Mayoral Race

Highlights

  • New polling shows Toronto’s electorate solidifying in its support  to re-elect John Tory as mayor over his main challenger, Jennifer Keesmaat, whose campaign has struggled to continue to build momentum.
  • Both Tory and Keesmaat sat down with TVO’s The Agenda host Steve Paikin and the Toronto Star’s editorial board to reaffirm their respective campaign platforms in their battle for the mayor’s chair. In her sit-down with Paikin, Keesmaat announced she wouldn’t raise property taxes above the rate of inflation across the board if elected, matching one of Tory’s main campaign pledges.
  • Candidates Sarah Climenhaga, Saron Gebresellassi, Jennifer Keesmaat and John Tory faced off in a frequently fiery Toronto Region Board of Trade (TREB) and Globe and Mail mayoral debate, discussing affordability, transit, governance and business. Climenhaga and Gabresellassi challenged Tory on his transit plans, while Keesmaat and the mayor sparred over their respective records as public servants for the City of Toronto. Tory argued that many of Keesmaat’s campaign promises would not be possible without raising taxes, while Keesmaat maintained that she found cost-saving measures elsewhere – such as her proposal to cancel the expensive plan to rebuild part of the Gardiner Expressway.
  • Keesmaat announced last Tuesday that she would resurrect a previously proposed redesign of Yonge Street in Willowdale that would replace two lanes of vehicle traffic with bike lanes if elected. The staff-recommended Transform Yonge plan, addressing Yonge Street, between Sheppard and Finch, would save an estimated $9 million compared to the Tory-supported plan to keep all six lanes of traffic while moving the bike lanes to nearby arterial roads.
  • Adding to his previous endorsement of city planner Brad Bradford in the Beaches-East York council race, Mayor Tory announced he would appoint Bradford as “relief line champion” if both were elected. The announcement came as a Toronto Star column re-introduced the issue of overcrowding at Yonge-Bloor station, which TTC staff have long identified as one of the system’s biggest challenges.
  • In his second endorsement of the campaign, Tory threw his support behind candidate Joe Mihevc over Josh Matlow in the Toronto-St. Paul’s race, noting in a statement that Mihevc is someone he “knows he can work with at city hall.” Keesmaat, meanwhile, gave her first endorsement of the campaign to Joe Cressy in the Spadina-Fort York race during a press conference on Saturday, citing his “vision and values” after he, in turn, endorsed her for mayor.
  • At a campaign stop in Kensington Market over the weekend, Keesmaat unveiled an action plan outlining what she would do in her first 100 days if elected mayor. The plan included specific steps she would take to actualize her various campaign promises, including fast-tracking work on a downtown relief line, building 100,000 purpose-built rental homes, finalizing a plan to replace the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway, and organizing a rent-to-own housing program.
  • With advanced polls opening last week, Torontonians keen to cast their votes headed to the ballot box. Following Premier Ford’s unexpected move weeks before the election to cut the size of Toronto City Council by nearly half, and many incumbents across the city consequently squaring off, officials expect this year’s advanced polling numbers to break records set in 2014’s municipal election.

 

Latest Polls

Councillor Races

Each week, Counsel will be previewing the local City Council races as candidates across the city hustle for votes as they seek to be elected in one of Toronto’s 25 new wards. 

Today, we look at the six wards of western Toronto. Including the entirety of Etobicoke, much of York and the western half of North York, these western wards represent a wide cross-section of Toronto. Etobicoke, famous as the heartland of Ford Nation, has been carefully watched by Mayor Tory’s campaign for any stirrings of a right-wing insurgency that could threaten his re-election bid (all signs look good for Tory). At the same time, wards in York and North York are ground zero for Jennifer Keesmaat’s bid – a strong showing there is vital to her team’s game plan. With many head-to-head match-ups against incumbent councillors, the western wards offer the potential for some unpredictable results come election night.

