Thursday, August 28, 2014

Toronto, choose your boo! Four candidates, but three of them don't really want to be mayor.

As the latest polls show mayoral candidate Olivia Chow's campaign stymied by negative momentum, I began to wonder why. My initial thought is that Chow is this year's George Smitherman: she was the first "big name" to announce, and she brought her own (leftist) constituency as a solid base. This immediately made her the front runner.

The she did the most ill advised, advised thing that front runners do. Somewhere in the political playbook, it's kosher for front runners to run a boring, inoffensive campaign. The aim is to avoid negative attention and to limit fodder for your opponents and the media to throw you off course. In my limited experience, this never works. What ends up happening is that voters are uninspired by these cautious front runners, and voters lose connection to the candidate due to difficulties understanding what said front runner stands for -- that is beyond the name recognition that allowed the candidate to be the front runner.

Herein lies Chow's problem. Of course she's for "progressive" things, and she wants better transit with a downtown relief line. Such topics have been discussed ad nauseam for as long as I can remember. These policies don't allow Chow to stand out. Where is her fresh take? Sure I see her shamelessly pandering at pride parties, Caribana galas, and EDM festivals, but what's the message that she's bringing to these events?

She's PROGRESSIVE. Yes, I know she's progressive, and if I didn't know, her "not-exactly-red" army would tell me. However, without a tangible idea, her progressiveness is meaningless. My theory: it's meaningless because she's not sure what she brings. She seemed to enjoy the prospect of being mayor when her anti-Ford coronation was a foregone conclusion. When things changed, and with less and less encouraging poll results, Chow hasn't shown why she wants to be Mayor exactly when it's most critical. Anyone can love this stuff on the good days, but the real test is whether you still love it enough during the not so good days. I'm unconvinced that her heart is in it. Without that, there's no connection with voters.

Chow is not alone, though. John Tory, of Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne, and David Miller defeat fame, hasn't exactly been brilliant in expressing his desire to replace Rob Ford. First came the speculations whether he would. Then when it became unofficially official, he still wouldn't confirm. It seemed like your high maintenance friend who won't come to your party unless you gave him/her a personal invite despite the fact that just like everyone else, he or she received a Facebook event invite. Ok I tried. What I'm really saying is that John Tory asked the electorate, "are you sure you sure?" about five times before he finally decided this mayoral race was worthy. Dither much?

To his credit, his team has done a better of being the boring front runner, but much of this might be caused by our preoccupation with Chow's descent. Additionally, in the past, Tory has been the boring front runner who tried to not be boring. He sabotaged his chance at being Premier by opening the religious school funding can of worms. With history in mind, counting the number of days that have gone by that Tory hasn't euthanized his campaign has been sufficient distraction from the fact that he's a boring front runner. Plus let's face it, he's the current best chance to beat Ford, so eggshells.

Then there's Ford. Enough has been written about this man, so not much more space needs to be dedicated to him. He's had the job as mayor, but he frequently doesn't show up - allegedly. When he does show up, he's sometimes late, and sometimes intoxicated - allegedly. With that and all the other mess that he's gotten into, that's not someone who acts like they really want their job.

Who's left? Soknacki of course. He has little name recognition, and that might be too great of a hindrance. He's tried to overcome that with ideas on police budgets, re-imagined transit policy, well-executed social media presence, and a few other policies that make any poli sci nerd giddy. He doesn't have charisma in abundance, and this might be near impossible to overcome. What he does have though is an eagerness. This is the type of eagerness that's not doused by a bad poll or a bad day. He was one of or the first "major" candidates to register, and since then, he's been heavy on policy and light on political soap opera. Unlike the other candidates mentioned who treat this job as a hobby, or one candidate in particular who takes his job for granted (ALLEGEDLY!), David Soknacki wants this job.

Friends have told me you should only be in a relationship with someone who likewise wants to be in that relationship. Well the Mayor is our collective boo for the next four years. What kind of relationship do we want?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cute story Ray.