Chris Selley: With Ford out of the running, Toronto mayoral race now wide open

One of the major consequences of Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario PC leadership race is that — barring a series of events even more bewildering than those we’ve witnessed since Jan. 24 — he will not contest the 2018 campaign for mayor of Toronto. Of course, if his party wins a majority on June 7, he’ll probably be even better positioned to exert his individual will over city affairs than the mayor — and that could be very bad news for whoever wins the municipal election on Oct. 22. All of this city’s ambitions come with an asterisk, and the footnote reads “assuming the federal and provincial governments chip in their traditional 1/3 share of the cost.”

But as many on the city’s left have jubilantly observed, this could change the dynamics of the race entirely: no longer must full-blown progressives consider voting for John Tory for fear of Doug Ford. Even starker alternatives can now enter the race without fear of splitting the not-Ford vote. They can hold Tory to account for perceived deficiencies in his city-building agenda and advance a different and more ambitious agenda that involves collecting significantly more revenues — or a less ambitious agenda that collects fewer revenues, for that matter, but doesn’t also promise everyone a free steak every Saturday night. In short, it’s something of a liberation.

It’s frustrating as hell that the Family Ford’s brand of know-nothing pay-less-and-get-more subways-subways-subways populism has so much currency in this city. I’m still heartened that Tory managed to overcome it, and I think he has done a reasonable job trying to nudge this unwanted and unloved 20-year-old political mashup of a city toward coherence and maturity without sacrificing his own reelection prospects, and I really don’t understand how a mayor who championed the long-dreamed-of Bloor Street bike …read more

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