The path to Toronto City Hall has been a wild ride this election cycle. First-time candidates say it has been especially tough trying to plan how to spend their time amid the uncertainty of the upcoming municipal election.
“I have a schedule for the week, but every day I check in with our team to see does this still make sense,” said Jennifer Hollett, a candidate in the newly created Ward 21. “Sometimes it’s like ‘Oh, now there’s a court hearing, let’s scrap the day,’ or ‘today there’s a protest.'”
Other candidates say they continue to hear about confusion among local voters, given that the electoral map may change.
“I think that residents are uncertain of who the candidates are running in the area,” said Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam. “Candidates are unsure of which ward they will be running in because it seems to be changing week by week.”
Incumbent Gary Crawford from Scarborough is in favour of having 25 wards, but he isn’t a fan of the process or Premier Doug Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause.
Crawford’s election strategy hasn’t changed much; it’s simply meant that he’s had to cover more ground.
“It’s a new area. I used to be the school board trustee so I kind of know the area,” Crawford said Sunday while out on the campaign trail. “I am reintroducing myself to people, but people are people: whether it’s my ward or this ward, they just want to talk.”
All eyes will turn once again to Queen’s Park Sunday night and early Monday morning, as Ford has called a rare session of the legislature to begin at 12:01 a.m.
Some council hopefuls plan to be there.
“I refuse to let Toronto’s democracy be destroyed in the dark,” said Hollett. “I think having a presence is important — you know, looking at Doug Ford and the PCs in their eyes… we are going to continue to put on that pressure.”
The pressure and criticism is also coming from people who have been in the premier’s seat before, including Kathleen Wynne.
“This whole notion that creating chaos in the city of Toronto is necessary, it’s just ridiculous and it shouldn’t be happening,” Wynne told reporters Sunday morning. “We are in for some very rocky times.”
That sentiment has been echoed by candidates hoping to lead the city after the election.
“What we need (to say) right now to the premier is look, this isn’t necessary. Why are you doing this now?” mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat said.
“If you would like to appeal the judge’s decision please go ahead and do that, but invoking the notwithstanding clause is not acceptable.”