentum on Tory, leaving Ford in the dust, or even if Chow recaptures her lead in the polls, then she'll get my vote.  If it's too close to call between Chow and Tory, I'll have a tough choice to make.

But if current trends continue with Tory solidifying his new momentum, he'll get my vote, despite his support for the Scarborough subway extension.