Bald Man Out

According to the Toronto Star this past Saturday, the city’s mayoral race has become a 3-way, conveniently split along clear, easy-to-follow ideological lines. Rob Ford on the right, Joe Pantalone on the left and George Smitherman smack dab in the middle. So perfect is the alignment that one might think it was hand made to fit an orderly narrative. Unlike the real world, no nuances here, folks, at the Toronto Star.

How did such clean lines come about? Well, according to the Star, the wheels have come off the Rocco Rossi campaign bus. His whole schtick to date had been the crusading outsider riding into town to clean up the mess created by profligate taxing and spending. Rossi was the right of centre, anti-incumbent populist and he carried some momentum early on.

That is until councillor Rob Ford entered the fray. He wasn’t just simply right of centre. He was a true blue right wing conservative with no Liberal stain on his resumé. Ford was well-known for lavishing attention on his (and other councillors) constituents, promptly returning their phone calls. So, he had the populist angle covered. For disgruntled right wing voters, Rob Ford was the real deal.

This left Rossi with only the anti-incumbent banner to fly. While a potent element in a race where the electorate is restive and believe that things are going to hell in a hand basket, it may not be enough to sustain a nearly 10 month campaign especially if the frontrunner with more name recognition is attempting to sail an identical tack. See: George Smitherman as crusading outsider riding into town to clean up the mess created by profligate taxing and spending.

It hasn’t helped Rossi that his platform so far has been underwhelming. Selling off publicly owned assets isn’t an easy pitch to anyone who remembers or drives the 407 not to mention that it makes absolutely no economic sense to anyone other than ideologues and those on the investment side of the equation. His subway plan doesn’t add up even to those who would like more subways built. The latest 6 point economic initiative to create a quarter million jobs in Toronto that he floated last week seems, as the Star stated, vague.

If elected, Rossi vows to “Work at creating growth across the entire 416-905 region.” Then he’d “Tout Toronto-based bank performance during the recession, building on the city’s reputation as an emerging world financial centre.” Etc., etc., broad generalizations and the use of other very active verbs to give the impression of doing something.

All stance and very little substance. Once you cede the stance to a more qualified or well known poseur, there wasn’t much left for any voter to get behind. Even before the dog days of summer, or at least the official dog days of summer roll around, Rossi finds himself in irons, floundering with no direction and little wind behind him.

At least, that’s how the Toronto Star sees it at the moment. The Rossi campaign is dead in the water, torpedoing not only his own chances but apparently those of the other 22 candidates as well, winnowing it down to a 3 man race. That way, I guess, the Star won’t have to do too much multitasking when it comes to their election coverage. Now if only there was a way for them to figure out how to eliminate Joe Pantalone and get it down to just two contenders. It would make everything that much simpler.

not unhappily but warily submitted by Cityslikr

4 Responses to Bald Man Out

  1. David Hunter says:

    Hi $*&%#

    Love yr blog and agree with your conclusion on Rossi’s chances, but I’m not convinced that it’s even as complicated as real issues for most voters. So much aparently comes down to optics, and in my view Rossi screwed himself on optics really early in the game.

    His timing has been horrible and his team seems inept at keeping him informed. For example, he roundly criticized Smitherman for failing to show up and discuss some ‘burning’ issue publicly a couple of months back, dismissively accusing George of being ‘missing in action’.

    Turns out Smitherman had taken a couple of days to bring his newly adopted baby son home. OOPs. Rossi instantly looked like a heartless jackass to the ‘family values’ crowd. By the way- Anyone know if Rossi even has a family? This is local politics.

    BTW- hear … you loved China Me too! Awesome transformation eh? These guys scare the shit out of me
    take care
    Dave Hunter

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear, Mr. Hunter.

      Yes, it’s becoming clear why Mr. Rossi remained a political insider for most of his career. Might also explain why John Tory didn’t defeat David Miller for mayor back in `03, what with one Rocco Rossi as his campaign manager. According to Wikipedia, Rossi is also “a personal advisor to federal Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff”. Possible reason for Ignatieff’s tepid connection with voters?

      Yes, China was a real eye-opener for us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke. Not so much scary but fascinating. Find it funny that they’re being thought of as catching up to us when, in many ways, they’ve surpassed us. Too many cars, though, for our liking.

  2. Esn says:

    According to that article, the shape of the campaign has been decided by councillor Adam Vaughan. Who is that guy?

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Esn,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke seem to remember Mr. Vaughan being a journalist. So the Star is on safe ground using his views to anchor their story.

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