Moving into the final days of Toronto mayor’s race, and likely, Ford Nation rule at City Hall

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We are now two days away from Monday, municipal Election Day in Ontario.

So it is not just Toronto that is going to the polls; places like Mississauga, Brampton, London, Hamilton, Ottawa etc. are electing civic officials too. In fact, not only is this the first time in decades that the Mississauga has had a real race for mayor, but this race between Bonnie Crombie and Steve Mahoney is actually pretty close.

But the media attention has all been on Toronto’s race — mainly due to the ongoing circus act of the last few years involving two guys named Rob and Doug Ford.

Unfortunately for Doug, that is exactly his problem. The craziness of the Rob Ford candidacy has not stopped with Doug in the race. Instead, he’s continued to get in the same sorts of trouble as his brother. The biggest low point for him was that debate where Doug got foot-in-mouth disease and made some comments about Jewish people that did not go over well with the audience. That was followed up by his claim that his wife is Jewish, which provoked some skepticism there, too.

Whatever Doug Ford thinks about Jewish people is beside the point. The point is this controversy make it look like the circus act was continuing with him. This was more of the same nonsense people had seen from his brother Rob, and people were fed up with it. Even though there was one Forum poll that put Doug Ford two points behind John Tory in the mayor’s race around this time as well, Doug’s momentum came to a halt after this episode.

In general, it really has been a gaffe-filled campaign on Ford’s part, characterized by attacks and made-up controversies about rival Tory that went nowhere. Ford first tried to trash Tory for not having enough experience, and then he tried to make an issue about the “gap in Tory’s resume” in reference to Tory being on the board of Charter Communications which went belly-up. Then he tried to turn Tory’s 2010 endorsement of Ford’s own council run into an endorsement of him this time for mayor.

Too bad he hasn’t been able to find anyone important this time to give him a real endorsement. Meanwhile Tory has been picking up one endorsement after another lately. Just the other day, outgoing Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion endorsed him. Doug says it doesn’t matter and that he has the endorsement that really matters — from the people. We’ll see about that one Monday.

Meanwhile, the Olivia Chow campaign has continued to be a sinking ship. It’s quite sad, actually. As predicted by myself, her campaign has gotten more and more desperate the last few weeks.

She basically made a point of attacking Tory at every turn, slamming his SmartTrack transit plans and claiming there was no difference between him and the Fords, what with the “Doug Tory” references and so on. That then prompted people to criticize Ms. Chow for dragging down Tory and making it possible for Ford to get in instead.

Anyway, that is the sort of campaign it has been for Chow. The “air of death” has taken over, and there is a full-on reverse bandwagon effect going on, with people bailing on Chow to vote Tory in order to stop Ford.

All in all, I think everyone in Toronto is glad this race is almost over and glad these debates are over, along with all the controversies associated with them — about candidates not showing up for all of them and so on. There have been too many of these controversies, and too many debates to begin with. If people in Toronto say they don’t have the information to make a decision, they clearly had their head in the sand the last few months.

The last few days have been notable because Tory pulled off a clean sweep of endorsements of the four major Toronto newspapers, which came as a surprise to me because I thought there was no way the Toronto “Red” Star would endorse him. I thought those lefty-libs over there would endorse Olivia, but the fact that they endorsed Tory clearly shows they think Chow’s cause is hopeless.

The Globe and the National Post are less of a surprise. As for the Toronto Sun, their editorial endorsement of Tory is notable because their major columnists like Joe Warmington, Mike Strobel and Sue-Ann Levy seemed to be Ford Nation people all the way. And the paper has given the Fords no end of coverage lately. So for their editorial board to turn around and endorse Tory, four years after that same paper endorsed Rob Ford, shows you how much trouble Ford Nation is in.

The latest round of polls have given Tory a lead of anywhere between six and 14 points over Ford. It would be a real surprise to me if there is any result other than a Tory victory on Monday, simply because I think so many people are going to vote for him to toss Ford Nation out.

All in all, this race has not gone the way anyone expected, due to Ms. Chow’s campaign implosion as well as the onset of Mayor Rob Ford’s health problems in the middle of his re-election race, forcing him to pull out and for Doug to enter instead. As an aside, Mayor Ford is on the ballot in Ward 2 for council and he could still come back to council for more fun, assuming he wins his cancer fight.

We will see what transpires Monday. Hopefully I will put up another post tomorrow with a few more links to some articles about the campaign. On Monday night, I intend to be here for some election coverage of my own, but it will have to be for only a little while because later that evening I will need to head off to cover — that’s right — a city council meeting. It figures.

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