Rob Ford campaign wins praise
Rob Ford had a huge turnout at his victory party Monday night which featured a who's who of past and present politicians, all ready to heap praise on the newly elected Toronto mayor.
Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, as well as Jim Flaherty, the federal finance minister, were on hand to celebrate Ford's victory. And no matter the political stripe of the attendees, all praised Ford for the impressive victory that the veteran city politician posted.
"I think he ran a consistent, clean, small government, small "c" conservative-type government. I think he demonstrated that if you're consistent and that you campaign that way and conduct yourself that way Torontonians will respond," Harris told CBC News.
Ford ran on a consistent platform that called for fiscal austerity, while pledging repeatedly that he would "stop the gravy train" at city hall.
The Etobicoke politician promised to scrap the city's vehicle registration fee and land transfer tax, dedicate transit resources to building subway lines instead of light rail, phase out streetcars in favour of low-emission buses and cut city staff through attrition.
This fiscally-conscious stance resonated with the majority of Torontonians still reeling from the effects of the downturn in the economy.
Ford garnered 47.1 per cent of the vote, compared with 35.6 per cent for former provincial Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman. Deputy mayor Joe Pantalone trailed with 11.7 per cent.
Ford's campaign strategist Nick Kouvalis said his camp ran a simple campaign that appealed to the average voter.
"Identify your voters, raise money and lock them in. Get five bucks from everybody and they're all committed to you instead of trying to get 2,500 bucks from a few people," Kouvalis said. "People switch their votes but once they make that donation even if it's 50 bucks they are with you."
Even Smitherman lauded Ford.
"He had a tightly focused campaign," Smitherman told supporters Monday. "He has provided a valuable reminder to city council that taxpayers' dollars must be treated with respect."
But one-time mayoral candidate John Tory said Toronto's new council has some work to do. The now-chair of Toronto City Summit Alliance said there wasn't enough talk about the city's economic future during the months-long mayoral campaign.
"The main thing for me is that I believe the city is evolving into two solitudes. It has been for a long time," he told CBC Radio in a Tuesday interview. "We have got to address that and that isn't just a social issue, it's an economic issue. It's a financial issue."