Rob Ford – the only election issue in Toronto!

Rob Ford: The Only Election Issue in Toronto!

John Richardson, independent candidate – Toronto Danforth Ward 29

October 22, 2010

The mayoral election on October 25, 2010 is a referendum on only one issue.

That Issue is Rob Ford.

Democracy is Alive and Well in Toronto

The 2010 Toronto mayoral race has been the most exciting ever. The combination of:

– a fixed election date
– a long period of campaigning and
– unprecedented voter anger

has made people take note.  Voting at the advance polls was up approximately 80% from the 2006 election. This suggests a massive voter turnout on October 25.

The Remaining Players

There are three candidates remaining: Rob Ford, George Smitherman and Joe Pantalone.  Under the current system, the candidate who receives the most votes beside his name (“first past the post”) will win. That said, it is not always true that voting for a candidate is the same as a vote for that candidate! In fact, a vote for one candidate is often a vote against another candidate.

Rocco Rossi: Truly A Wise Guy

When Rocco Rossi dropped out of the race for mayor, he commented that:

“This is obviously a difficult decision,” Mr. Rossi said, fighting back tears.  He added that he felt it was clear the pursuit of the mayoralty had developed into a two-way race between, as he put it, “those who want to stop what Mr. Ford describes as ‘the gravy train’, and those that want to stop Mr. Ford.”
“I don’t want to distract from Torontonians taking a very close look at the front-runners, asking the very tough questions and demanding tough solutions for Toronto.”

Mr. Rossi did not endorse anyone, but urged voters to “vote for something, not against someone” on Oct. 25.

The Ford Phenomenon

It was not until April of 2010 that Rob Ford entered the race to become Toronto’s next mayor.  Predictably, the media, unions and “intelligentsia” (the “Enlightened  Few”) who believe that they, and they alone, have the wisdom to decide  on the legitimacy of a candidate, ridiculed Mr. Ford. What the “Enlightened Few” didn’t consider was that:

– Mr. Ford had voters  who actually supported  him and
– Honest, hard working taxpayers were very angry at the “Enlightened Few”, seven years of David Miller and his group of NDP and union backed  councillors. Mr. Ford was the only candidate (and still is) who was a clear vehicle for voters to express their anger.

Therefore, Mr. Ford will receive votes from both those who support him and because he is the only candidate voters can vote for that will allow them to express their rage.

Who Does Toronto City Council Work For?

The election of 2010 has become a referendum on whether Toronto is going to be run by the unions, NDP, intelligentsia and leftist media or if Toronto is going to be “reclaimed” by hard working, honest taxpayers.

A Prophecy

Approximately seven months ago, I wrote a “message in a bottle” in which I predicted that:

“October 25 is a long way away. Rob Ford’s success is rooted in the fact that, whether or not you like the message, Rob Ford does stand for something. Furthermore, he has real “flesh and blood” supporters. The other candidates stand for nothing except wanting to be Mayor.

Here is my prediction (barring a strong candidate entering the race):

1. Ford’s support will continue to grow. The reason is that he actually has support from real voters. The other candidates have support from only the media.

2. The “left” will rally around Pantalone.

3. Smitherman will be relevant only is so far as we will see where his supporters go when it becomes clear that he can’t win.

4. The left will ignite an “Anybody but Ford chorus”.

5. This will solidify Ford’s support.

6. On October 25, in the largest percentage turnout in Toronto voting history, Rob Ford will win.

What the intelligentsia fails to understand is that people do not like and do not respect City Council. They want a change and Rob Ford is it!

There is time to reverse Ford’s momentum. The first step is to realize that Rob Ford does embody a lot of what people want from City Hall.

The current City Council does not.

I will reread this prediction on October 25 and see if I was right.”

Right Result, Wrong Road

It is clear that I was wrong about Smitherman fading away.  I was also wrong about Patalone’s support. But, I was right that Ford’s support would continue to grow and that an “Anybody but Ford” movement would erupt. Smitherman has been the beneficiary of that  “Stop Rob Ford” movement.

