Blayne Lastman, son of former mayor Mel Lastman and known locally as the TV pitchman for his Lastman’s Bad Boy chain of furniture stores, is set to announce a run for mayor of Toronto on Thursday.
Mr. Lastman, who has never held elected office, will file nomination papers at City Hall before holding a news conference at 11 a.m. – a day before the deadline to enter the Oct. 22 municipal election.
After weeks of speculation, his campaign released a media advisory on Wednesday afternoon, titled Blayne Lastman for Mayor, inviting reporters to a campaign launch.
Sources have also told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Lastman is running. But when contacted by The Globe on Wednesday, Mr. Lastman would not confirm his plans, saying he would reveal his decision on Thursday.
Mayor John Tory, whose campaign boasts that it has already raised more than $1-million, had until now faced no widely recognized opponent after former city councillor Doug Ford abandoned his pledge to run again locally this year and instead wound up in the Premier’s Office.
Reports that Mr. Lastman was contemplating a run for mayor surfaced after a meeting with his father and Mr. Ford this month. Mr. Ford has not said publicly if he would support Mr. Lastman’s bid.
“Premier Ford looks forward to working with whoever is successful in the municipal election this fall,” Laryssa Waler, a spokeswoman for the Premier, said in an e-mail.
Mel Lastman, 85, said on Wednesday that he still did not know if his son had decided to run: “If he becomes the mayor, he will be the best mayor the city ever had – and that is even better than I was."
The news injects some life into Toronto’s municipal election campaign, which, absent a battle of mayoral heavyweights, had been expected to focus on those jostling for the large number of open council seats created by new districts and a handful of retirements among veteran councillors.
On Wednesday, Toronto Transit Commission chair Josh Colle added his name to that list, announcing he would not seek re-election to council and was taking a private-sector job in the “infrastructure, transportation kind of world.”
Just hours later, his father, former Liberal MPP Mike Colle, who started his career in municipal politics, filed nomination papers to replace his son in the ward, where there is just one other declared candidate with just days left before Friday’s deadline to sign up for the fall election.
TV ads for Mr. Lastman’s chain of stores have for decades shown him and his father, who also once owned a chain under the Bad Boy name, bellowing the slogan “Who’s better than Bad Boy? Nooobody!” He recently opened new locations in the Toronto-area suburbs of Brampton, Mississauga and Whitby and in Hamilton’s Ancaster area.
His campaign for mayor is expected to be a Ford-like populist challenge to Mr. Tory, who portrays himself as a moderate, centre-right leader. Earlier this month, Mr. Lastman told the Toronto Sun that if he were to run for mayor, he would support police and small businesses: “I am 100 per cent in the corner of the men and women in blue, community safety and a big supporter for small business.”
Mr. Lastman travelled to Washington for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January, 2017, with his son. While he was quoted in a Toronto community newspaper saying the President’s speech was too “negative” and that he was not a Trump supporter before the trip, he also told the Toronto Sun he thought Mr. Trump would “be a great president who is going to ignite the economy.”
Asked for comment, one of Mr. Tory’s campaign co-chairmen, Vic Gupta, welcomed Mr. Lastman to the race: "We look forward to a spirited campaign.”
Among those working on Mr. Lastman’s campaign is Rob Godfrey, a former Toronto Blue Jays executive and former chairman of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He is the son of Postmedia boss and former Metro Toronto chairman Paul Godfrey.
With a report from Oliver Moore