Doug Ford, the brother of former mayor Rob Ford, is becoming the mayor of Toronto again.
Doug Ford, a Toronto city councillor, won a special election Thursday for the spot in Toronto’s executive committee left vacant by the death of former mayor Rob Ford. Ford will not serve a full term, as the small-government conservatism of his brother has been reinforced by Doug Ford’s embrace of the gospel of tax cuts and promises to further demolish tax burdens on families.
Ford is facing growing opposition from the province and the federal government, which opposes any attempt to interfere with transportation decisions in Toronto. But many of his election opponents questioned whether the ailing mayor of the city was listening to them.
People who made their way to the polls in Thursday’s special election, which was only the fifth held in Toronto since 1946, are left with little reason to question their choices. A poll conducted before the election showed a wide lead for Ford, who expressed an admiration for President Trump, promises to lower property taxes, and vows to have a policy review of police services in Toronto.
Ford also said that even though he had never worked in transportation, the case for one of the city’s main arteries, Queen’s Park Road, should not be ignored because of health care concerns.
“As you drive down Ontario Road, there’s only one way to go through a congested intersection, and that’s into a heart attack,” he said. “I’ve got to do something about this … In the past, an engineering study was done … [and] it came back that that intersection, all the people who would come there, don’t have safety concerns. There was no problem, people came safely from North York, South York and Etobicoke.”
But it was not the merits of that intersection that resonated with many voting with Ford; it was the status quo — a politician who may just fit the swing voter’s profile of disaffected.
“With all of the big money there, [Ford] doesn’t have a chance — but there’s a lot of people out there who feel that Doug Ford will challenge the status quo,” said Gordon Wilson, a 77-year-old retired Toronto businessman.
Dickson Cromwell, a 37-year-old business manager at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said, “I’m voting with Doug Ford because he’s the only one that has the courage to tell city council that the transit lines need to be improved.”
Laura Sem, who works as a housekeeper and also works as a casting director, said, “I would like to see a mayor that would speak for the little guy, but I don’t know that Doug Ford is that.”
The stakes are certainly not low for the rest of the province, however. The Ford administration may be beholden to a small caucus of right-wingers — despite Doug Ford’s claims to the contrary — and voters are known to respond to a strong leader who is able to give voice to ordinary citizens.
The province has still expressed concern about the cost of transporting the mayor’s funeral procession, something that would presumably require a priority in the new administration. With Ford’s political options fully open, the province may have to do more than wait until the conclusion of Toronto’s civic elections on Oct. 22. It may have to act sooner.
For now, the province may be hoping that Ford’s call for a new highway leads to a one-road solution, a highway that is up to date and up to speed, one that comes without the delays that a lot of people are feeling.
Editor’s note: This post was updated with corrected information on Doug Ford’s age.