With Rob Ford out and Doug Ford in the mayor’s race in Toronto, things have clearly changed for Olivia Chow and John Tory — the other top contenders.
It’s a tough call for politicians deciding whether to treat Doug Ford like just another candidate, or to restrain themselves — given the difficult family circumstances that prompted him to enter the mayor’s race.
When Ford officially signed on to the race — even as his brother withdrew, it presented a difficult political dilemma for his opponents who may not wish to appear callous or insensitive, in regard to Rob Ford’s current health problems.
There is, however, an election race underway, and it is heating up. Therefore there may be a very short period of grace for Doug Ford, before the normal rough and tumble of politics, takes over.
Both ends of that spectrum were presented to voters in Toronto today as John Tory and Olivia Chow chose different paths to welcome Doug Ford to the mayor’s race.
Olivia Chow: “Whether there’s an incumbent or not, what Ford is like we shall see. But I think the campaign is also about the vision. It’s about what direction — what opportunities are available to the city of Toronto and the citizens of this great city.”
John Tory: “To voters I would say this. Even with the changes today, the choices facing the people of Toronto has not changed. There’s a clear choice — four more years of division and the chaos that we’ve seen at Toronto city hall. Or a candidate who can work with city council and with other governments to get Toronto back on track.”
We tried to reach out to mayors both current and former, in the CHCH viewing area this afternoon to garner their thoughts on this highly unusual political development. Some were unavailable. Some declined. And some, didn’t return our calls.
But Niagara Falls Mayor Rick Diodati offered some astute assessment, of what it means to have Doug Ford in the race: “He’s the Ford name. He’s the fiscal conservative agenda, but not with all the same baggage. So I think he’ll be high profile for those people that like his fiscal policies but don’t like the personal piece. Maybe they’re going to be ok with this. So I think they’re going to have to do another poll. I think that’s definitely going to change the outcome — and it’s going to make an already exciting race just that much more exciting.”
One other thing that Mayor Diodati pointed out — if nothing else, the unfortunate circumstances that brought Doug Ford into the race also have a positive effect, on the political process — in that there is now intense focus, and attention being paid to the mayor’s race in Toronto. And that may help to engage more participation at the ballot box. Something that can’t be anything but an improvement to the normally moribund landscape of municipal politics.