Why Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford isn't seeking endorsements

Olivia Chow and John Tory have been stockpiling endorsements over the course of their respective campaigns to be the next mayor of Toronto, while Doug Ford has said he won't be chasing such nods of approval.

What's more important? Chasing endorsements or 'the endorsement from the people'?

Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford says he hasn't been chasing endorsements during the current campaign. (CBC)

Doug Ford says he doesn't feel he needs to rely on political endorsements in order to be the city's next mayor.

"As I've always said and will continue to say, it's not about the political insiders and all the consultants and all the lobbyists, it's about the people," Ford told reporters yesterday.

As Toronto went to the polls four years ago, Ford and his brother instead captured what he described as "the endorsement from the people."

Back then, Rob Ford appeared just as publicly skeptical as his brother about the importance of endorsements.

Shortly before the 2010 election, Rob Ford publicly downplayed the importance of endorsements in electoral results. (CBC)

"I don't think they play that big of a role," Ford said, just a couple of weeks before he was elected mayor.

But it's not like the future mayor of Toronto failed to snag any endorsements back in 2010.

The late Jim Flaherty, who was then the federal finance minister, endorsed him in his successful mayoral bid, as did several of the people who would surround Ford on council.

This time it is Doug Ford who is seeking "the endorsement from the people," in place of his ailing brother.

Asked Tuesday if he had sought any endorsements so far, Ford told reporters that he hadn't felt it was necessary.

"No, I haven't went around and I haven't made deals, I haven't negotiated deals because that's what it takes to get these endorsements," he said. "I don't need to do that, we didn't need to do it before."

'They very rarely hurt you'

Taking a general pass on endorsements is a philosophy that seems far removed from the one rivals Olivia Chow and John Tory are using to guide their path along the campaign trail in 2014.

John Tory has a long list of endorsements on his website. Politicians, athletes and television personalities are among the people supporting his bid to be Toronto's next mayor. (CBC)

Chow and Tory each have dozens of endorsements listed on their respective websites, while Ford, by contrast, doesn't have any listed endorsements.

Simon Kiss, an assistant professor of journalism at Wilfrid Laurier University, said endorsements are typically viewed as a positive thing.

There are exceptions when the people doing the endorsing bring baggage, or when their actions leave a candidate facing awkward questions from the media.

"They very rarely hurt you," Kiss told CBC News in a telephone interview.

But Kiss said it may be hard for Ford to obtain endorsements, as a result of the various controversies that occurred during his brother's tenure as mayor.

One of Olivia Chow's most recent endorsements came from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May on Tuesday. (CBC)

From that perspective, Kiss said Ford's apparent rejection of endorsements can be viewed as a "kind of classic judo move" to turn a negative into a positive, presenting them as something valued and pursued by political elitists — not "the people" that Ford is targeting for support and directly speaks to in his political advertisements.

For Chow, her list of endorsers includes various politicians, labour leaders, artists and activists. Tory's list is politician-heavy, but various athletes and television personalities are also among those endorsing his mayoral bid.

One of Tory's more recent endorsements came from federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

Kiss said that endorsement, as well as Tory's recent acknowledgement of a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, may be a part of strategy of appealing to conservative voters.

Whether in marketing or in politics, people often look to short cuts if they haven't taken the time to obtain information.

An endorsement can serve as "a key short cut" for voters in these cases, Kiss said.

In a recent telephone interview, James Wittebols, a professor of political science at the University of Windsor, agreed that endorsements in general may thus have a greater effect on those who are not plugged into politics.

But he said endorsements may "mean next to nothing" for more informed voters.