Split vote likely in upcoming mayoral election

John Tory, the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, officially registered as a Toronto mayoral candidate Monday morning. Ninety minutes later, former TTC chair Karen Stintz did the same.

Both right-leaning, Stintz and Tory have launched mayoral bids with platforms that seem to mirror each other. Both campaigns will focus on keeping taxes low and developing additional north-south subway lines. Neither candidate has gotten specific on where subway funding would come from, if not tax increases.

In his campaign announcement video, Tory condemned “gridlock” at city hall, an apparent jab at Mayor Rob Ford’s polarizing leadership style.

Stintz has also been public about her belief that Ford has betrayed the city, and that Toronto is in need of a more suitable leader.

But if the goal of these two candidates is to unseat Ford for the betterment of Toronto, perhaps Stintz should reconsider the pledge she made Monday to remain in the running until the very end, instead of dropping out early to prevent vote-splitting.

Right-of-centre voters who are sick of Ford now have two candidates with similar platforms to choose from in Stintz and Tory. David Soknacki, a former Scarborough councillor and David Miller’s first-term budget chief, is another option for voters who consider themselves fiscal conservatives, but don’t want the drama that could come with “Ford more years.”

But an increasing number of conservative mayoral candidates means the vote will almost certainly be split among them. That and Ford’s unshakeable base could give him the edge he needs to return to city hall for a second term. With one strong opposition candidate, this result would be less likely.

Early numbers suggest Tory stands more of a chance at mayoralty than Stintz. So if she truly wants the best for Toronto, she should revoke her pledge to stick it out until October, and months from now, if a vote split is imminent, throw her weight behind a stronger candidate. To do otherwise is irresponsible.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 26, 2014.


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