Toronto's mayor's race narrows, may be tactical

Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:34am EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - A scrappy race to run Toronto has just two front-runners left as voters decide whether to elect a frugal right-winger in a liberal city.

The race for Toronto mayor once had conservative candidate Rob Ford, a suburban city councilor and businessman, as its runaway favorite. But support for Ford eased as also-ran candidates pulled out, and he is now neck and neck with a liberal ex-minister from Toronto's province of Ontario.

"It's been an election campaign that has more than anything been characterized by a kind of angry, resentful, almost vengeful kind of climate," said Myer Siemiatycki, a politics professor at Ryerson University, noting a perception among voters about self-serving politicians and City Hall officials.

"It's time for the taxpayers to get even."

Toronto is Canada's biggest city and its financial capital. In federal elections the city tends to vote Liberal or for the left-leaning New Democrats, while many of the suburbs that ring it vote Conservative.

Ford promised to eliminate Toronto's C$500 million deficit to create a C$1.7 billion surplus within four years. He will "stop the gravy train at City Hall," he says.

Ford's only serious rival is George Smitherman, a long-time politician who was Ontario's first openly gay minister and was in charge of health and energy files.

The latest polls give Ford and Smitherman around 30 percent of the vote each.   Continued...

<p>Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford is pictured in this undated publicity handout photo. Traditionally liberal Toronto looks set to go against its roots in a colorful race for city mayor, with vengeful voters drawn to a penny-pinching and often politically incorrect right-winger. REUTERS/Handout</p>