Michael Ford wins Ward 2 Etobicoke North byelection – Toronto Star
Asked about her nephew’s youth, she joked he was “born old” and raised around adults. “He’s great,” she said.
Voters have passed the crown to the largely unproven politician — he quit his first job, Toronto school trustee, after only four months to seek the council seat — keeping the northwest Etobicoke family dynasty alive.
The crowd at Michael Ford’s victory party chanted “Michael Michael Michael” as he arrived. His grandmother Diane Ford stood beside him, smiling but obviously emotional just three months after losing her son Rob.
Rob Ford, the son of a former Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP, was first elected in the ward in 2000, the start of a decade-long tenure that saw him rail against perceived council overspending and regularly land in hot water for comments dubbed racist and homophobic.
When he was elected mayor in 2010, his brother Doug Ford replaced him on council and they served as kind of political tag-team, battling left-wing and centrist councillors, until drug abuse and lies derailed Rob Ford’s mayoralty.
A beaming Doug Ford, another of Michael’s uncles, said Monday night that he stepped back from the campaign and let the younger generation take over. “I wanted Michael to truly work his backside off — and he did.”
It remains to be seen, however, how Michael Ford — who legally changed his surname from Stirpe in 2015 — will make his mark in the 27 months before the next civic election.
During the campaign, he sounded like his conservative, combative uncles vowing to eliminate city hall waste and fight any new taxes expected to be proposed, with Mayor John Tory’s blessing, to help pay for social housing and new transit.
Yet, the son of Rob and Doug’s sister Kathy and Ennio Stirpe, a violent criminal serving an 18-year sentence, has repeatedly said he is his “own person.” He has professed admiration for Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, voiced support for gay rights and, on the Toronto District School Board, worked toward consensus solutions.
Sources have told the Star that senior staff in Tory’s office were relieved when Doug Ford, who came second to Tory in the 2014 mayoral election, decided not to seek the council seat himself and become a highly quotable Tory critic on the political right. Doug Ford is expected to run in the next provincial election.
Michael Ford’s rivals tried to convince voters that the area, which has been starved for employment and suffered shootings as recently as Saturday, needs fresh blood and ideas to spark revitalization rather than another Ford vowing to get potholes quickly fixed.
Support and advice from former Ward 4 councillor Gloria Lindsay-Luby was not enough for Ward 2 candidate Jeff Canning to overcome the Ford factor. Canning came a distant second.
“I’m sitting with friends and family who gave blood, sweat and tears so I’m proud,” Canning said in an interview.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t carry the day but proud of what we did given the resources we had.”