John Tory remains in front in Toronto’s mayoral race, with Councillor Doug Ford in the hunt and Olivia Chow slipping, a new poll suggests.
Results released by Forum Research late Monday night said Tory has captured 43 per cent of support — a number based on 1,167 randomly chosen respondents who were surveyed Monday. He now has a 10-point lead over his nearest rival, Ford, at 33 per cent, and a 23-point lead over Chow, who is at 20 per cent, the survey found. Three per cent said they would vote for a fringe candidate.
An Ipsos-Reid poll from late last week gave Tory a far larger lead — a whopping 22 points over both Ford and Chow. However, Forum’s last survey, from last week, gave Tory a mere seven-point lead over Ford, 38-31, with 25 per cent for Chow.
“This is an improvement for John Tory since last week, and it appears Olivia Chow’s resurgence was short-lived,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff. “However, with basically the length of an entire federal election campaign to go before the election, it’s too early to say either of the two leaders has an insurmountable advantage.”
Tory has been the frontrunner in every poll taken since July 30, though by widely varying margins over second place, which has been occupied by Chow, Mayor Rob Ford and Doug Ford each within that time frame. Before Tory’s poll reign, Chow had not trailed in any survey going back to February.
The Forum numbers reveal that Tory’s lead is widening in part due to the significant ground he’s made across the city, but primarily in suburbs like Etobicoke, where the Fords had picked up plenty of support in the past.
The poll revealed that Tory leads in all six former cities which combined to form Toronto during amalgamation except North York, where Ford has the most support, and Scarborough, where Tory and Ford are locked in a dead heat.
That finding reinforces numbers from the Ipsos-Reid poll, which suggested that Tory was breaking through into suburbs often considered Ford strongholds.
Forum said respondents who answered its poll in favour of Ford were predominately young males identifying with the Progressive Conservatives and living in North York or Scarborough.
Tory’s fan base was characterized as much older, PC or Liberal and living in Etobicoke or York.
Chow’s supporters emerged as the youngest polled. They most commonly identified as past provincial NDP voters residing within the downtown core or in East York.
In the wake of the Ipsos-Reid poll several political insiders suggested that suburban support was absolutely essential for a candidate to find victory in the Oct. 27 vote.
The Forum poll’s results are considered accurate, plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Ford was pegged by an Ipsos-Reid poll from last week at 26 per cent support. Meanwhile, recent polls suggest Chow has seen her support begin to languish.
While Ipsos Reid said she and Ford were both hanging onto 26 per cent of the vote on Friday, but Forum’s new numbers say her support has decreased to 20 per cent.
OTTAWA—The Sun News network has apologized to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and declared that an “offensive” rant against his parents’ morality — which included a description of Pierre Trudeau as a “slut” — should have never made it to air.
Trudeau has accepted the apology and ended his boycott against Sun Media, which he launched in retaliation for the attack on his parents.
“We accept Sun News’ apology. We look forward to Sun News journalists resuming participation in Mr. Trudeau’s press conferences,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement after the apology aired.
The apology did not come from the Sun TV performer, Ezra Levant, who made the slurs and subsequently wrote the same allegations in a column published in Sun newspapers.
Nor did the apology include any retraction of remarks presented as facts during the segment, particularly a Levant allegation that Trudeau, the son of morality-challenged parents, had forced himself into a wedding photo against the wishes of the family involved.
The family has categorically denied that version of events in subsequent reports, saying that they tried to tell Levant he was wrong in email messages — which he said he did not receive.
The Sun News apology came in the form of a text statement, read by an announcer — not Levant — just before his show, The Source, aired as usual on Monday night.
“In a monologue that aired Sept. 15, 2014, on The Source, host Ezra Levant criticized Justin Trudeau for ‘photo-bombing’ a bridal party. In this monologue he detailed a number of controversies involving Justin Trudeau’s parents and their marriage,” the statement said.
“It is the view of Sun News that this segment was in poor taste and should not have been aired. We understand why many viewers found both the content and language of this segment to be offensive. We apologize to Mr. Trudeau, his family and to our viewers.”
The lack of a personal apology and retraction from Levant, as well as the restrained reply from Trudeau — he has said only that he would welcome Sun News reporters’ participation in press conferences, with no guarantees of answering their questions — would appear to indicate only an awkward truce has been reached.
Trudeau’s boycott had stirred a controversy of its own, and questions about whether politicians should punish journalists as a whole for the actions of one columnist or editorial.
