The saga of Toronto’s politics is an endlessly fascinating one.

The common feeling on American’s part is that Canada is far more liberal than them as a whole. Not true at all. In fact, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost the popular vote in two out of his three election efforts, but won enough ridings (like electoral votes), to be crowned the victor.

And Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, hasn’t elected a liberal as their mayor since 2006, when David Miller, a member of the New Democratic Party, represented the hard left.

2010 saw the election of Conservative Rob Ford. Remember him? He was the crack smoking mayor who put Trump to shame with his inappropriate quips. Ford weathered the storm mostly, but chose to run for his old council seat instead of re-election for mayor.

Ford left office with a 45% approval rating. That means he was decently, if not spectacularly liked. Not bad for someone who became the laughingstock of Canada. But voters liked Ford’s conservative policies. He slashed budgets, centralized schools, put more police on the streets and lowered taxes. Crime remained at a steady low after a dramatic spike in homicides in the mid 2000’s.

In 2014, Rob Ford’s brother, Doug made a go of the mayoralship. He didn’t win (although he’s now the premier, or governor, of Ontario, the province, Canada’s version of a state, that Toronto lies in), but he beat back a hard left NDP challenger in Olivia Chow. Doug was also bombastic like his brother. The winner of that election was businessman John Tory. He was the head of Rogers, kind of the Verizon of Canada. He ran as a conservative candidate as well, and in a non-partisan election, multiple people from one party can run.

But then Tory resigned a handful of weeks ago because of revelations of a consensual affair with someone working in his office. Many thought it was a bit of a nothing burger. The woman was 37 years his junior, but that really was the only controversial part of the whole affair. Still, he was gone, and at the end of June, voters will be unexpectedly electing his replacement.

Conservative minded ones are worried that in a field with very few recognizable candidates, a hard left one will win.

Enter Mark Saunders. A black, conservative, Canadian, shattering a multitude of stereotypes. He is the police chief of Toronto, and homicides have dropped 20% during his tenure, making Toronto the safest city in North America. He achieved ire from liberal residents when he instituted a “carding” policy when dealing with potential criminals. That’s Canadianese for “Stop and Frisk”, which gave officers the liberty to stop and question a suspect without have detailed grounds to do so. Giuliani employed that method which helped with the cleanup of New York City.

In a thirteen candidate race, no candidate is polling about 12%, with Saunders, even though he just announced, sitting comfortably at 6%. That means he’s within striking distance of victory, especially as the liberal vote splits, and he get more name recognition.

Gil Penalosa has the most name recognition. He ran against John Tory in the last election, where he got 18% to Tory’s 62%. The urban planner and hard left activist wants to spend $3 billion for more bus lanes, decreasing car traffic.

Gil Penalosa

Josh Matlow, a city councilor (same as city councilman) also threw his hat in the ring. The Liberal Party member wants to raise property taxes to the tune of 400 million to fund a “City Works” program.

Josh Matlow

Ana Bailao is also a liberal progressive, and one of the early frontrunners. She’s been vague on controversial issues and hasn’t released any policy points. She says her main effort will be to transfer maintenance of the expressway in Toronto to the province (or state), versus Toronto taxpayers, making a smart ploy for more conservative voters.

Ana Bailao

Saunders is the only candidate mentioning public safety. It’s less of an issue under the stewardship of Tory. But with creeping crime rates, Saunders wants to cut it off at the pass, by installing more police and being more aggressive with the “carding” policy he implemented.

If you’re in Canada, pay attention to this race, as candidates battle it out to be mayor of Canada’s gem. There’s a reason Toronto is safe, desirable, filled with economic opportunity and heavy with tourists. Conservative policies. You might want to keep it that way.

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