The work of Toronto city council has ground to a standstill as scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes headlines around the world. Yet the causes of the city's political gridlock go beyond Ford and his mayoralty. Professor Zack Taylor examined city-suburb conflict as part of a long-term research project on the political geography of the amalgamated city.
Professor Taylor produced a map that shows the margin of voter support for mayoral candidates, Rob Ford and George Smitherman, on election day in 2010. See complete version of map.
The pre-amalgamation Metro Toronto suburbs (Etobicoke, York, North York, Scarborough, and most of East York) went overwhelmingly for Ford, while the old City of Toronto went overwhelmingly for Smitherman.
The city-suburb divide is an enduring feature of politics in the amalgamated City of Toronto—one that existed before Ford and one that will persist after he has left the scene. “Mr. Ford’s fairly straightforward policy promises, to rein in spending and end the “war on the car”, appealed to these suburban voters, who outnumber those downtown and in East York by about 2.5 to 1”, says Professor Taylor. The divide between old Toronto and the suburbs is – according to Professor Taylor – “bigger than Rob Ford. It’s older than Rob Ford.”
Professor Taylor’s findings and opinions are featured in a recent Globe and Mail article: “Is Ford's Nation still with him?” and a Maclean’s blog post: “Rob Ford’s crazed rant could hurt him worse than the crack video”.
A review of the results of the 2010 City of Toronto election can be found on Professor Taylor’s blog. During the fall term 2014, Professor Taylor will lead an upper-level City Studies seminar focused on the municipal election.
Watch Professor Taylor discuss Ford Nation on "The Agenda with Steve Paikin" (episode originally aired on TVO, November 14 2013, 8:00 p.m.)