Toronto mayoral race: Who’s who?

by | Mar 20, 2014 | News

By Glyn Bowerman, George Halim and Amy Stubbs

Yet another candidate has joined the race Thursday as Sarah Thompson rode to city hall in a carriage to officially declare herself.

Thompson is joining the race in an election that boasts the most political heavyweights in recent memory.

Voters will go to the polls on Oct. 27, 2014, and there are already a slew of candidates confident they can replace current Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Through allegations of liquor and narcotic use, Ford Nation has stood strong by the embattled mayor’s side, but early polls do not have him slated for re-election.

Here’s a profile of the major candidates running for Toronto mayor.

John Tory

In 2003, David Miller became Toronto mayor, as John Tory finished a close second.

At the time, Tory was deflated and defeated. He had a lot to prove, and eleven years later, he’s an early candidate to beat current Mayor Rob Ford.

Since his election loss, he has been chairman of the Canadian Football League, saving it from financial turmoil in the mid-90s. He was also the CEO of Rogers Communications.

Politically, he was the MPP of Dufferin-Peel from 2005-2007. In 2004 he became leader of the Ontario PC Party, holding that position until 2009.

Should Tory be elected, his top priority is transit, specifically building a downtown subway relief line to ease congestion.

Olivia Chow

Chow is best known as the widow of the late Jack Layton, former federal leader of the New Democrats and the man who lead the orange wave in 2011.

Most notably, Chow is the reason non-english-speaking people can dial 911 and speak to someone of their native tongue. The multilingual 911 service is now offered in 140 languages.

As of most recent polls, she joins John Tory as a potential front-runner to succeed current Mayor Ford at Toronto city hall.

Due to her NDP ties, opponents are inclined to label her as a tax and spend type mayor, a claim she thoroughly denies.

If elected, Chow made it clear that she would bury any idea of a Scarborough subway and stick to above-ground light rail transit.  She claims it would be cheaper, more efficient, and quicker/easier to build.

David Soknacki

Soknacki is the former budget chief of former Toronto mayor David Miller. That relationship didn’t last, as Soknacki didn’t support Miller’s 2003 platform, ultimately voting for John Tory – who now sits across the table.

Like Tory, Soknacki is a businessman, founding and operating Ecom Food Industries, since its creation in 1983. The company makes and exports herb and spice ingredients for commercial use and sells its products in over 30 countries.

He was first elected to office in 1994 in the pre-amalgamated City of Scarborough. A couple years after his three year tenure, Soknacki won a by-election and two general elections to represent Scarborough-East.

Should he be elected, Soknacki plans to fight commuter and political gridlock.

He plans on cancelling the Bloor-Danforth subway extension and, like Chow, replace it with the cost-efficient LRT.

He also plans on giving more leeway to anyone wanting to start a small business through reforms to Toronto’s business license.

Karen Stintz

Stintz made herself known as a councillor and  TTC chair, until she stepped down to set forward her mayoral candidacy.

Under Stintz’s watch, the TTC has made some drastic customer improvements, including free Wi-Fi at select subway stations, the Crisis Link suicide prevention program and the Presto fare card system.

But with the good comes the bad, and the TTC was also forced to cut loading standards. That meant even more packed buses, and weekend service that are now essentially non-existent.

Politically, she ran for office in 2003 and has since been councillor for Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence. If elected, Stintz wants to dig a downtown relief subway line, reform the land transfer tax, and support a joint Toronto-U.S. bid for the 2026 World Cup.

What’s interesting about Stintz is her take on the Gardiner Expressway, where she wants to explore a “hybrid” solution for the eastern part of the roadway.

Rob Ford

He’s Toronto’s scandal plagued mayor, alleged to have smoked crack.

From his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, to having his own hidden-camera section on YouTube, Ford is still a serious candidate for the October election.

Some Toronto residents find his “charm” amiable, while others think he’s driving the city into the ground.

Of the candidates listed here, Ford is the least educated, with a high school diploma and enrolment at Carleton University for one year.

But it hasn’t all been bad.

Ford is to thank for many of the transparency protocols around councillor office expenses (most of the time), as well as stiffer rules on what councillors can spend tax dollars on.

Should he be re-elected, nothing will change. The city will still be in an LRT and subway battle and the gravy train  will continue to be a myth.