As mentioned in my last post, Bill 5, introduced by Premier Doug Ford in the middle of Toronto’s municipal election campaign, had a silver lining: it finally rid Toronto City Council of its greatest embarrassment, Giorgio Mammoliti. Otherwise, though, it had terrible effects. It removed the opportunity for many new voices to get elected to City Council by reducing the number of seats from 47 to just 25. In Ward 12, voters had a very difficult decision to make, as Josh Matlow and Joe Mihevc found themselves running against each other. Previously, both councillors expected to cruise to victory; neither were facing any prominent challengers under the 47-ward model.
Joe Mihevc, allied with the New Democratic Party, is one of the best arguments against council term limits. Representing old Ward 21, Mihevc has been a very popular and effective community representative. Ward 21 includes wealthy neighbourhoods such as Cedarvale, Wychwood Park, and the west half of Forest Hill. It also includes more modest neighbourhoods north of St. Clair Avenue and west of Bathurst Street. Two of Mihevc’s signature accomplishments were championing the St. Clair Avenue streetcar right-of-way and the Wychwood Barns project, where a former TTC streetcar yard was transformed into a wonderful park, art space, and community hub.
Josh Matlow, a Liberal, was elected to City Council in 2010 in old Ward 22. Matlow’s ward includes much of Toronto’s midtown area, affluent neighbourhoods such as Deer Park, Rathnally, and the eastern half of Forest Hill, as well as highrise apartments near Yonge and Eglinton and along Davisville Avenue. Matlow started his first term as an idealistic centrist, but made his mark as a sharp and informed critic of Rob Ford and John Tory, especially the Scarborough Subway.
Both Mihevc and Matlow became well-known for their involvement in local and city-wide issues. Mihevc has been very active in public health and anti-poverty matters. While Matlow is well-known for pushing for smarter transit infrastructure, he was also busy managing growth in his ward, especially in the Yonge-Eglinton area. Both have been very active in their wards, working on community improvements which make it so unfortunate that only one of the two could be re-elected.
Though Joe Mihevc is well to the political left of John Tory, the mayor backed Mihevc. This wasn’t surprising given the amount of bad blood between Tory and Josh Matlow. The mayor robocalled for Mihevc, like he did for Brad Bradford in Ward 19, and Mark Grimes in Ward 3.
But the voters in new Ward 8 chose Josh Matlow by a comfortable margin. Matlow got 51.6 percent of the vote to Mihevc’s 42.1 percent. The other four candidates shared the remaining 6.3 percent of the vote. This was one council race the mayor couldn’t influence.
This result had more to do with geography than anything else. Both Mihevc and Matlow lost parts of their old wards due to the new boundaries — the part of Ward 22 east of Mount Pleasant Road moved to Ward 15, while the part of old Ward 21 north of Eglinton Avenue went to Ward 8. Mihevc was able to count on the support of 61 percent of the voters in former Ward 21, made up of 27 polls. Mihevc also came first in five of the six polls located in former Ward 15, west of Oakwood Avenue. Matlow placed first in only five of the 33 polls west of Oakwood Avenue, and tied with Mihevc in two.
But there were 39 polls in former Ward 22, Matlow’s turf, where he remained especially popular, getting 66.4 percent of the vote there, and placing first in every poll. The advance poll heavily favoured Matlow as well.
Doug Ford’s late-stage meddling made the 2018 election incredibly unfair, especially as candidates scrambled late to run in much larger wards. Matlow won because the new Ward 8 had a larger electorate from his old ward, rather than Mihevc’s. This wasn’t fair. But Bill 5 wasn’t meant to be fair.
But by sending Josh Matlow back to City Council, instead of a more conciliatory Joe Mihevc, John Tory won’t have such an easy time getting his agenda through.
|Ward 12 Toronto-St. Paul’s|
Note: This post is revised from a previous version to better describe some of the community work done by city councillors.