Anybody But Ford

On September 13, 2010, Toronto lawyer Glen Wheeler argued in the Toronto Star that a Ford victory would be bad for unions and the person best positioned to stop Ford was Smitherman.

“Often in politics, we have to choose the least bad of the viable options available. In this election, he goes by the name Smitherman.

Whether it is Ford or Smitherman who’s victorious on Oct. 25 is not merely an academic question for union members, especially those who work for the City of Toronto.

A Ford victory will send labour to a political war that we may very well lose, considering the extent of anti-union sentiment in the air. With Smitherman, there will not necessarily be smooth sailing, especially if he takes at run at unions by trying to contract out services.

But if we played our cards right, labour could make Smitherman a winner and extract a quid pro quo. Think about it. One of the most recent polls shows Ford with 42 per cent of decided voters, Smitherman 36 and Pantalone 11.”–strategic-vote-for-smitherman-best-option-for-unions

On October 22, 2010, Alice Klein, writing for Now Toronto, explains why she will vote for Smitherman:

“Beware of politicians and commentators who ask you to vote with your conscience instead of your full consciousness. There is too much at stake to fritter away the franchise. The evidence-based election calculus says a vote for Joe Pantalone is very likely going to elect Rob Ford. That’s an outcome I can’t live with.”

These two comments make it clear that many people who cast their vote for Smitherman are actually voting against Ford and see a vote for Smitherman as the best way to defeat Rob Ford.

A Vote For Something or a Vote Against Somebody

It is clear that either Ford or Smitherman will be Toronto’s next mayor. It is also clear that Toronto’s next mayor will be elected based on votes that were not specifically for him. Look at it this way:

Smitherman – Smitherman is the preferred candidate of those who, in the words of Rocco Rossi, want to stop Mr. Ford.  The actual support for Smitherman is likely to be at the level it was prior to the formal “Stop Ford” movement. The actual support for Smitherman, per se, is not very high. A vote for Smitherman is more likely to be a vote against Ford. Smitherman is the candidate where the lowest percentage of votes for him are actually for him.

Ford – Ford is the preferred candidate of those who, in the words of Rocco  Rossi, want to stop what Mr. Ford describes as ‘the gravy train’. In other words, Mr. Ford is the way people vote to express their considerable anger. As a city councillor, Mr. Ford also has real support from real people. That said, given that Mr. Ford is not a candidate supported by the “Enlightened Few”, it is likely that a vote for Mr. Ford is likely to really be a vote for Mr. Ford.

Patalone – There is no question that a vote for Joe Patalone is actually a vote for Joe Patalone, absolutely 100% guaranteed. Joe Patalone is the candidate where  the highest  percentage  of  votes  for him are  really for him.

Democracy is the Worst Form of Government, Except All the Others

Democracy is a wonderful thing and is hard to define. Of course, people are free to cast their ballot for whomever they want, but our “first past the post democracy” includes two interesting features:

– It is possible that the candidate with the lowest support for him (George Smitherman) could be Mayor.

– If George Smitherman becomes mayor, it is the result of voting against a candidate and not for a candidate.

Perhaps democracy is not about candidates, but, in fact, is about getting results. If the result desired by the majority of those who take the time to vote is that they don’t want Ford as mayor, then this is the result (as opposed to the candidate) that Toronto wants.

It seems clear that the “First past the post” system of selecting candidates must go. Deciding on the replacement will be difficult, but is necessary.

On October 25:

– The unions, NDP, media and intelligentsia will vote against Ford;
– Hard working, honest taxpayers, who are able to find a way to vote, will vote for Ford.

In other words, Rob Ford is the only issue in this election!

Which side will prevail?

Will the hard working, honest taxpayers of Toronto be able to “reclaim Toronto”? Tune in on the evening of October 25, 2010 to find out!

