Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category
First, even with the latest Forum poll, it’s not really clear whether John Tory has a decided lead or not. Forum adjusts its polls for likely voters, and the current rolling average calculations at ThreeHundredEight.com show Chow’s “recent high” overlapping with Tory’s “recent low” (31% as opposed to 28%). In other words, they’re still in competition within the margin of error.
Still, Tory’s weighted average is 33.9% and Chow’s is 29.1%. I think it’s fair to say that if trends continue as they have been Chow will be in trouble.
You can see from a breakdown in a recent poll as to why Chow has a bit of a dilemma. She has strong support (naturally) from the NDP, but also the largest block of Liberal support. If her aim is to increase her overall share of the vote, she can do one of two things — try to peel away more Liberal – identifiers (or equivalent voters who don’t identify as Liberals but whose views are generally more middle-of-the-road), or come out swinging strongly in a bid for popular support among more disaffected voters.
In a “normal” election, the latter might make sense: there are more voters who will identify with her immigrant experience and early background than with Tory’s background as a scion of Tory, Tory, Deslauriers and Binnington (as it was when I was in Law School, now Torys LLP). Unfortunately, many of these potential voters are in the disaffected category on which Rob Ford has an even stronger lock — as a number of analyses have pointed out, Ford’s populist base isn’t necessarily all conservative, and certainly his strength among the young and in the black community points to a strength based in pure populism. (Serious conservatives of any sort have probably given up on Ford because even if he were to win, the last several years have shown that he can’t work well enough with others to make things happen; better to back a less radical conservative withe better coalition-building skills.) So Chow’s growth prospects depend on not scaring off centrist voters.
That’s why her campaign is so bland. She’s safe pointing out her own background, but she’s presenting as someone pushing minor adjustments to the system rather than major overhauls. Soknacki, who is a self-declared small-c conservative, has more radical positions than she does.
In contrast the same breakdown shows why Tory’s campaign is so much closer to the fiscal position of the city government over the past four years than his background in the CivicAction Alliance might lead one to expect: if Chow basically occupies the left and centre left of the spectrum, he has little to gain from trying to compete with her there, given his background and history. Campaigning to the right is his obvious strategy.
Mary Rogan’s Toronto Life article on the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim on a Dundas West streetcar by Toronto police has gotten quite a lot of attention online. This is not only because of the article’s detailed timeline of the event but because of what many commenters think is an unduly sympathetic approach towards the policeman responsible, James Forcillo.
I’ve touched on the event before, most recently here noting Forcillo’s arrest and charge of murder. This is an event that will not go away.
Within an hour, a cellphone video was posted to YouTube and quickly went viral. It was reposted on Facebook and Twitter and led every newscast across the city. Toronto was transfixed by the last 90 seconds of Sammy Yatim’s life. A city-wide consensus quickly formed: this 18-year-old didn’t have to die. The police could have held their fire and waited for the Taser. They could have tried to talk Yatim down instead of working him up, or shot the knife out of his hand, or used pepper spray. There had to be a non-lethal option available. And the question on everyone’s mind was, what kind of cop shoots a troubled teenager nine times?
In his six years on the force, James Forcillo had never fired his gun on the job until that night. He had drawn it before, during an arrest in Kensington Market, but managed to persuade two armed suspects to surrender without incident. Forcillo looks older than his 31 years. He has a square, heavyset build and a wary cast to his eyes. A second-generation Italian-Canadian, he spent his early childhood in Montreal, close to his mother’s large family. His father worked in the textile industry, moving from job to job, with long stretches of money troubles in between. A job change brought the family to Toronto when Forcillo was 12. A few years after that, his father found work in California, and Forcillo and his mom split their time between Toronto and L.A. When he was 18, he moved to California to live with his dad full-time, and his mother died of lung cancer shortly afterward. He enrolled in a criminal justice program, something that had interested him since high school, and graduated summa cum laude, but he wasn’t able to work without a green card. His relationship with his father soured, and at age 20 he decided to come back to Toronto to pursue a career in policing.
Forcillo met his future wife, Irina, in 2003, when he rented the basement apartment in her parents’ North York house. Like all cops, he’s prohibited from talking about any case that’s in front of the courts, including his own, but the rule doesn’t apply to his wife, who agreed to be interviewed for this story. A manager in a financial services firm, Irina is a stylish woman, self-possessed and yet unexpectedly girlish when she smiles. She comes from a close-knit Ukrainian family that immigrated to Israel when she was seven and then to Canada when she was 15. You can still hear the mix of hard Russian consonants and Israeli inflections in her voice.
They were an unlikely couple—Forcillo is shy and quiet, and Irina is outgoing and boisterous—but her family quickly brought him into the fold. Irina was in the last year of her business degree at U of T, and Forcillo was following a well-worn path to the police force. He worked as a security guard and studied psychology at York. In 2006 he became a court officer, escorting prisoners to and from their cells and maintaining order in the courtroom. The following year, he and Irina were married, and the year after that, when Irina was pregnant with their first child, Forcillo got the call that he had been accepted into the police-training program.
Walking by Paul Kane House and its associated parkette last week, I was struck by the flowers in the beds separating the grounds from the street. When I photographed the house on my instagrammed Canada Day walk, these flowers weren’t out. These flowers of August are beautiful, but their colours seemed unlikely, off somewhat: the periwinkle blue of ageratum, slightly odd oranges and yellow among the marigolds, sassy pink flowers of the hibiscus.
Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.