, 03.10.2018 04:48 PM

Ten reasons why Doug Ford can win (and did)

When I quit the Olivia Chow Toronto mayoral campaign in 2014 – because she’d not told the truth to the media, among other things – guess who was the first person to call me?

Doug Ford.

“Warren, old buddy,” said Doug Ford, brother of former Toronto mayor, the late Rob Ford. “We’ve had our differences but I want you to chin up. Rob and I like you and respect you. Let’s get together when you get home.”

When you’re a political chew toy, you tend to remember calls like that one: you remember who called and who didn’t. So we stayed in touch after that. We did TV political panels together and we talked pretty regularly. I told him he shouldn’t run for mayor again because John Tory was doing a great job and would cream him. He should run instead to be Ontario premier, I told him.

There’s clearly a market these days for populist conservatives who defy the conventional wisdom and say what they think, I told him. And there were lots of reasons why he’d be a formidable Progressive Conservative leadership candidate.

Here are 10:

  • Ford’s working hard: Every plugged-in PC told me the same thing: “Doug’s working the phones. Doug’s reaching out. Doug’s doing all the right things.” He did what a party leadership candidate has to do in any contest: he worked his tail off.
  • Fords disciplined: I think his musings about scrapping a carbon tax were a mistake – we need it (as a province) and his party needs it (because it finances their entire platform). But apart from that, he didn’t blow any feet off and he said the kind of stuff card-carrying Conservatives love.
  • Ford has early support: Planning a rally early in a campaign is a big risk: it takes a lot of time and hard work to get hundreds of people to come out to an event. Well, Ford got thousands out for a Toronto rally at the start of his campaign and in a very short time frame, too. It gave him momentum and the visuals were pretty stunning – not everyone there was an old white guy. At all.
  • Ford’s evolved: A few weeks ago, I watched TVO’s fun Political Blind Date show, because Doug and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were on, and because I like both of them. Singh was engaging, warm and likable, as you’d expect. But so was Ford – big time. I was shocked at how he had evolved as a politician. Gone is the shouty city councillor, always being forced to defend his brother’s bad behaviour. In its place was a HOAG – a hell of a guy.
  • Ford’s better at retail: The TVO show also revealed something else. You could tell that the participants in the broadcast – the NDP members who agreed to the matchup and perhaps the TVO producers who came up with the idea – expected Ford to be what he had always been: a bit of circus act, a trained bear riding a tiny bike in the centre ring. Someone to be laughed at. Well, guess what? He was way better in the mano-a-mano segments than Singh was. Way.
  • Ford has a USP: A unique selling proposition, that is. It’s easy to see how some disengaged voters – that is, 99 percent of voters – would see Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and fellow PC leadership candidates Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott as all kind of the same thing. You know: female, centrist, careful, establishment. Ford is none of those. He offers the only clear alternative for the voters who are after one (and voters are always after one).
  • Ford gives quotes: The guy is a quote machine. The microphone loves him. He never uses a $20 word when a $2 word would suffice. He never uses jargon and acronyms and Newspeak. He talks about values. He knows facts tell, but stories sell. Ford is a one-man media machine.
  • Ford dominates the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area: An important Mainstreet Research poll – little-noticed in the Patrick Brown madness – showed that only one PC leadership candidate was very strong in the part of the province that decides who gets to be government: Toronto. In that area, Ford dominates. That matters. Remember: his brother crushed George Smitherman and Doug Ford himself came within 60,000 votes in his mayoral run against Tory in 2014. Ford Nation knows how to win in GTA.
  • Ford ain’t dumb: I worked for a populist-type politician who everyone – from the Martinites to the media – always dismissed. They always put him down. They always said Jean Chretien was dumb when he was way (way) smarter than all of them. Ford, so far, is running a very smart campaign. If he can keep his mouth under control, he’s got a real shot at winning the election.
  • Ford is reaching out: He did with me. And I know he’s reached out to many others who have criticized him in the past: “The door is open,” he’s telling them. “Just walk through it.” In a leadership race – and in an election – it’s all about connection. Ford is connecting. He’s reaching out.

Can Doug Ford win? Damn right he can.

Underestimate him at your peril.


  1. Matt says:

    Looking like Ford has won on points.

    So close Elliott is demanding a recount.

    Hearin Mulroney got crushed. Came in 4th on the first ballot.

    Question now becomes can he beat Wynne. Does NDP support collapse as those voters rush to Wynne to block Ford? would that even be enough for Wynne to pull off a victory given the polls in the last week?

    • AF says:

      I’m tempted to say that the NDP support will collapse but their votes will not go to the liberals… many rural ridings in the north which vote orange will switch for the Ford populistic approach.

  2. MitchB says:

    You called it. It’s going to be an interesting Ontario race.

  3. Ned Ludd says:

    And lo, there was wailing, a great gnashing of teeth and renting of garments by establishment Tories.