For the record, I believe that Rocco Rossi is a truly wise guy – perhaps the wisest  guy in the election of 2010!


1 thought on “Rob Ford – the only election issue in Toronto!

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    The perils of voting anyone-but-Rob Ford
    Marcus Gee

    A friend who desperately wants to prevent Rob Ford from being elected mayor is telling everyone she knows to vote for George Smitherman. “But I don’t like George Smitherman,” many of them tell her. “Doesn’t matter, vote for Smitherman,” she says. But George Smitherman wants to cut, cut, cut, just like Ford, they say. “Vote Smitherman!” she says.

    With the election just around the corner, and Mr. Ford still ahead in the most recent polls, a frenzied anyone-but-Ford movement is taking shape. Its partisans argue that the threat of a Ford win is so grave that voters must abandon their convictions, suspend their judgment and rally to a candidate – any candidate –with the best hope of beating him.

    Councillor Joe Mihevc has even tossed aside his old colleague and natural ally, Joe Pantalone, to rush to the Smitherman camp – not, he made it clear on Wednesday, because he thought Mr. Smitherman was the better man, but because Mr. Smitherman had a better shot at winning. “It is absolutely imperative that I/we do everything possible to stop Rob Ford from becoming mayor,” Mr. Mihevc wrote in an e-mail.

    Even vote for someone you don’t like? As tempting as it is to find a way to block Mr. Ford, strategic or tactical voting comes with big risks.

    For one, it may backfire. Mr. Ford is popular in part because alienated suburban voters think that downtown elites have a chokehold on Toronto politics. Imagine their anger if those very elites seem to be ganging up on Mr. Ford like a bunch of senior boys at a prep school. It plays right into Mr. Ford’s game. Voters who think their man Rob is the victim of a conspiracy are more likely to show up to vote on Oct. 25, overwhelming the anti-Ford camp.

    Even if the anti-Ford candidate prevailed, do we really want to be governed by someone who won on the basis of who he isn’t? What mandate would Mr. Smitherman have if voters could bring themselves to support him only by holding their noses? How soon would it be before those voters started saying: “I never really liked him anyway. I just disliked him less than Ford.”

    As Mayor David Miller put it on Wednesday, when he endorsed Mr. Pantalone, “I think people want to vote for something,” not support candidates “because they’re slightly less awful than somebody else.”

    Our system only really works when voters look at the options and decide who suits them. Surely that’s what voting is about: choosing who you think would govern best. The candidate who is preferred by the most voters should win, even if he’s Rob Ford.

    Strategic or negative voting often has unintended consequences. Voters fed up with Liberal premier David Peterson in 1990 ended up electing NDPer Bob Rae.

    When politicians like Mr. Mihevc or Mr. Miller try to herd voters one way or another, they are usually exaggerating their own importance. This is not a party leadership contest, where candidates who drop out can often deliver many of their delegates to another candidate. When a low-polling candidate like Sarah Thomson jumps to Mr. Smitherman, it is not as if packs of “her” voters will automatically follow.

    The fact that Mr. Miller endorses his deputy mayor, right-hand man and political soul mate is so predictable that is hard to believe any voter would be influenced by it. You could say the same for the backing Mr. Pantalone picked up from NDPers Jack Layton and Olivia Chow.

    Exaggerating the threat posed by Mr. Ford is bound to flop, too. “Rob Ford and his associates would destroy so much that we value about our city – its diversity, animated neighbourhoods, care for the newcomers and the poor, our quality of life . . .,” Mr. Mihevc wrote. No doubt he would tear up all the splash parks and drown the kittens, too. There are many, many reasons to defeat Mr. Ford without saying he would destroy civilization as we know it.

    The best way to stop Mr. Ford is not to join a panicked anti-Ford stampede but to do what good citizens ought to: Consider the alternatives and vote for who they think is best.


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