Election Politics Toronto

Mapping Mayor Tory’s support on Council

Matt Elliott, columnist for Metro Toronto, is one of Toronto’s greatest observers of local politics. One great service that he does is keep track of all important votes at Toronto City Hall. Originally, this work tracked each councillors’ support for Mayor Rob Ford from 2010 through 2014; now his scorecard tracks how each councillor voted according to Mayor John Tory’s agenda. The Council Scorecard spreadsheet is available here.

In 2014, I created several maps using Elliott’s data that helped to show how Rob Ford lost control of City Council. In Ford’s first year, he was able to count on the support of 22 councillors, enough to get most of his agenda passed. But by 2014, only two councillors – Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7) and Rob’s brother, Doug (Ward 2) voted with the mayor at least 70 percent of the time.

I felt it was about time to map how well Mayor Tory is doing.

Team Tory Score, as of December 2015

In his first year as mayor, from December 2014 to December 2015, Tory enjoyed the support of over half of Toronto City Council; 24 of 44 councillors voted with the mayor at least 70 percent of the time. Important votes on budget austerity, council appointments (such as Police Board Chair and Tory friend, Andy Pringle), approving the “Hybrid” option for the Gardiner Expressway, and approving Uber’s operations in Toronto were all passed.

But there were some surprises. Many key Tory supporters voted against the mayor on a motion introduced by Councillor Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) to ask the province not to support ranked ballots. The mayor, who supported the electoral reform, lost that vote.

In that first year, most other councillors provided some support, voting with the mayor at least 30 percent of the time, including former mayor Rob Ford (Ward 2). The wards that these councillors represent are marked in orange. Generally, these wards are represented by centrist or left-leaning councillors such as Josh Matlow (Ward 22), Maria Augimeri (Ward 9) and Shelley Carroll (Ward 33).

Only two councillors — Mike Layton (Ward 19) and Joe Cressy (Ward 20) voted opposite to Mayor Tory over 70 percent of the time in 2015.

Team Tory Score, as of July 2016. Votes from the October 2016 Council Meeting not yet included. 

So far in 2016, the divide between the allies of the mayor and his opposition widened. Only ten councillors were left in the middle (all centre-left), while five councillors — Gord Perks (Ward 14), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27), Paula Fletcher (Ward 30), Janet Davis (Ward 31), and Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8) joining the opposition. With the exception of Ward 2, vacated after Rob Ford’s death, all councillors from Etobicoke and Scarborough became clear Tory allies.

It’s worth noting few normally centrist councillors, who were very effective in opposing Rob Ford’s agenda last term, are now staunch allies, including Paul Ainslie (Ward 43), and Bailão (Ward 18). Both are members of Tory’s Executive Committee; Ainslie, a centre-right councillor who has earned my great respect, was also appointed chair of the Government Management Committee.

Opposition to Tory’s agenda from councillors in the Toronto-East York region might help to explain why the Executive Committee, hand-picked by Tory and his transition team, did not have much enthusiasm for the 47-ward solution recommended by consultants on the Toronto Ward Boundary Review team. To reflect population growth, Downtown Toronto would get three new councillors in 2018, as would central North York. One ward would disappear in Toronto’s west end; incumbent councillors Ana Bailão (Ward 18) and Cesar Palacio (Ward 17), both Tory allies, are the most affected by that change. In May, the committee requested that the consultants go back to the drawing board and look at a new 44-ward option, as well as ward boundary options consistent with provincial and federal ridings. The consultants did that, and are once again recommending the 47-ward option.

Almost half-way through his term, Mayor Tory has a confident and strong hold on Council, which has so far supported an agenda of austerity, along with major (and in my view, unwise) transportation infrastructure projects like the Scarborough Subway and the Gardiner East reconstruction.

It is worth noting as well that apart from Bailão, all councillors from “downtown” wards were frozen out of Tory’s inner circle, even though many downtown and midtown wards enthusiastically voted for Tory in the 2014 election. Furthermore, most of the same councillors that support Tory at least 70 percent of the time also supported Ford’s agenda in 2011 and 2012. Key supporters of Ford’s early agenda went on to sit on John Tory’s Executive Committee.

While there’s a slightly conservative bent to Toronto City Council, left-leaning mayor David Miller was able to work with centrists and conservatives, including suburban councillors, to implement his agenda, appointing several to key boards and committees. Tory, on the other hand, has frozen out council’s progressives, perpetuating an urban-suburban divide.

Mayor Rob Ford’s allies and foes in 2011

It’s possible that Tory’s hold on power will slip as councillors get restless, or if there’s a backlash to cuts to city services such as the TTC or the Toronto Public Library. After all, Rob Ford’s hold on power slipped long before the crack scandal as residents fought back against budget cuts, and council quashed the Ford Brothers’ attempt to build a Ferris wheel and mall in the Portlands.

The mid point between municipal elections is coming up, and there’s an opportunity to make changes to committee and board appointments. There’s still an opportunity for new alliances to be made and for goals to change to support a growing city and address growing economic disparity.

Toronto Transit Urban Planning

Ridership has tripled on UP Express, but we can do even better


When UP Express — Toronto’s rail link to Toronto Pearson International Airport – -launched on June 6, 2015, the one-way fare between Union Station and Pearson Airport was set at $27.50, or $19.00 with a Presto card. At the time, Metrolinx, the provincial agency charged with planning and integrating transportation services in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and the parent agency of GO Transit, expected that ridership would hit 5,000 passengers a day in a year. But after its launch, ridership sunk instead. 

By January 2016, only an average of 1,967 passengers a day rode UP Express, so Metrolinx cleaned house and lowered the fares. The one-way cash fare was reduced from $27.50 to $12, and from $19 to $9 with a Presto card, and fares between Union and Bloor and Weston stations were reduced to match the GO Transit fares for the same trips. Since the new fare structure was introduced, UP Express ridership has more than tripled. By June 2016, the daily average ridership increased to 7,657.

Despite the ridership growth, and the utility of the rail service for local residents near Bloor and Weston Stations, there’s still more that can be done to make the most of the $456 million spent to build the line.

The airport region is a major employment centre, yet is difficult to serve by public transit. Fare integration between UP Express, GO Transit, MiWay and Brampton Transit could be an important a first step in creating a full regional rail network, a concept that Mayor John Tory pitched as “SmartTrack.”

Airport LinksTransit connections at Pearson Airport. UP Express, if it offered fare integration with the TTC, MiWay and Brampton Transit, would be an invaluable part of the Toronto area’s transit network

UP Express’s ridership increase is a good news story. But there’s so much more utility that can be leveraged.

I discuss the UP Express ridership trends further in Torontoist

Intercity Rail Travels

To Stratford by Train

IMG_6135-001.JPGVIA Train 85 at Stratford Station, October 8, 2016

On Thanksgiving weekend, my partner and I made the trip out to Stratford to get away from Toronto for two days and see two shows: Macbeth and The Hypochondriac. Both plays were excellent, and we had a lovely time strolling through Stratford’s downtown and parks as well. We took the train to Stratford, unfortunately it’s not a very convenient option for festival goers, nor for anyone visiting Stratford or for those who live there.