    Your prognostication was spot on, Sir.

  4. Matt says:

    CBC’s Queens Park reporter Mike Crowly has confirmned Ford still the winner after the recount.

    Does Elliott walk away or can she put the disappointment behind her and help defeat Wynne.

    Mulroney going out on the first ballot killed Elliott’s chances.

    • Matt says:

      Sorry, it’s Mike Crawley.

    • Matt says:

      Turns out I got some bad intel.

      Mulroney didn’t come last after all .

      1st ballot Elliott, Ford, Mulroney, Granic allen

      2nd ballort Ford, Elliot, Mulroney

      3rd ballot Ford, Elliot.

      Ford won by over 200 electoral points.

  5. Matt says:

    Just got a text:

    It’s Clinton-Trump Ontario style. Ford has won on points, Elliott 3000+ votes more than Ford. Headed for court???

  6. Matt says:

    Hearing they will not be declaring a winner tonight.

    Issue is allocation of points and riding weighting.

    Lawyers going to have to figure it out.

  7. Matt says:


    CP24 reporting a decision has been made.

    Announcement coming soon.

  8. 7w8G says:

    11. Tanya Granic Allen

  9. Art says:

    Shouldn’t it be based on popular vote. Why would the PC’s go with such a strange points based system? And it’s funny that people think he’s ‘grown up’.


    • Matt says:

      In theory, assigning 100 points to each riding means each riding has an equal say in electing the new leader.

      Didn’t the federal Liberals use this system when Trudeau won leadership?

    • Douglas Musk says:

      To prevent party hijacking.

      Look at what happened to the NDP. Most of Singh’s donations came from two or three urban areas. He likely won the leadership based on overwhelming the rest of the country with a highly dedicated base in some suburban ridings.

      He’ll play very poorly though in NDP held seats in Quebec and the hinterlands.

  10. James Smith says:

    This is going to very interesting campaign. The one thing you mention I question is “disciplined”. The hard right charge works sure, red meat for the base no doubt but opening the abortion issue, was an undisciplined mistake & may open a wound that could be fatal. I could be wrong, I though that Hoskins would support a different woman for Leader.

  11. Matt says:

    Being reported Ford got 83% of Granic Allen’s support after the first ballot and, suprisingly, 25% of Mulroney’s support after the second ballot.

  12. Charlie says:


    As a non-Ontarian, non-PC voters – I’d like to thank that party for having the most entertaining leadership race in Canada in over a decade.

    The comparisons to Hillary-Trump right now are just so, so easy.

    This contest is turning out to be more and more controversial.

    One side note, if Doug Ford does go on to be leader and possibly form government, anal-sex lady might just end up being minister of education – and that should be frightening

    • Pedant says:

      Not as frightening as explicit sexual education taught to very young children by unionized teachers with an agenda over the wishes of their parents.

      I went through the Ontario public education system in the late-90s. Sex ed covered all the necessities : diseases and pregnancy, and how to avoid both. The only updates needed would be to add new infections or treatments that arise or subjects such as the morning-after pill that were not available 20 years ago. Keep the social engineering out of it.

  13. billg says:

    Oh man, this just got fun.
    Thanks for the updates Matt.
    Wasn’t my first choice, but it looks like the voters wanted someone who would kick the door in and not knock and wait for an answer.
    I imagine the Liberal attack ad will be out this week, and, pretty sure Ford’s responses to them will be epic.
    I like dirty politics, I like passion.
    Ms Wynne does both, so does Ford.
    Buckle up boys and girls, this will be something to watch.

  14. Pedant says:

    It’s disappointing for me as I very much wanted Elliot to win. It is clearly the right time for her leadership. Although it isn’t over yet as she is vigourously contesting the results at this time.

    I find it interesting how many Liberals I’m reading on Facebook and elsewhere ALREADY dismissing Doug Ford and declaring Wynne the winner in June (they are assuming Ford will indeed be confirmed in the leadership). Have they not learned yet not to underestimate this man?

  15. AF says:

    Keep the social engineering out of it.? more like Keep the social regressive views out of it.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Right. Can’t have anything interfering with all those 10 year old school kids choosing their first gender (out of the 31 available), can we?

  16. snowflake says:

    …ford will become the new premier of ontario by using a proven strategy of pandering to tax whiners and bigots

    • Ned Ludd says:

      When many low to moderate income earners are having to decide between heating and eating, I don’t think that is whining, particularly.

  17. Sherri Lange says:

    Kinsella’s comment re we “need” the carbon tax, is dated, like an old can of soup. WE NEED THE CARBON TAX LIKE A FISH NEEDS A BICYCLE. It will kill farmers. It is a false tax, based on climate change fear mongering, and it is essentially intellectually corrupt. If more taxes are needed, and I don’t think they are, call them what they are. A hospital bed tax. Etc.

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