Councillor Doug Ford slammed his rivals in the Toronto mayoral race for collecting endorsements from political and business leaders, charging that they amount to a dangerous quid pro quo, while unveiling a campaign ad that he touted as an endorsement from John Tory.
"These political endorsements can come with a price – a hefty price to the taxpayers. The political insiders and special interest groups are itching to get their hands back in your pockets," Mr. Ford declared. "When I get elected, I won't be in anybody's pocket."
The warning came moments before the leader of the federal Green Party, Elizabeth May, said she was backing Olivia Chow in hopes that, with her in office, "the rest of the world notices Toronto for the good things that are happening, the world notices Toronto for having a farsighted, hard-working mayor who delivers on promises. Like getting transit to work, like improving housing, like dealing with poverty."
Mr. Tory followed with another endorsement of his own, from Ms. May's predecessor, Jim Harris.
Both endorsements are effectively lily-gilding, since both candidates have racked up dozens of similar votes of confidence over the past few months.
Mr. Ford is taking a different approach. "We didn't have endorsements in 2010," he said, referring to himself and his brother, Rob Ford. "We had the endorsements of the people."
In fact, critics noted that Rob Ford courted a number of city councillors as he swept into the mayor's office in 2010, and also offered his own support of some candidates running in other races.
Still, Doug Ford unveiled a cheeky ad on Tuesday featuring a comment Mr. Tory made in 2010, in which he called Mr. Ford "a smart, buttoned-down businessperson." Mr. Tory had added: "If you are looking for a better-run government, Doug Ford is the kind of person you would want."
Asked about the endorsement, Mr. Tory said he, like many, had been counting on something better from Mr. Ford when he successfully ran for city council.
"I guess a lot of people had high hopes four years ago, but we've seen the division, we've seen the chaos, we've seen that Doug Ford, that I had some hopes for, frankly disappoint and let a lot of us down."
The spat over endorsements came as the first advance polls opened and Mr. Tory cast his vote at City Hall. Mr. Ford's highest profile supporter, Mayor Ford, voted near his Etobicoke home. (He lives in Ward 4 and is running for his old council seat in Ward 2.) Looking wan and out of breath, the mayor told reporters that his brother is "going to be the best mayor this city's ever had. Absolutely."
He added that "we're gonna do very well. I'm very confident that we'll be the next mayor."
The mayor, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a tumour, said he would be back in hospital on Oct. 29. He ignored questions about his prognosis.
With a report from Elizabeth Church.