When Premier Wynne called five by-elections on August 1, 2013, I am sure she thought that the Ontario Liberals would easily hold onto the provincial seats held by former cabinet ministers Laurel Broten in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Margarett Best in the Scarborough-Guildwood riding.
They were formerly safe Liberal provincial seats.
But Wynne and the Liberals were not prepared for the sudden emergence of well-known Tory city councillor and Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday as an Etobicoke opponent to their hand-picked Liberal nominee, Peter Milczyn.
Also, Wynne was not prepared for the re-emergence of Mayor Rob Ford as a major political force in his home area of Etobicoke and in Scarborough, where he is also strangely and very strongly admired and supported.
Mayor Ford has been actively canvassing with Doug Holyday and Tory leader Tim Hudak in Etobicoke and in Scarborough with Tory candidate Ken Kirupa.
And Ford’s involvement has clearly thrown the races wide open and has caught the Liberals scrambling to respond to the Ford charge.
You know the Liberals are in trouble in Etobicoke — and even in formerly secure Scarborough — when Transport Minister Murray feels the bizarre need to publicly criticize Mayor Ford for campaigning for the Tories in both ridings.
I am sorry, Glen. Last time I looked, Mayor Rob Ford was not on the ballot for these by-elections.
Nonetheless, the blowhard Murray has been publicly criticizing Mayor Ford on the campaign trail, as follows:
“How can you claim to be a subway champion when you’ve been Rob Ford for three years and you haven’t come up with five cents for a subway investment?” he said outside Queen’s Park Wednesday.
“With the mayor, it’s all talk, talk, talk about subways. No one’s writing a cheque. The only government that’s writing a cheque is the Liberals.”
Well, Glen, you pompous politico, the Liberals are not writing cheques so quickly for a Scarborough subway, either.
In fact just a few days ago, you reneged on the Liberals’ promise to pay $1.8 billion for the Scarborough subway and now you are only promising $1.4 billion.
Also, these subway funds are not Liberal funds. They are Ontario taxpayers’ hard-earned money. That the Liberals have been squandering for over 10 years, especially recently, in paying off greedy American hedge funds and friendly gas plant operators to the tune of nearly $700 million big ones.
When his attacks on Ford did not appear to be working, Murray fell back on going after former Tory Premier Mike Harris, stopping subway construction of the Eglinton line over 10 years ago.
Another typical Liberal move. When all else fails, play the “crash and burn” Mike Harris card.
As Murray publicly ranted and raved:
“The difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives is: we actually fund subways, they don’t. They fill them in,” he said. “There is no lack of subway champions. We have got subway champions coming out our wazoo in this city and this province. What we’re missing is subway funders.”
This Harris attack may have worked in the past. This tactic may have fooled the Ontario electorate two or three times in the past when stated by Dalton McGuinty. But now McGuinty is disgraced and in hiding. His reputation and legacy, in tatters.
Also, this Harris tactic has become pathetically old and feeble. The Liberals have their own scandals to overcome; OLG, Ornge, cancellation of gas plants, cover up of gas plant cancellations, deletion of documents and emails. And now undue political influence upon the quasi-judicial Speaker of the House.
But Murray, was still not finished with Ford.
He also argued that it was “bizarre” and “unprecedented” for Mr. Ford to intervene in a provincial race.
“It is more apparent to me day by day that Team Hudak is quickly being swallowed up by Team Ford,” he said.
“We now have a mayor who has decided to use Mr. Holyday’s candidacy as a referendum, and to insert himself and what would normally be a non-partisan office in an incredibly partisan way.”
Well, cry me a Don River, Glen.
I am truly shocked. Mayor Ford is playing politics. He is acting like a politician and campaigning for his friends.
I warned Premier Wynne in a previous Huff Post article, that she should put a muzzle on Murray.
This poor excuse for an Ontario politician. This overweight lightweight. This embarrassingly loose, loose cannon is actually making the case for Ford and for the Tory candidates Holyday and Kirupa, for whom Ford is actively campaigning.
By going after Ford, Glen Murray has given Ford a great public platform.
He has served up to Ford some very soft political pitches.
And once again, Ford, the Great Bambino, hit Murray’s pitches into the upper bleachers, when Ford compared the Liberals to criminals when he stated publicly at Kirupa’s headquarters:
“If you say you want to go and vote Liberal, then you’re basically just giving a bank robber another gun and saying ‘go rob another bank,'” he said.
A little harsh. A little simplistic. But that is the defining political shot heard throughout the campaign trail in Etobicoke and Scarborough.
I am going all in, sports fans. Balls against the wall.
I am predicting a victory for Holyday in Etobicoke and a huge upset victory for the Tories in Scarborough.
And the Tories can thank Rob Ford, and of course, the hapless Glen Murray.