Trudeau has made no secret of his aversion to Sun News, which regularly ridicules him, and which his advisers allege is little more than an arm of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Coming soon to Queen’s Park — 15 more MPPs.
The Ontario legislature looks set to expand from 107 members to 122 after the 2018 provincial election.
That’s thanks to new ridings expected to be carved out in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Vaughan, Markham, Barrie, Kitchener, and Ottawa.
So says Premier Kathleen Wynne in “mandate letters” to cabinet ministers on her expectations for their tenure.
Wynne — whose Liberals won a majority 58 seats in the June 12 election to 28 for the Progressive Conservatives and 21 for the New Democrats — made the pronouncement in her letter to herself as minister of intergovernmental affairs.
“The ministry’s specific priorities include . . . working with the attorney general to bring forward a legislative proposal pertaining to Ontario’s electoral boundaries,” the premier wrote.
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While political observers have long anticipated an increase in MPPs, Wynne’s letter is the first official announcement of what the government is planning.
New ridings will come into existence in next year’s federal election. Ontario will move from 106 seats in the House of Commons to 121.
The province’s riding boundaries have been closely linked to federal constituencies since former Tory premier Mike Harris reduced the number of MPPs to 103 from 130 in the 1999 provincial election.
In 2005, then-premier Dalton McGuinty made a slight change in order to keep northern Ontario representation up, so there were 11 provincial seats in the north to 10 federal ridings.
That meant there were 107 provincial ridings as of the 2007 election to 106 federal constituencies.
Since Wynne is unlikely to want to reduce the number of northern representatives at Queen’s Park, Ontario would be boosted to 122 ridings, one more legislator than provincial voters send to Ottawa.
Just as poll-by-poll analyses have shown parliamentary redistribution could be politically helpful to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives next year, the new ridings play to the electoral strength of Wynne’s Liberals.
If the June election results were transposed onto the expected 2018 riding map, the Grits’ majority would be even greater thanks to the additional Greater Toronto Area constituencies.
That’s because Liberal MPPs now represent most of the areas that would be contained in the 15 new ridings.
Most TV studios operate at one of two extremes. They are either in large, dark cavernous spaces with sets littered around the edges to provide maximum flexibility and variety in shots, or they are surprisingly small, with just enough room for the anchor desk, cameras and crew. Rogers? new Sportsnet Hockey Night in Canada set is neither.
Housed in a made-over 10th floor space in the CBC building ? where the in-studio elements for Hockey Night in Canada used to be shot ? the new $4.5-million set is a gleaming state-of-the-art studio that looks like something for which Starfleet might like a design credit.
There are nine distinct sets, with a main stage featuring a 3.3-by-11.6-metre ultra-high-resolution monitor nicknamed Goliath ? claimed to be the largest ever used in a Canadian television studio. On the other side are two large studio pods like giant glass bubbles, where regional broadcasts will take place. There?s an interactive puck wall element, which, like something from a game show, lights up with stats for specific teams; a smaller studio to the side outfitted with red chairs for host George Stroumboulopoulos?s interview segments; and at the centre, a glass table for panel discussions with Rogers? legion of hockey commentators.
?We need to tell stories in a variety of ways, and we wanted to get away from the traditional desk, where there are four people on it and they are all that you see. We have a dynamic place to work in. We have places to show and tell in a variety of different ways,? said Gord Cutler, Rogers? senior vice-president of hockey production.
With so much hockey, including national broadcasts on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as regional rights for several teams, Cutler says the many sets are necessary to keep the product visually interesting throughout the many broadcasts.
New ways of visually presenting the game will include a new play-by-play camera that Cutler admits still needs some work, as well as a referee cam that might make its debut on NHL Game Centre Live, the company?s game streaming product.
The new set and broadcast team are set to debut on Wednesday, Oct. 8, with a Montreal-Toronto doubleheader followed by Vancouver at Calgary.
Along with unveiling new sets, Sportsnet executives talked about the company?s editorial vision, which will emphasize storytelling and a ?stars first? policy, meaning it will focus on the NHL?s best-known players. To that end, the preview included a highlight reel with clips of features the production team is working on, offering high production values and a goodly share of weepy moments.
Asked if that means Rogers will shy away from some of the game?s uglier stories, Scott Moore, Rogers president of Sportsnet and NHL, said that?s not a concern.
