By: James Di Fiore
For a seasoned politician this should have been easy.
After Rob Ford pontificated about immigration during the last Toronto Mayoral Debate, a senseless comment meant to rally his base of suburbanites, you would have thought Rocco Rossi was finally ready to create some political capital. Unfortunately for Rossi, nobody seemed to notice. At least not in person anyway.
With the #voteTO feed on Twitter alive with comments regarding Ford’s controversial statement, Rossi announced he would be holding a downtown rally to counter the notion that City Hall somehow determines immigration policy. Easy peasy. But, as has been the case since Rossi began his mayoral run, his lack of intrigue once again took center stage.
Rossi is just not very engaging. His delivery seems over-rehearsed, a painful-to-watch spectacle unmatched by every other candidate. Well, we’ll give Sarah Thomson a close second. The lone female candidate appeared as Rossi’s surprising co-star, awkwardly taking the podium (adorned with a ‘Vote Rossi’ place card) and once again stating her 25 years of business experience in an all-too-predictable-yet-thankfully brief statement. Note: Up until this point in the campaign, Thomson has said over and over again that she has “24 years of business experience.” So, either this campaign has been going on for a lot longer than we thought, or Thomson has some basic math issues.
It could have, no, should have been a watershed moment in a race that has many voters discouraged at the lack of clear vision displayed by each and every candidate. George Smitherman, who doesn’t seem to even want to run anymore, is nowhere to be found, plummeting in the polls and in overall public opinion. Meanwhile, Rossi’s campaign team seems stuck with a polywonk candidate who looks like he should have remained a wizard behind the curtain rather than a serious contender running for office.
Rob Ford is a lucky politician. His outspoken demeanor means he also tends to misspeak, usually a critical error in campaigns of this magnitude. But this time he is up against the gang that can’t hit back, or hit at all for that matter. The lack of credibility, nuance, style and rebuttal is palatable, and each candidate has their own customized method of completely failing to run a solid campaign. Even Mel Lastman would have taken the portly front-runner to task, a sad and ironic reality given the similarities between him and Mr. Ford.
If it continues like this, Toronto will be waking up on October 25th ready to push a Ford all the way to City Hall, and Rossi, Thomson and Smitherman might as well be directing traffic.