By TOM GODFREY
Millionaires John Tory and Doug Ford are dishing out insults and big money for the vote of “common folks” to help propel them into the Mayor’s Chair.
Both “silver spooners” are well-off Conservatives who, let’s face it, would not normally have much to do with “common folks”, unless one drove them by taxi to the airport.
The rich rivals will still have their fortunes and powerful friends despite the outcome of the October 27 mayoral race that will cost them in excess of $1 million each for their campaigns.
Doug and Rob Ford, as many know, are the owners of the multi-million dollar Deco Labels and Tags, a family company founded by their late MP father, Doug Sr.
Doug Jr. boasts that he worked day and night to start the U.S. branch of Deco, that now has sales of more than $100 million.
He loves the good life and reportedly rented a private jet earlier this year to fly him and his family to Hollywood to see brother Rob tape a late-night TV show.
Olivia Chow may ride a bicycle to meetings as many city residents do. But Doug arrives in style in an expensive Cadillac Escalade SUV. He is even known to dole out $20 bills to some residents of his former Ward 2, a seat now sought by Rob.
Tory is not hurting in the pocketbook either. He is a board member, and a former president and CEO, of Rogers Media. Tory was also a former partner and executive committee member of a huge family-linked law firm.
He has been chastised by mayoral rivals for his lack of experience in holding public office and knowledge of the workings of City Hall.
Tory, to give him credit, has been touring and learning about the city’s diversified communities and has met many of the leaders.
Doug, on the other hand, claims to be a czar of Toronto Community Housing, and like his brother, conducts frequent site visits.
Both men come from prominent families, are financially secure and were given a boost in life that few “common folks” can ever receive.
Chow, on the other hand, has had to work for her success. She tells the story of being a child of immigrants from Hong Kong, who grew up poor and had to work for every dime.
She claims to know the value of a dollar and meaning of hard work, from her days as a Toronto city councillor and MP.
Chow has earned her political stripes and is not hurting financially either, due to an MP’s pension, among other funds.
She reminds us that she talks with an accent and still cares for her elderly mom, who speaks little English.
Chow has worked with newcomers, single mothers, the poor and disenfranchised, whom she says are the real “common folks”, who are not being talked about by her country-club rivals.
She can relate to almost half of the residents of Toronto who had to learn a new language, culture and start anew in Canada.
Chow is a strong debater and has some good ideas, but recent polls show that she is slipping in popular support and ranks third of the three main contenders.
More than 40 per cent of those polled last week seem to like Tory’s anti-gridlock and traffic-congestion fighting platform. They even seem to like his SmartTrack transit plan that leaves so many questions unanswered.
Some prominent Etobicoke politicians and Chinese leaders are the most recent to jump on the Tory bandwagon and endorse his platform.
The fight for “common folks” is crucial for all the candidates, who have taken out radio and TV ads to get their messages across to diversified communities.
The candidates have less than three weeks to grow their bases and tap into an untapped mass of disenfranchised voters to win this election.
We as common folks are sought after and have it in our hands to change direction or stay on course. It’s up to us.