The Mayor’s Race – Rob Ford, John Tory, Karen Stintz….. and Chow

The municipal election is scheduled for October 27 – four months away.  Enough time to think, to research, to ask questions, to make a decision, to change your mind, whatever.  For me, the story is just beginning.

So many of you have asked me “how come I won’t ever knock Rob Ford”? The answer is simple. TIFF.

In 2012, a group of us involved in the Jewish community found out that TIFF, whose festival runs every year for ten days from the first Thursday in September, had, for whatever reason, decided to move its 2013 awards gala from the last day of the festival to the day before.

That “day before” turned out to be Yom Kippur.  My blogs on TIFF in September, 2012 and May, 2013, tell the full story.

By early 2013, with no response from TIFF other than stonewalling, it was time for me to either zipper it and move on or pull out the political tactics that I had once known so well.  I chose the latter.  Several politicos from all three levels of government were contacted.  And who rose up to stand with us on the issue that Yom Kippur had to be respected by a publicly funded event?

Mayor Rob Ford, Councillor Frank DiGiorgio, Councillor Doug Ford, Conservative MP, CS Leung, Willowdale.  That’s it!  Wasp, Italian, Asian.  Not one Jewish politician would speak publicly – and it was not surprising that no one in the McGuinty government even responded to our requests for help. Still we kept up the pressure and then:

In early June, 2013, after midnight, TIFF posted an online announcement that its awards presentation was being moved back to Sunday, Sept 15.

I t could not have happened without the help of the Mayor – he wasn’t afraid to stand up for us.  Many in our community never forget that kind of support.  I am one of them.  And now let’s move on.

Though Karen Stintz is very low in the polls, I like the way she talks and the way she looks.  The polls say the race is between Ford and Tory and Chow.  Several people are concerned about Chow and think that Ford and Tory will split the sensible vote and Chow will slip in.  So far, polls have not been very accurate – the provincial election is a good example.

I don’t know why John Tory doesn’t evoke much passion.  He is certainly well prepared, is a successful business man, he speaks well – but he can’t jolt the crowd.  I never expected him to run again, but here he is.  So let’s see what his people can put together in the next few weeks – they get paid lots of money – they should have to deliver something.

And then there is Chow.  Once upon a time she and her late husband Jack were municipals.  That’s where I first came in contact with them, indirectly.  I was in the “show me, tell me, explain to me,” world of learning how the system works – how certain politicians work – and how to reach the final goal with the least hassle.  But that was then – and the issue of Chow ever becoming Mayor of Toronto is for now.

This blog is the first of “I don’t yet know how many I will be writing” focussing on Chow.  I work with a small group of outstanding researchers led by my friend Judy, probably one of the best.  They have tracked down documentation relevant to Chow advertising for proxies and votes from residents of Hong Kong who own condos in Toronto.  These include people who came to Canada as immigrants, some claimed refugee status and when they were granted citizenship, returned to Hong Kong and now live there.  It is an issue not only relevant for those in Asia – but a matter the federal government is looking into elsewhere in other countries.

As well, people who own properties in Toronto and aren’t citizens can give proxies to someone like Chow who can then use them to supplement her election numbers.

I was shocked.  Why should people who live thousands of miles away have any input on what Toronto’s transit system should be about, what our kids’ education curriculum teaches, what social housing should include and, shades of Chow’s beloved Miller, whether bike lanes should take precedence on major roads.  I mean, without the people who actually work and pay realty tax, how could Toronto thrive?  And if those same taxpayers have major obstacles in getting to work in the city, won’t they look for more accessible locations in the 905 area?

So I asked if this was legal.  Apparently it is – at the moment.

“According to Toronto’s election guide, non-resident Canadian citizens are eligible to vote in the October 27 election so long as they or their spouse owns or rents property in the city.  A spokesman for the Toronto City Clerk’s office also said that non-resident voters in the municipal polls may cast ballots by appointing a proxy who is an eligible voter”.

It seems to me that if you are not filing tax returns as a Canadian resident, then you shouldn’t be able to vote in ANY Canadian election.  What do you think?

Now Chow has, like so many other politicians as well as ordinary folk, had plenty to say about Rob Ford.  But after a first glance at this stuff, her self-righteous position seems quite hypocritical.  If she is soliciting votes from foreigners, she must promise them something in return. More research came up with some actual ads/quotes from Chow in the South China Morning Post.

“Toronto is your city too.  You may want to come back to retire or invest” is a quote attributed to her.

What kind of rationalization is that? How can it be right, even it turns out to be legal, for someone who lives and works and pays taxes in Hong Kong to be considered a Torontonian who can vote in our elections?

Anyhow, this needs more research – more answers – and some of those answers have to come from Chow and from our own government.

So stay tuned.  This story isn’t over.  It is just beginning.