As the candidates headed into the final few days before Monday's civic election vote, the spotlight shone on campaign finances and a new poll that puts Coun. Rob Ford in the lead.

The Ekos poll released Friday allocated support for the top three candidates as follows:

  • Ford - 43.9 per cent
  • George Smitherman - 35.6 per cent
  • Joe Pantalone - 15 per cent
  • other - 5.5 per cent

The poll consists of a randomly-dialed sample of 507 Toronto voters who responded via their phone's keypad. The survey was conducted from Oct. 13 to 21 and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The poll suggests Ford holds an advantage because he has strong support in the baby boomer and seniors demographics, which are more likely to vote.

"While not conclusive, both the top line results for the poll and the underlying analysis point to Mr. Ford as the probable victor," Ekos said in a news release.

However, it cautioned that the poll's margin of error is higher for subsamples.

A Nanos Research poll conducted for CTV News, CP24 and the Globe and Mail between Oct. 14 and 16 allocated support as follows (mid-September poll results in brackets):

  • Ford - 43.9 per cent (45.8 per cent)
  • Smitherman - 40.5 per cent (21.3 per cent)
  • Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone - 15 per cent (16.8 per cent)

That poll sampled 1,000 people and is considered accurate with 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Campaign donor lists

Pantalone and Ford released their lists of campaign donors Thursday, but Smitherman said he would not do so until after the election.

The mayoral candidate said he was complying with all laws related to campaigning for public office, including the rules about who candidates can accept donations from.

"Anytime I am a candidate for office I am going to comply fully with what is asked of me," Smitherman told reporters during a press conference on Friday.

He said he would also comply with rules about releasing donor lists, which demand candidates release their full financial report after the election.

Ford attacked Smitherman for his decision not to release his donor list before the election, which has become tradition in recent years.

"What's he hiding?" Ford asked. "Just show who donated to your campaign. Let's start the new term with true transparency, like I am."

Pantalone said: "And you have to be transparent before people go vote for you, not after the deed, because then there's not much they can do about it."

Ford has collected about $690,000, while Pantalone announced his own $850,000 war chest.  They were allowed to spend $1.3 million.

"The voters deserve to know where the money is coming from. Every major candidate since 2003 has done this willingly, but with George Smitherman refusing to release his donors' lists, it's clear we need new rules to improve transparency and accountability," Ford said in a statement. "It raises the question: what is George Smitherman hiding?"

Ford said that if he became mayor, he would pass an amendment requiring candidates to release their full donor lists before Election Day.

Smitherman said he couldn't stop Ford from making accusations, but that he would release his finances at the appropriate time.

"The election is still on, I'm still in the active phase of the campaign, and I'm still soliciting contributions to build the resources that we need to finish out the election on Monday," he said.


Smitherman spoke to reporters on Friday after picking up another high-profile endorsement, this time from former mayor David Crombie.

Crombie, who was mayor from 1972-78 and later a federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, called voting for Smitherman the best decision to build the City of Toronto.

Crombie will become Smitherman's special adviser on using public infrastructure efficiently. Crombie has previously advocated for turning schools into community hubs, where residents in the area can meet – a proposal Smitherman previously put forward.

"If you are looking for the best way to get better services to people in a cheaper way, and strengthen community at the same time, that is what community hubs do," Crombie said.

"We have an opportunity here, and that is why I am really please when George called and asked if I would take this on."

Crombie told reporters he had no comment on Ford or Pantalone, but that people should vote on a vision for their city and not out of fear. He offered this advice.

"We also need to make sure that we continue the city-building" that has made Toronto a place where people want to raise their families, Crombie said. "In my judgment, George Smitherman gives us that opportunity."

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness