As usual, the supporters of Rob and Doug Ford proved a potent force in Toronto’s municipal politics, bringing the mayor’s elder brother much closer than polls predicted to winning the city’s mayoral election tonight.
John Tory, however, the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, managed to unite center-right and moderate voters, narrowly edging out Ford (pictured above) and third-placed candidate Olivia Chow.
Chow, a former city councillor and the widow of Jack Layton, the former leader of the progressive New Democratic Party (NDP), began the race earlier this year as its frontrunner. Since July, however, Chow sunk to third place, falling behind Rob Ford who, until his cancer diagnosis in September, was still running for reelection. Incredibly, both Fords commanded a strong core of supporters among the self-proclaimed ‘Ford Nation,’ despite a turbulent four years in which the mayor admitted to crack cocaine use and alcohol abuse, was stripped of many of his executive powers by the Toronto city council, and attended a recovery program for substance addiction.
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Such was the power of Ford’s everyman charm that he retained the loyalty of the suburban and working-class voters that fueled Ford Nation. His supporters include a surprisingly high number of racial and ethnic minorities, despite Ford’s sometimes culturally uncomfortable moments (swearing, perhaps drunkenly, in Jamaican patois, for instance). The lingering regard with which ‘Ford Nation’ held for Rob meant that Doug Ford was always a potent candidate for mayor.
Notably, Rob, whose chemotherapy treatments limited his campaigning, still won a seat on the city council from Ward 2 in his native Etobicoke with around 59% of the vote — it’s the seat that he held in 2010 when he was elected mayor. Opponents breathing a sign of relief at Doug Ford’s loss tonight might not want to relax too much. A wiser and healthier Rob Ford could easily return in 2018 as a formidable candidate. Continue reading Toronto’s Ford era is over (for now)