Latest polls mean Our Toronto will vote for Olivia Chow (well … probably, most of us) even if she can’t win?

Oct 17th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

John Tory, a man who has lurked about Toronto looking for some kind of job for years. And maybe on October 27 he will find one at last, for the next four years!

Yesterday another poll from Forum Research brought the good news that the answer to a question posed on this site a mere nine days ago — “Will it really end just deja vu all over again for John Tory (and curtains for civilization in Toronto) ??” — is almost certainly NO. (Well, probably anyway. Close enough for jazz … etc.)

As of earlier this week, that is to say, Forum has just told us that in the coming October 27 Toronto mayoral election John Tory has 39% voter support, Doug Ford has 33%, and the lovely Olvia Chow has 23%. And this compares reassuringly with last week’s Forum poll, which had John Tory at 39%, Doug Ford at 37%, and Olivia Chow at 22%.

Doug Ford, in case you don’t already know (you’re from someplace very far away, say?), is current Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s older brother. Not long ago, Rob Ford was suddenly and even tragically struck by a very serious case of cancer. He resigned from the 2014 Toronto mayoral race in favour of his brother. But Rob himself is now less onerously running for his old Ward 2–Etobicoke North seat on City Council.

All the signs are that Rob Ford  is virtually certain to win his old Council seat handily this coming October 27 (another mere nine days away)!

According to Robyn Doolittle's book Crazy Town, Doug Ford resented his brother after he was left to run Deco Labels and Tags, the family business, while Rob was free to run for office.

The earlier Forum poll above — the one that had John Tory at 39% and Doug Ford at 37% (a so-called “statistical tie”) — also seemed to raise the prospect that Rob’s older brother might actually defeat John Tory in the end. And once again the Toronto mayoralty would be won for what “Our Toronto” (the one to which we counterweights editors all more or less belong) so rudely and arrogantly sees as the barbaric Ford Nation, in the 41Six47(437) north of the Lakes.

Yet think about it. If Doug’s Ford Nation mayoral campaign really were continuing to surge as the earlier 39%–37% Forum Research poll suggested it might be, the Ford candidate would not have lost four percentage points since last week, in this week’s Forum poll! Still more to the point, a new poll taken just yesterday by Mainstreet Technologies has found that John Tory has 38% voter support, with Doug Ford at a mere 29% and Olivia Chow at 22%. However you look at it, Mr Tory is back in a pretty unambiguous first place! And at least some people like us are concluding that it’s once again safe to vote for Olivia Chow.

1. General case for still voting Olivia Chow on October 27

World Cup, 2014. Chow’s team posed this shot to court soccer-loving voters. The ball is suspended from fishing wire. (Image: Mitchell Raphael.)

Note in these same comparative Forum Research numbers that the most we can say for Mr. Tory is he has not lost support since last week like Mr. Ford. (Assuming of course that any of these numbers seriously warrant such deep interpretive weight being placed upon them — which we have to assume, in some degree, or this entire little note, along with much else on almost all elections nowadays, is altogether next to pointless in the high technology 21st century.)

Careful numerical observers will also see that third-running Olivia Chow is the only major candidate who has gained ground between the two most recent Forum polls.

Even this is a mere one-point rise, from 22% to 23%. And we agree with Bob Hepburn in the Toronto Star — that “Olivia Chow now has little hope of victory.” Yet as Hepburn has also said, “she is tough, capable and seems finally to have caught her stride.” It’s just not going to happen, but she “could make a decent mayor.”

(Oh and btw, in the latest Mainstreet poll taken just yesterday, “Tory’s numbers have dropped by four points compared to a Mainstreet poll conducted” earlier, “while Ford’s numbers went up one point and Chow’s numbers went up three points.”)

Following some parallel advice from Mr. Hepburn, there are some among us here who have been thinking very seriously about voting strategically for John Tory instead of Olivia Chow, if that seemed on voting day October 27 the only reliable way of ensuring that Doug Ford would not be elected mayor (and new barbarian warlord!).

We have heard from other progressive voices as well, who feel that John Tory and Doug Ford  are on essentially the same global plane of political (and economic) being. And the barbarism critique no doubt does have a lot to do with some kind of snobbery.

These progressive voices are still going to vote for Olivia Chow, even if it does mean that Rob Ford’s older brother will be Mayor of Toronto for the next four years. (With only one vote on Council, after all, just like everyone else, regardless of Doug Ford’s much-raised passion for strong-mayor systems elsewhere — in Chicago, eg., where Doug also has a branch of the Toronto family business, Deco Labels & Tags, etc.)

What the latest Forum Research poll suggests, to most of us here at any rate, is that there is now another argument for voting (or still voting) for Olivia Chow — even if you really do not want to see Doug Ford as mayor (because you are a frequent public transit rider by necessity, eg?). And this case has now been bolstered by the latest Mainstreet poll taken just yesterday.

2. Our own Olivia Chow disappointments

"Make sure he’s in a good mood, before you go in to see him"?

There probably will be another Forum Research poll next week. And yet another poll from Mainstreet Technologies. They might change things a few last times. Yet assuming (as appears eminently reasonable) this does not happen in any major way, it seems again that John Tory actually is going to win an election to something at last on October 27.

And those of us who want to vote for Olivia Chow for our own good reasons can do so, without taking any serious risk about Doug Ford! (Who may not be a barbarian — but probably was a drug dealer in his youth, as some report in the Globe and Mail once implied.)

