Category Archives: toronto

Maybe we should have let Ford win

As the 2014 Toronto municipal election campaign wound down to a close, opponents of the mayor wondered what went wrong. Once again they had underestimated Rob Ford, the big guy from Etobicoke, and failed to grasp the appeal of his message. The simplistic sloganeering strategy of 2010—“Respect for taxpayers! Stop the gravy train!”—had been iterated upon but not fundamentally changed. In 2014 it was all “Stay the course! Don’t change your horse!

A campaign based on incumbency was both predictable and predicted. What Ford’s opponents also should have predicted, but didn’t, was the degree to which he would use his record to his favour rather than run from it like the embarrassment they assumed it was. Beginning in late 2011 and escalating in 2012 and 2013, the mayor had lost many key council votes and failed to follow through on his election commitments. It seemed at the time that this was the momentum progressives needed to take the city back.

But throughout the 2014 campaign Ford and his supporters repeated the mantra that they needed to “finish the job” they’d been blocked from doing by a “left-wing, NDP, union-friendly council.” If not for an elitist, out-of-touch council, Toronto would be full of subways by now. Our taxes would be lower. Our debt would be wiped out. The Weapons of Mass Gravy would have been found and eliminated.

Instead, Ford’s team had persuasively argued, Toronto was held back because City Hall was still too full of Millerites. Now, Torontonians were looking set not just to reelect the mayor, but also—tired of the embarrassing and paralyzing in-fighting of the past four years—to send a new slate of like-minded councillors to the clamshell with him.

The most dangerous thing about Rob Ford has never been his political ideology or his vision for Toronto. The most dangerous thing about him is his extraordinary incompetence. If Ford could blanket Toronto with a comprehensive network of funded subways, if he could find efficiencies and reduce spending without harming Toronto’s most vulnerable, if he could personally return every phone call and be a champion for every resident, who would stand in his way? The biggest problem with Ford’s first term was not his choice of objectives, it was that he was completely incapable of achieving them.

If council hadn’t worked against him—or, more definitively, if they’d done what they could to try to support him and achieve his vision—he’d be exposed. There would be no Sheppard subway in the works for 2015 as promised, or maybe at all. Toronto would be spending an extra $2 billion to bury an LRT where it doesn’t need to be buried, serving as a big flashing “hey isn’t this the kind of gravy we thought we were voting against” sign. Above all, Toronto would be a meaner, poorer place, with less child care, social services, community programs, recreational activities, environmental protection and potential for economic development. And he’d have no one to blame but himself.

It’s a horrible thing to contemplate, though. Once implemented, Ford’s plans not only become exposed as wrongheaded or completely unworkable, they also become exposed as genuinely harmful to real people. How could any reasonable councillor of good conscience knowingly vote in a way that would negativity affect so many of their constituents and the city itself, just to make a political point in aid of positioning for a future campaign?

No, fighting back was the only thing they could have done. Still, as October 27th, 2014 drew ever more near and the prospect of another four years of Ford became more and more likely, this time with a more supportive council, it was an inescapable thought. Maybe we’d be better off if we had allowed him to win. And, by doing so, allowed him to fail.

The results

Chris Tindal for Ward 27 CookieThe results are in, and while they’re not what we hoped for, we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. Last night I spoke with five other Ward 27 candidates to congratulate them on strong campaigns, including Kristyn Wong-Tam who undeniably had the strongest campaign and earned a hard-fought victory. (I hope to speak with many of my other opponents soon as well.) Our incoming councillor was very generous in her comments, and said she looks forward to working together to build Ward 27.

I’m particularly proud of and happy about three things today. First, friendships that have been made and strengthened. A campaign is a community, and ours was a great one to be part of.

Second, and related, that we had such a strong showing without a big political machine behind us. This was a grassroots multi-partisan campaign that grew as we went along. Some of our most dedicated volunteers were people that joined us after we knocked on their doors, like a snowball rolling down a hill. I’m so humbled that so many great people gave so much of themselves.

Ward 27 campaign flyers in a doorThird, the strength of the other candidates. What an amazing thing we accomplished here. Over and over again people told me that there were multiple council candidates they wanted to vote for, who they thought would make great contributions to council. How often does that happen? When was the last time you voted in an election and thought, “gosh, there are just too many good choices?” It’s remarkable.

This week, we’ve got work to do closing up the campaign office, returning rented furniture, collecting and recycling lawn signs. Claire and I will then spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast in Prince Edward County before I return to work from my three-month leave of absence on Monday.

I’ve learned a lot during this campaign, and hope to share some of that in this space over the coming month.

More to come.

Today, your vote will make a difference. Here’s how.

It’s been a long campaign, and it all comes down to today. Your vote will help ensure we have a city councillor who represents every one of Ward 27’s residents and neighbourhoods, and that we have improved public transit, responsibly managed finances and smart sustainable development.

How to vote

To find out where to vote, click here or phone 311.

You’ll need to bring ID that shows your name, signature and address. For a list of acceptable ID, click here.

Voting is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. If you have any questions or require assistance getting to your voting station you can call our office (416.351.8000).

Why vote

Because the municipal level of government affects our lives more directly than any other, and because it’s more important than ever that we have a strong city council. This is a very tight race—it may come down to as little as 100 votes—your vote will make a difference.

Why Chris Tindal

Chris is endorsed by respected people from across the political spectrum and all over our ward. He has the best set of principles and priorities, and he has the business and governance experience to get results. I have been impressed by his honesty, integrity and genuine interest in what each and every person has had to say throughout this election. I am confident he is the best candidate for city council.

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch by email or phone.


Lesley Myers
Campaign Manager, Chris Tindal Campaign

Creating a Pride where you belong

Back before Pride Toronto made its controversial decision to ban two words from this year’s parade, I made clear the reasons why I opposed such a move. Since then I have done a lot of listening and a lot of thinking, and, apparently, so has Pride. Yesterday they announced that they are reversing their decision to be the judges of what language can or can’t be used in the parade, requiring only that participants agree to abide by the city’s non-discrimination policy.

The board members of Pride Toronto are to be congratulated for having the courage to change their minds, and a special thanks goes to the community members including Brent Hawkes, Doug Elliott, Doug Kerr, Michael Went, Maura Lawless and others who worked to build bridges and come to this agreement.

As Glen Murray points out this morning on Facebook, the most important thing now is the second part of Pride Toronto’s decision, to “appoint a panel of LGBTTIQQ2SA leaders and friends to recommend a policy to protect and advance the qualities of Pride and ensure it is true to its core values and principles” with a mandate to “consult with the community to develop recommendations to ensure a Pride that values and promotes freedom of speech and individual expression, inclusiveness and respect, pluralism and diversity, equity and fairness, celebration, humour and fun.”

This addresses the two main concerns I expressed to Torontoist earlier this month, saying “The [Pride] Board did not pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy… the decision was ad hoc. Had they gone through an open process, there would not be such anger.” Now we will hopefully have both a comprehensive policy and an open process to create it.

Now it’s time to move forward together, recognizing that while the decision that Pride Toronto originally came to was wrong, there are also some members of the LGBT community who have not felt, as Pride’s slogan puts it, like they “belong” due to language they perceive to be hurtful and even threatening. Let’s be clear, I’m not just talking about lobbyists and activists with a public profile. There are many people I’ve spoken with while knocking on doors who have told me they no longer feel welcome at Pride, and that’s a real concern. Creating an environment where everyone feels a sense of safety and belonging while also allowing a diversity of voices is the challenge, and I’m optimistic that Pride has created the right process to meet it.