T.O. mayoral candidates try to push strategic choices
Coun. Rob Ford said if it were a two-person Toronto mayoral race between Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone and former deputy premier George Smitherman, he would vote for Pantalone.
"I disagree with probably 95 per cent of the stuff -- we have different opinions," Ford told Pantalone during a debate televised on CP24.
But the 10-year veteran councillor said he respects Pantalone's honesty and experience.
Smitherman would later say, "What you see here is an alliance of the new odd couple -- a combined 40 years at City Hall."
He also made a crack at one point that if Pantalone's legs were longer, he could play footsie with Ford. Smitherman later apologized.
The latest Nanos Research poll for CTV News, CP24 and the Globe and Mail shows a two-person race between Ford and Smitherman, with Pantalone in a distant third place as Election Day looms next Monday. Here is how the support breaks down:
- Ford - 43.8 per cent
- Smitherman - 40.5 per cent
- Pantalone - 15 per cent
Smitherman has been trying hard to woo wavering Pantalone supporters. The Nanos poll found that up to one-quarter of the long-term Trinity-Spadina councillor’s supporters could throw their support to another candidate.
To that end, Smitherman tried to cast himself as the centrist between the right-leaning Ford and the left-leaning Pantalone.
"The citizens of Toronto know that at this stage, a vote for Joe Pantalone is a vote for Rob Ford, and they're working in alignment together," he said.
Smitherman said he had a progressive record, progressive experience "and a very progressive platform."
Pantalone said Smitherman is attempting to push strategic voting onto people to stop Ford.
"There's nothing strategic about abandoning your principles and values and voting on fear," he said.
To show some of the pressure to pick sides, the Central Ontario Building Trades Council announced Tuesday it was endorsing Smitherman because it felt he was the candidate with the best chance to defeat Ford.
Smitherman vs. Ford
Ford said no one could trust Smitherman, while they could trust his 10-year track record of opposing waste and mismanagement at City Hall.
Ford continually hammered away at Smitherman over the problems stemming from the effort to develop an electronic medical records system for the province.
"How can you be trusted to stop backroom deals if you're giving $10 million in untendered work to your former chief of staff at Courtyard Group," Ford asked Smitherman.
According to documents unearthed by the Toronto Star, Karli Farrow left Smitherman's office in 2007. In January 2009, she billed eHealth Ontario for almost $11,000 worth of work performed over a three-week period.
Smitherman said eHealth came to life after he had moved on to become energy and infrastructure minister in June 2008, "so the assertion that you've made is impossible."
Earlier Tuesday, the YWCA issued a statement attacking Ford, saying Torontonians should "think twice" about what type of mayor he might be.
It said he voted against a 68-unit women's resident and child-care centre in his Etobicoke North ward in 2005.
Ford said the people in the neighbourhood wanted a retirement home. "So I did exactly what my constituents wanted me to do. I said, 'I'm going to fight for a retirement home'."
After losing the vote, Ford said he was at the opening of the YWCA and the facility is now part of the community.