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Rob Ford

Age: 41

In the polls: 43.9 per cent*

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Last seen:

As Etobicoke North councillor of 10 years, calling out City Hall on spending of all kinds - from medically apportioned wine for alcoholics at Seaton House to hundreds of millions spent on made-in-Canada Bombardier streetcars.

Quote he wants you to remember:

"Stop the gravy train."

Mr. Ford's oft-repeated mantra now has its own $30 T-shirt. One thing's for sure: We'll never be able to eat poutine again.

Quote he doesn't want you to remember:

"Go ahead, take me to jail."

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Said to a Miami police officer who pulled Mr. Ford over the evening of Valentine's Day, 1999. Asked about the incident this summer, Mr. Ford said it "completely, totally slipped my mind."

Campaign high point:

Sure, he'd been edging ahead of his rivals all summer. But when a Nanos Research poll in early September put him in the lead by a 24-point margin, Mr. Ford suddenly became the man to beat.

Low point:

Over the summer, Mr. Ford became the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons - shortly after a public broadcast of a phone conversation in which he apparently offered to score OxyContin for an addict, his mug shot was plastered on front pages because it was revealed that police in Florida a decade ago had pulled him over in his car and charged him with pot possession and DUI. The first charge didn't stick - but the second one did. Awkward.

Where he stands on...

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Transit:

Subways and cars. A Ford mayoralty would rip out the city's streetcar system (albeit in phases, he notes) and replace them with buses and subways - to be paid for largely with provincial money. He'd also put $650-million towards road improvements and repair.

Reality check:

The province has said it has no plans to reallocate funds that have already been committed to Transit City. And if the city wants to renege on already-signed contracts, it would have to pay hefty penalties. In the long run, buses are more expensive than streetcars, according to the Toronto Transit Commission.

Money:

He has vowed to slash $2.8-billion from the city's budget during his four-year mayoral term, relying largely on $1.1-billion in savings made by only replacing half the staff who retire, and $1.7-billion in "efficiencies." He'd also cut the vehicle registration and land transfer taxes and end the city's fair wage policy, cutting more than $500-million in revenue annually.

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Reality check:

Attrition's tough to count on for aggressive spending cuts. And Mr. Ford couldn't name anything he'd cut or target to achieve the efficiencies of his ambitious savings plan. "There's a lot, a lot of waste," he told reporters when he unveiled his plan earlier this month.

Oh, cut the waste! Why didn't we think of that?

Governance:

Less is more: Mr. Ford would cut council in half, so voters going to the polls in 2014 would elect only 22 councillors instead of the current 44.

Reality check:

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Doubling the number of people each councillor represents means people get even less face time with their elected representatives than they did before.

Superpower:

Ability to stay on message, all the time. And if the polls are to be believed, it's a message a lot of people like.

Fatal weakness:

Inability to explain precisely where the waste to be sliced from City Hall's budget would come from.

* Based on figures from a Nanos Research poll of 1,000 very likely Toronto voters conducted Oct. 14-16.

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