Ward 1 – Etobicoke North
Incumbents:
  • Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1)
  • Michael Ford (Ward 2)
Notable Candidates:
  • Vincent Crisanti (incumbent)
  • Michael Ford (incumbent)
Counsel’s Preview:
The political fates are unkind to Vincent Cristanti. Dropped last year as Deputy Mayor by John Tory for his open support of Tory’s then-anticipated opponent Doug Ford, Crisanti has been one of the Ford family’s most steadfast allies on Toronto City Council since his defeat of incumbent Suzan Hall in 2010. Now, Premier Ford’s decision to slash the number of Toronto City Council seats in half has put Crisanti in a direct collision with the Fords. Michael Ford, the nephew of Premier Doug Ford and the late Mayor Rob Ford, is the youngest incumbent councillor and represents the ward previously served by both his uncles. Whereas the elder Fords had an often-fractious relationship with their fellow councillors, the younger Ford is reserved and well-liked by fellow councilors. But make no mistake: the mild-mannered councillor will have much of the weight of Ford Nation – stronger than ever – behind him in his re-election bid.
Ward 2 – Etobicoke Centre
Incumbents:
  • Stephen Holyday (Ward 3)
  • John Campbell (Ward 4)
Notable Candidates:
  • Stephen Holyday (incumbent)
  • John Campbell (incumbent)
  • Angelo Carnevale (small business owner)
Counsel’s Preview:
Only the boldest prognosticators would make a prediction for Ward 2. With incumbents Stephen Holyday and John Campbell squaring off, and the entirety of both of their former wards making up the new combined ward, it is anyone’s race. Both are seeking their second term on Council, and bring good local name recognition to bear: Campbell as a trustee and school board chair, and Holyday as the son of former Etobicoke Mayor, Councillor and MPP Doug Holyday. There is a good chance that this one comes down to a spoiler. That could be Angelo Carnevale, who has the endorsement of both Premier Doug Ford and Etobicoke Centre MPP Kinga Surma. It’s no idle endorsement – Carnevale was able to garner over 20 per cent of the vote in the 2014 election as a Council candidate. He ran unsuccessfully against Campbell in the former Ward 4, and stands to have better name recognition in Campbell’s backyard. Will this amount to any sort of advantage for Holyday?
Ward 3 – Etobicoke-Lakeshore
Incumbents:
  • Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) [not seeking re-election]
  • Mark Grimes (Ward 6)
Notable Candidates:
  • Mark Grimes (incumbent)
  • Pamela Gough (TDSB trustee)
Counsel’s Preview:
With incumbent Justin Di Ciano opting against a second term on council, and former councillor and recently-defeated provincial cabinet minister Peter Milczyn staying on the sidelines, re-election looked promising for Mark Grimes. Etobicoke’s senior representative on council, Grimes is an old-school ward politico who has built up a deep base of local supporters in his 15 years on Toronto City Council. But he’s drawn a very strong challenger in Pamela Gough, a long-time TDSB trustee who’s served on that body even longer than Grimes has on council. Notably, she’s from the northern portion of the new ward where Grimes is a less familiar face, and will be able to draw upon solid local recognition. Each candidate will be looking to make as many inroads as possible among voters in each other’s traditional turf.
Ward 5 – York South-Weston
Incumbents:
  • Frances Nunziata (Ward 11)
  • Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12)
Notable Candidates:
  • Frances Nunziata (incumbent)
  • Frank Di Giorgio (incumbent)
Counsel’s Preview:
The race for Ward 5 is a head-to-head showdown between two of Council’s longest-serving members: Di Giorgio was first-elected to North York Council in 1985, and Nunziata joined York Council in 1988. Both have been fixtures at City Hall since that time. With little geographic advantage for either in the combined ward, drawing upon old-fashioned campaigning may be what gives one or the other the edge. A first take by Mainstreet Research suggests that Nunziata is in the lead, giving Speaker Nunziata a 7-point advantage over fellow council veteran Di Giorgio.
Ward 6 – York Centre
Incumbents:
  • Maria Augimeri (Ward 9)
  • James Pasternak (Ward 10)
Notable Candidates:
  • Maria Augimeri (incumbent)
  • James Pasternak (incumbent)
  • Louise Russo (anti-violence advocate, 2018 Ontario Liberal candidate)
Counsel’s Preview:
Whereas many Toronto voters will be spoiled for choice on the ballot on October 22nd, voters in the new Ward 6 will have a near-binary choice – Augimeri or Pasternak. The two incumbents are both seeking a seat on council for the new ward surrounding the sprawling Downsview Airport. Augimeri is a local institution, highly active in the community, and is the city’s longest-serving incumbent. Not wasting any time, two-term incumbent Pasternak vigorously campaigned throughout the spring and summer as other councillors waited to see how the re-apportionment of council seats would shake out. A possible spoiler: anti-violence advocate and shooting survivor Louise Russo, who unsuccessfully ran for the provincial Liberals in York Centre in the June election. While Russo is likely a very long shot to win, her advocacy and personal story will be compelling to many voters in a city increasingly concerned with the spike in gun violence.
Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek
Incumbents:
  • Giorgio Mammolitti (Ward 7)
  • Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8)
Notable Candidates:
  • Giorgio Mammolitti (incumbent)
  • Anthony Perruzza (incumbent)
  • Tiffany Ford (TDSB trustee)
Counsel’s Preview
Giorgio Mammolitti is one of council’s unapologetic originals. A darling of the Toronto Sun and thorn in the side of several Toronto mayors, he is no stranger to showmanship and is known for displaying a pair of boxing gloves on his desk during council meetings. He’s been a pugilistic fixture on North York and Toronto City Council since the mid-1990s, prior to which he served as an NDP MPP at Queen’s Park. His politics have veered sharply rightward since that time, and he’s now in a very tough fight against his fellow former NDP caucus mate and veteran councillor Anthony Perruzza. An early poll by Mainstreet Research indicates that Perruzza has opened up a 5-point lead in the race. In particular, Mammolitti is facing a determined challenge in his own backyard from Tiffany Ford, an erudite school board trustee who has earned significant media attention as an advocate for low-income residents who feel unfairly lambasted by Mammolitti. Ford – no relation to the Premier or former Mayor – may ironically see some benefit from sharing a politically-valuable surname.

Quotes of the Week

“I think it is about leadership. I think in this case, we have returned […] stability […] and formed effective partnerships with other governments and that’s returned billions of dollars to get transit and housing built. We have kept taxes down which I think people appreciate. At the same time, we’ve expanded services, but I think it comes down to leadership and who can best maintain those partnerships – who can stay the course in terms of getting transit built, addressing affordable housing in a realistic, keeping taxes low.”

John Tory
When asked “What is this election all about?” by Steve Paikin during his interview on TVO’s The Agenda.
“This election is all about whether we can make our city better or whether we’re going to stick with the status quo…The problem with the status quo is over the past four years, we have become the most expensive city in Canada in which to rent. Like we used to tease Vancouverites and say, wow, can’t live there, it’s so expensive. Well guess what, it’s more expensive now to live in Toronto. That’s an incredible risk.”
Jennifer Keesmaat
When asked “What is this election all about?” by Steve Paikin during her interview on TVO’s The Agenda.