?We?re partners, but we?re not cheerleaders. We have to cover the tough stories when they come up. But as partners and as good journalists, we?ll have to cover both sides. There has to be balance. We?ll be journalists and we won?t shy away from stories like concussions or franchise relocation; we have to do that,? said Moore. ?But I believe that fans don?t want to hear about the business of sport every single Saturday night.?
Part of that ?business? has been non-stop coverage over the past eight months of Rogers? giant 12-year, $5.2-billion NHL deal .
The switchover is done. The sets are built. Now all that is left is for the games to begin and for us to see how it looks and plays out on our screens at home.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA - PHOTOS FROM THE PAST
The biggest non-issue in last spring’s election: Ontario’s deficit.
Hard as the Tories tried to rattle voters, they learned the hard way that fighting deficits is no way to fight a campaign. Tim Hudak lost the vote — and his job as PC leader — because Ontarians didn’t buy into his doomsday scenarios.
Balancing the budget may be dumb politics, but is it good economics? Either way, it’s all about timing.
Now, it’s the Conference Board of Canada sounding the alarm. Ontario won’t meet its deadline to wipe out the deficit by 2017-18 unless it hikes taxes or cuts back even more on government spending, the economic think tank warns.
This isn’t the first report to second-guess government projections. In truth, there is no certainty when economists look into the future.
Looking back, however, one thing is clear: the Tory election remedy — shock and awe tactics to rid Ontario of 100,000 public servants in order to balance the budget one year ahead of schedule, in 2016-17 — was unattainable and unsustainable. Moving even faster would risk an economic stall.
The deficit-cutting is already ambitious, as the report notes: Growth in government spending tumbled to 0.2 per cent in 2011-12 and again the next year — “two years of essentially no growth.” That compares to annual increases averaging 5 per cent over the previous decade.
Program growth will remain at 1.3 per cent a year from 2013-14 to 2016-17, and decline to 0.7 per cent in the final year to achieve balance. “The fiscal austerity plan is back-end loaded, with the restraint becoming more ambitious every year,” the economists conclude.
Here’s the problem: The Conference Board warns that with sluggish economic growth this year and next, revenues will decline — opening up a bigger deficit gap.
But Ontario’s balancing act has yet to unravel. The same week that the think tank was poking holes in his numbers, Finance Minister Charles Sousa was pointing out that the deficit for 2013-14 had come in $800 million lower than forecast, at $10.5 billion — the fifth consecutive year that the budget beat projections.
Proof, perhaps, that projections are an imprecise science. While the Conference Board cautions that economic growth will be a mere 2.4 per cent next year, an RBC report earlier this month forecast a 2.8 per cent rise in GDP, thanks to robust exports to the U.S.
Moreover, Ontario’s sticky unemployment rate is destined to get better over the next few years, declining from 7.1 per cent this year to an enviable 5.9 per cent by 2017-18, according to the Conference board. Even if the final deficit number is off by a billion or two — on a government budget of about $130 billion a year — low unemployment would be a boon for any politician.
With the good news comes bad: The more Ontario recovers, the less it gets from Ottawa in equalization and other transfer payments, undermining the bottom line.
The reverse is true in neighbouring Quebec, where federal transfers will increase as the economy continues to stagnate — RBC projects its growth in 2015 will be a full percentage point below Ontario’s. Quebec is hoping to balance its budget two years earlier, by 2015-16, but the Conference Board is equally pessimistic that it will meet its deadline.
One key difference between the two big Central Canadian provinces: The cumulative debt per person is higher in Quebec than Ontario, and its net debt as a share of GDP is at an uncomfortable 50 per cent; in Ontario, it’s 38.6 per cent.
Another difference: Ontario got a head start in getting its finances under control by hiring former TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond to head a commission on government spending in 2011-12. Quebec has only now gotten around to appointing a Drummond-style commission on government programs that will look at some of its sacred cows.
As Drummond discovered, Ontario delivers services more cost-effectively, per capita, than any other province. But to attain balance, he exhorted Queen’s Park to bend its cost curves — which is why Ontario is further down the restraint road than Quebec, whose program spending has been roughly twice as high in recent years.
No matter how dismal the budgetary outlooks, the only certainty is that all these projections are always a guessing game: Economic performance is as easily influenced by a bout of bad weather as a foul political atmosphere.
Without doubt, Ontario’s deficit burden and debt obligations are big and bad. But as voters reminded us last spring, it’s not yet the season to panic about insufficient austerity.
Martin Regg Cohn?s Ontario politics column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
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