By TOM GODFREY
Mayor Rob Ford is fending off blows from all corners.
Some residents have resorted to placing anti-Ford signs in areas of the city with one alleged candidate vowing to “smoke pot as Mayor, not crack”.
Ford Nation may be cracking and we now know for sure that the gloves are off.
Mainstream candidates running against Ford are on the offensive after a public outcry that they did not attack Ford on his drug use and antics outside Chambers during last week’s sleeper of a Mayoral debate.
In the last debates, the Mayor, who is a political street fighter, raised his voice and tried to brow-beat or bully rivals into submission.
But, former MP Olivia Chow is wise to Ford’s antics and was the first to go after him repeatedly about his drug taking, his not being a role model and questioning the $1 billion Ford claims he has saved taxpayers.
Chow, for her part, showed experience and leadership skills in handling Ford. She managed to stand her ground against the charging Mayor.
She impressed many, who thought the soft-spoken NDPer might have been easily bulldozed by Ford and his mantra: “I have a record of saving the taxpayers money.”
Polls by the Toronto Star show Chow as an early leader of the 43 candidates vying for the city’s top job. Ford is in second place, followed by John Tory.
Mind you, there will be dozens of polls conducted before the vote on October 27.
Chow says Ford, through his antics, has damaged the reputation of Toronto and he is unfit to hold office, a charge the Mayor denies.
The Mayor has been stripped of most of his powers by City Council, and is the subject of an investigation by Toronto Police and the OPP. He has been openly fighting with Chief Bill Blair over Project Brazen, which led to the arrest of his friend and sometimes driver, Sandro Lisi.
“He (Ford) has made Toronto the laughing stock of the world,” Chow told Share, referring to the fun being made of the Mayor on U.S. late night TV shows. “We have to restore the damage he has done to our City, but first we have to get him out.”
Chow says she is a city-builder, who has been involved in many issues in the Black community as a former MP and North York councillor.
She was a member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and has walked with husband, the late NDP leader Jack Layton, on numerous rallies against police shootings going back 20 years.
“I have a long history with the community,” Chow says. “People know me and I believe the public service should reflect the diversity of the city.”
The former immigration critic is against alleged racial profiling practices conducted by police against members of the Black community.
“It is not acceptable if people are being targeted,” she says. “I know this is a big issue and I will follow the lead and wishes of the community.”
Chow rhymes off a list of leaders she has worked with including the late Charles Roach and Dudley Laws, Lennox Farrell, Pat Case, Zanana Akande and others.
“I have a proven track record in working with all communities,” she stresses. “I can bring results by working with all parties to get things done.”
She blasted Ford for his divisiveness on Council, which she says is preventing city business from being done.
It took Tory, who is a pleasant, smart guy, until the next day after the debate to crank up his rhetoric against Chow and Ford, whom he views as his main rivals.
“I am here to move the city forward,” Tory says. “The city has been drifting for years and it is time we put it back on course.”
He accused Ford of a lack of leadership and cavorting with known criminals.
Tory is a nice man, but he is getting lost in the name-calling fray. He may have to step up his game a few notches to get his ideas heard above the Mayor’s voice.
Ford is even unfazed by the constant sniping by Karen Stintz and David Soknacki.
The Mayor has been in a campaign mode for months handing out hundreds of T-shirts and fridge magnets to supporters.
Let’s hope his rivals won’t have to resort to gimmicks in a bid to bring him down.