Is Toronto really all that divided?
Just in case you were holding out hope – the election results in Toronto are now official.
No recounts. No judicial reviews.
Toronto’s city clerk Ulli S. Watkiss has signed off on all the numbers, officially closing the book on the 2014 Municipal Election.
Now we wait for the new mayor and council to be sworn in on December.
But we media types are an impatient bunch and are pressured to feed the beast daily, hourly and up to the minute. In our breathless post-election effort to do so, we’ve started carving up the electoral results and noting that the city “remains” split when you look at the Tory vote versus the Ford vote.
At first blush, there is a stark partitioning. But take a closer look at the numbers and we don’t have the kind of division you might think.
Look at the ward by ward voting results for the mayoralty election.
Doug Ford won 20 of 44.
Olivia Chow won 3 of 44.
Looks like a major split – except when you consider the second choices.
John Tory finished second in 21 wards – meaning he was the first or second choice in all but two wards in the city.
Doug Ford was second in 11 wards.
Ford and Tory were first or second in 29 of the 44 wards.
There are many days we overthink things and in the effort to find a wedge issue, we’ve overlooked the fact that Ford and Tory are both fiscal conservatives who are committed to keeping taxes low, finding efficiencies, and demanding better service. They both supported the Scarborough subway. They both favour the use of Tax Increment Financing to help pay for large infrastructure projects. (Ford says he wouldn’t have used it as a sole source of financing.)
The biggest difference between the two of them is the circus. Ford’s tent comes with three rings. Tory claims his tent is more inclusive. That’s what the election was ultimately all about.
We are correct to say 60 per cent didn’t vote for Tory. We are also correct to say he can’t ignore the 1 in 3 voters who support the Ford agenda.
Torontonians didn’t reject the Ford agenda, they rejected the Fords.
But isn’t it a bigger issue that nearly 3 out 4 Torontonians said “No” to the left wing agenda at city hall?
Look at the five wards where the incumbent endorsed Olivia Chow and John Tory was the winner in three of those wards (13, 21, and 28). He also beat Chow in ward 20 (where Joe Cressy won), ward 27 (where Kristyn Wong-Tam won), and in ward 30 (where Paula Fletcher won).
It’s superficial and short-sighted to suggest there is an urban-suburban split in Toronto. It’s a little too neat and tidy to say it’s “subways versus LRTs.”
The real split that Tory has to address is Toronto’s growing economic divide. The diversity of incomes, not race or culture, is quickly becoming the weak spot in a city where the coat of arms boasts “Diversity Our Strength.”