We feel that our own good reasons for voting for Ms Chow may not have a lot in common with the reasons others among her supporters might advance. And like many who were enthusiastic about Olivia Chow this past spring, we have been disappointed by various not-so-good vibrations since then. The regional numbers in the latest Forum poll suggest an intriguing case in point.

The one part of the present Toronto megacity where Ms Chow is doing at all credibly in this poll is “the old city of Toronto and East York.” Here the latest Forum numbers show John Tory at 44%, Olivia Chow 36%, and Doug Ford 16%.

But Doug Ford does better in all the more suburban regions, in one degree or another, and even leads or comes close to leading in North York and Scarborough. Ms Chow’s campaign has apparently bcome lost throughout this old suburban terrain. And this is where the new majority of the new megacity population lives (and in many cases works and worships too).

It is also a poignant fact of contemporary Toronto cultural demography that the old suburban regions of Etobicoke, York, North York, and Scarborough are at least as or even more multicultural and born-outside-Canada as/than the old city of Toronto and East York. (And the old city is of course the darkest current homeland of the elitist liberals Doug Ford loves to run against . Though he likes to run against them in the suburbs, where there are many even cosmopolitan reasons these days for not liking the people who live in the more or less gentrifying downtown.)

One of the big early hopes for Olivia Chow, in our books at least, was that — as the only ultimate major candidate who is not a White Anglo Saxon Protestant Male (all questions of barbarism and civilization and sort-of Jewish wives aside?) — she would be able to make inroads on the Ford Nation’s somewhat strange hold on strategic segments of today’s multicultural Toronto. (And remember : just over half the official City of Toronto population at the moment has been born outside Canada. And whatever else the Ford Nation may not know, it does know this!)

Why the Chow campaign has not gained as much ground among multicultural Toronto at large as many of her supporters have hoped is an interesting question. In some kind of (yet another) progressive post-election post mortem in the city this question ought to be debated at the kind of agonizingly monotonous length that might force us to just do something practical to solve the problem, for a change, etc … And remember, again : there are many mysteries of the global village abroad in Toronto these days. And it is not always easy to know what they mean!

3. Our own good reasons for voting for her anyway

City councillor Doug Ford defends his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, at city council in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

For us it finally comes down to something like this. There are various Torontos out there right now — just as there are various Montreals and Vancouvers, San Franciscos and New Yorks, Londons and Paris(es?), etc, etc, all the way to New Delhis and Bejings. Among all three ultimate major candidates, the Toronto that we identify most with, and most want to see move ahead, from our arrogant lair in the old city, is best represented by Olivia Chow.

We (or at least most of us, again — there is always a privileged dissenting minority) want to support this view of the Toronto future when we vote on October 27. And the polling auguries now seem such that we believe we can do this, and vote boldly for Ms Chow, without seriously risking the prospect of a Doug Ford mayoralty over the next four years, until 2018. (And we ourselves  remain ultimately unconvinced that a Doug Ford mayoralty would remain quite harmless, to say the very least!)

All this of course assumes that John Tory is finally going to win on October 27. And Ford Nation will be left with Rob Ford’s tragic figure in Ward 2, a few vaguely sympathetic City councillors, and not much else. (Unless you really do believe that John Tory and Doug Ford are in some serious enough sense essentially the same, politically and economically.)

It is arguable that volatility has been one big enough feature of the opinion polling on the Toronto mayoralty race in 2014, going back to this past spring — and we may actually be in store for one last jolt on this front over the next week or so. But like others we believe that there’s not much out there at the moment to suggest this kind of prospect is likely. If we had to bet money right now, of course we’d bet on John Tory (though not by anything quite like a landslide)..

4. What will happen to Olivia Chow?

WorldPride, 2014. Chow wore campaign colours to the Pride parade. Her vintage Vegas showgirl dress came from Exile in Kensington Market, the feather boa from Courage My Love. (Image: CP Images.)

Back when Olivia Chow was at the top of the Toronto mayoral race polls  — and everyone was still wondering whether she would finally run for the office — there were those who said she couldn’t really afford this kind of political adventure, as a widow in her late 50s. Her most financially sensible life plan would be to stay in the Canadian federal parliament (which among other things still has a pretty good pension plan, if you can get elected often enough!).

We have no idea of Ms Chow’s present financial situation. But it seems unlikely that it can be all that good — and it will undoubtedly be worse when the October 27 election has come and gone. It would be a class act for a victorious John Tory to give Olivia Chow some new city hall job suited to her talents. And it says a lot about our own limitations that we have absolutely no idea of whether he might actually do such a thing. (Moreover, there are no doubt more than a few reasons why any person in his circumstances should just do nothing?)

Say whatever else you like : In almost every way imaginable, the 2014 election for Mayor of Toronto would be a lot less interesting without Olivia Chow.

And unless something totally insane (and/or crazy) happens over the next week or so, at least most of us here are still going to vote for and even, in some sense, be endorsing Ms Chow for Mayor of Toronto in 2014. More than anyone else on serious offer, she is pointing to a kind of city that comes closest to the kind of city we want to live in.  Both Mr. Ford and Mr. Tory are voices from an increasingly distant past (albeit different kinds of voices from different kinds of not entirely terrible pasts). Olivia Chow’s Toronto is the city of the future that we want to start help building now. Even if that updated heir of the old Upper Canada Family Compact John Tory is of course going to win the mayoral race on October 27 — at last.

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