Strike one from the Toronto mayoral hopefuls.

Sarah Thomson has run out of money and has barely inched the polls in her favour. She also wants to do her bit to stop the Ford locomotive. 

I’m sorry to see her go, not only because she was the sole female candidate for mayor, but because she may be a casualty of what is an ugly campaign.

While Pantalone tries to maintain a sunny disposition, the other candidates would have you believe that Toronto sits on the fifth circle of hell, the place where wrath and sullenness reign.

Our services are models of inefficiency. Dollars are frittered away by lackadaisical civil servants. Taxes are gobbled up by mascot-suit-wearingshrill-voice-fixing Gino Boys and Wastes of Skin councillors.

If you believe the over-blown rhetoric and propaganda, the city is in such dire straits, terminal even, that it’s astounding any of these candidates want to run the joint.

But they all know the city isn’t hopeless – they’re banking on you thinking it is so you can help usher in that deus ex machina, that mayor wielding an even bigger broom.

In addition to playing the politics of rage, it’s worrisome that this campaign has come to focus on stopping one candidate’s ascent.

When you have otherwise intelligent citizens imploring other candidates to drop out to prevent one person from wearing the mayor’s chain, democracy is battered and bruised indeed.

Do I like Ford and his facile notion of spending and cutting? Of course not. The man, as passionate as he may be, has no vision for the city. He doesn’t love Toronto. He sees it as a wasteful enterprise with no redeeming values.

But this doesn’t mean that we sacrifice democracy for the sake of one man. Ford, try as he might and wish as he may, will not be able to sink this city. If elected, he’ll foul up, he’ll find many councillors won’t rally around him as anticipated, and he’ll be a one-trick pony – a footnote like mayors Hall and Rowlands and even Lastman. Hell, he’s already over-promising (good luck asking councillors to vote themselves out of a job) and will under-deliver.

And who’s to say if it’s a Smitherman-Ford race that Smitherman will win? Some polls show some possible outcomes, but the undecideds will have an impact. And as far as fiscal policies go, there isn’t a lot of daylight between Smitherman and Ford (and both are men of great rage, so either way we’d have a red-faced shouter and council alienator as mayor).

If we want a real contest, one where two candidates couldn’t be more different in substance, policy and presentation, it would be Pantalone versus Ford.

But that’s only if the other candidates drop out, something I’m not suggesting should happen.

If we want to improve the democratic process we should be looking at reforming the way we elect our mayors. Catherine Porter, writing in The Star, recommends ranked choice voting. You rank your picks for mayor and the candidate who received the fewest first-choice votes is removed from the ballot with votes transferring to the second choice.

Perhaps the only fundamental thing broken with Toronto is the way in which we vote for our mayors.

Eric Mang

Eric Mang

Eric Mang served as a political aide in the Harris government in Ontario and the Campbell government in British Columbia. His politics have since shifted left. He works full-time in health policy, part-time...