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Will competing Toronto mayoral endorsements spark change in final campaign days?

Click to play video: 'Bailao’s Tory endorsement continues to field tough questions'
Bailao’s Tory endorsement continues to field tough questions
WATCH: Wednesday’s John Tory endorsement of Ana Bailão is continuing to have a ripple effect on the mayoral campaign. Bailão is facing a barrage of questions about the issue. Matthew Bingley reports – Jun 22, 2023

The mayoral race has entered its final sprint as arguably the two biggest names in Toronto politics weigh in with competing robocalls.

On Thursday, the voices of both former mayor John Tory and sitting premier Doug Ford could be heard in robocalls, urging voters to support competing candidates.

The two men endorsed rival campaigns on Wednesday. Tory came out in support of Ana Bailão, his former deputy mayor, and Ford confirmed his already apparent support for former police chief Mark Saunders.

The two endorsements were blasted across the city in robocalls. “Please make sure you, your family and friends all go out and vote for Mark Saunders,” Ford can be heard saying in the call.

In his endorsement, Tory said Bailão was “best equipped” to handle Toronto’s top job. He said collaboration and pragmatism were key attributes.

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But will the two big-name endorsements be enough to move the needle in a race where front-runner Olivia Chow appears to have an unassailable lead? Pollster Darrell Bricker doesn’t think so.

The Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs told Global News the endorsements could cause some “shuffling” among the second-place candidates and spark a little momentum but would be unlikely to change the result.

“I think at this stage of the game, a John Tory endorsement probably cuts both ways: I’m sure there’s enough people in the city of Toronto who are displeased by the fact that this situation was caused by John Tory,” he said.

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“Having the mayor that caused the election endorsing you says that you don’t represent much of a change, either.”

Of the Ford endorsement, Bricker pointed out that the premier’s relative unpopularity in the historic City of Toronto — where provincial seats are largely held by NDP and Liberal candidates — is unlikely to help Saunders win in an area where he is already weak.

Support for the former police chief is strongest in the edges of the city and weaker in the former City of Toronto at just eight per cent, according to a poll conducted for Global News by Ipsos earlier in June. The poll suggested he would enjoy 19 per cent of the popular vote in North York, 18 per cent in Etobicoke and 16 per cent in Scarborough.

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The race to replace Tory as Toronto’s next mayor has been characterized by a series of high-profile candidates — a former police chief, cabinet minister, councillors and newspaper columnist — jockeying for second place. Ipsos’s recent polling for Global News put Chow at 38 per cent of the popular vote, with second place polling at 14 per cent.

The competing endorsements from Tory and Ford, two men who have shared a strong public relationship in recent years, summarizes the inability to coalesce around an anti-Chow candidate, Bricker said.

“You’ve got two significant leaders for people who have more of a conservative outlook in terms of what the right outlook is relatively to this mayor’s election and they can’t agree,” he told Global News.

“Maybe if both of them had endorsed the same person, there might be something that you could pull out of this, (but) doubtful that it would be enough to beat Olivia Chow.”

The election will be held on Monday, June 26.

— with files from Global News’ Matthew Bingley

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