TORONTO — The race to unseat Toronto’s scandal-plagued mayor began to take shape Monday, as two new challengers entered the fray, including high-profile candidate John Tory.
Despite admitting to smoking crack cocaine while in office, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is running for re-election. He says he’s confident he can win and has dismissed criticism of his drug use, alcohol binges and surreptitiously videotaped profane rants as mere personal attacks.
Not long after Tory and former TTC chairwoman Karen Stintz registered to run for mayor, Ford called in to a Toronto radio station to tout his record.
The Newstalk1010 host Jerry Agar asked Ford if he could guarantee no more “embarrassing videos” would emerge during the remainder of the campaign and four more years as mayor if he is re-elected.
“Talk is cheap,” Ford said. “Actions speak louder than words.”
Agar noted that the mayor has said that previously, then a video surfaced in January showing Ford rambling in a Jamaican accent and using profanity. Ford admitted he had been drinking, despite vows he had given up alcohol.
“You may be perfect, maybe the rest of society is perfect, all I know is that my record speaks for itself,” Ford countered in the radio interview. “I’m a real person…I’m straight up.”
Though the field of mayoral candidates is now at a crowded 31 people, Tory is seen as one of Ford’s few credible challengers.
The former president and CEO of Rogers Media and Rogers Cable was a successful businessman and most recently a radio host, but he has a dodgy electoral history to overcome.
Tory ran for mayor in 2003 but lost to David Miller. As leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives he failed to win his own seat in the 2007 election. Then when another member of the legislature gave up her seat so Tory could run in a byelection he lost again and resigned as leader.
Tory was surrounded by a throng of reporters as he ended months of speculation by filing his registration papers Monday, and was asked how he could combat any attacks coming from Ford and Ford’s brother, who is the mayor’s campaign manager.
“My challenge is to put forward a positive campaign about the future of the city and that’s what I’m going to do,” said Tory.
“I have ideas on making the city livable…I’ll talk about my positive ideas. How others choose to run their campaigns is entirely up to them.”
Though Tory stayed away from any trash talk, the mayor’s brother didn’t waste any time criticizing Tory and framing the race as one between the “little guy” and the “elites.”