Homophobe Toronto Mayor skips Gay Pride

3 more years and he’ll be out of office anyway, in the meantime let’s count the days.

Stuff that Mayor Rob Ford has found time for on his busy agenda in recent months:

• Presenting a key to the city to McDonald’s Canada founder George Cohon.

• Buying a dozen boxes of vanilla and chocolate cookies from Girl Guides.

• Inspecting fallen concrete under the Gardiner Expressway.

• Unveiling a new bus stop on the Danforth.

• Attending the Good Friday procession in Little Italy.

• Proclaiming Jane Jacobs Day.

• Confronting a Toronto Star reporter on public property beyond his backyard fence and — it would appear — scrolling through the guy’s dropped cell phone.

Yet Ford was MIA Monday for the raising of the rainbow flag formally launching Pride Week in Toronto.

Of course, the mayor’s presence was never expected. Ford said a week ago he had other commitments and would not attend. What these prior engagements might have been weren’t revealed. My city hall bureau colleagues were unable to find Mayor Waldo yesterday at the prescribed hour. Twenty-six councillors convened for the occasion on the rooftop podium, along with a provincial minister, some clergy, former mayor Barbara Hall, lots of media and a diverse array of interested spectators.

Among those was a fellow offering “The Embarrassing Rob Ford Tour’’ — a free-of-charge guided stroll focusing on art work inside city hall, with mortifying mayor commentary thrown in — and a black-clad group that staged a “die-in’’ on the ramp just below, bringing attention to the fate of persecuted gays globally.

One overheard snippet of conversation from amidst the milling crowd: “Yes, it was the first Jewish lesbian shotgun wedding. The baby’s due in September.’’

There were those applauding Israel as the only Middle East country where gay rights are protected. There were those wearing T-shirts slamming “Apartheid Israel’’ for its continued occupation of Palestinian territories.

Men in tight-fitting bicycle shorts and business suits, women in baggy overalls and gypsy skirts, kids in strollers, parents of gay children, elderly couples — same-sex and heterosexual — teens in Doc Martens, the outrageous and the modest.

A microcosm, really, of the city and Ford is mayor of it all, an inconvenient truth that he chooses to ignore when that doesn’t suit.

There were boos when Councillor Shelley Carroll channelled Ford for the officiating. “I, Mayor Ford, on behalf of Toronto city council, do hereby proclaim June 22 to July 1, 2012, as Pride Week in Toronto.’’

The thing is, had Ford surprised everybody by showing up, he would undoubtedly have been heartily cheered, just as he was when he made an unexpected appearance last month at the flag-raising for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It wouldn’t matter if those present take a dim view of Ford and probably didn’t vote for him, though it would be imprudent to make even those generalizations — surely there are gays who ascribe to his politics and for whom the Ford nitty-gritty appeals.

But Pride Week, under this year’s banner of “Celebrate and Demonstrate,’’ is a feel-good event. The message is inherently anti-ill will. And the gay community would have deeply appreciated any kind of shout-out from Ford.

The mayor should understand this, yet fails repeatedly to embrace opportunities of inclusiveness that actually matter, that aren’t merely photo-ops. Yet again, as he’s already stated, Ford will take a pass on the Pride Parade this weekend because, as oft-stated, he traditionally spends Canada Day with his family at their Huntsville cottage.

That’s just not a good enough excuse. Ford goes home to his wife and children every night. It’s not like they don’t see enough of him. Sometimes, being mayor means putting the job ahead of family and, if unwilling to do that, then don’t run for the office. If it’s true, as has been rumoured, that Ford is uncomfortable around the exhibitionism that is a feature of the parade — scantily clad men, a pungent aroma of sex, which is mostly the gay community taking the mickey out of itself — then arrangements could easily be made to put the mayor far from “offending’’ participants. He really does need to confront his inner prude. Maybe Ford has body issues?

But by cold-shouldering the parade, as he did last year, Ford merely reminds everyone of his divisive clumsiness, the lack of sophistication he wears as if it were a badge of virtue, his small-mindedness. Further, it’s simply dumbass to snub an event that brings upwards of $135 million in economic benefits to the city and province and — as the third-largest gay pride celebration on the continent — immense cachet as well. This week’s cornucopia of activities includes everything from musical acts on five stages to art installations, book readings to erotic wrestling, and even a kids zone, all of it contributing to a lively jumble of entertainment and education.

In two years, Toronto will host World Pride. Perhaps by then another mayor will approach it with a higher regard for all of the city’s citizenry.

Ford does not make us proud.

Dog left to die in car while owners went shopping (updated)

Proves how stupid and careless people can be, and why people should NOT own pets.

It was 33 C today in Toronto and that’s not including the heat index. There are stupid, really stupid people who think it’s okay to leave their pets in the car while they go shopping for 3 hours! Oh, this explains it…the couple who did this are 20 and 21 yrs old. Stoooooooooopid!

I parked my car outside while I was cleaning the outside of my car, within 1/2 hour the inside of my car was 46 celcuis.

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS IN THE CAR!!! Or even children! Holy fuck, man! Get a brain, seriously!

Call the animal control or police if you see or hear a dog in the car in really hot weather, save a life!

Two people are under investigation after a young dog was found dead in a Vaughan parking lot Sunday afternoon.

Police say a pedestrian noticed a brown dog in a sealed silver car at the Vaughan Mills shopping centre around 2:15 p.m. and alerted mall security.

Emergency services were called as security personnel tried to splash water through a small opening in the window. Fire crews broke a window open to gain entry after the dog had fallen unconscious.

Officials tried in vain to resuscitate the dog.

Police have arrested two people. Cruelty to animals charges might be laid.

They’ve been arrested but what? a slap on the wrist and go to the corner punishment?  Their punishment should be the same they put upon that dog. Some people shouldn’t be on this planet, go to Mars or something.

‘Sweet’ dog killed in violent spear attack

Don’t know what’s happening to our world. But people are getting worse, no matter how much you change to make the world change.

I’m a dog owner, I’ve adopted two of the most gentle, quiet, friendliest, loving dogs. When I am in the elevator in my building or outside walking them I respect others if they don’t know better about dogs and how, just like people, are not all the same. But not everyone is smart and most people clearly lack intelligence) I’ll bring my dogs to the side.  In my condo, there are foreigners who won’t come into the elevator if they see my dogs. It’s one thing that you don’t like dogs, but if you see that they’re not threatening you, just go on with your business. But in this story below, you have a lunatic who took it upon himself and killed a dog.

I don’t like cats, I don’t mind them but I just don’t trust them. But it doesn’t mean I’ll kill it.

Now, I’m going to be he devil’s advocate. I’ve seen careless and irresponsible dog owners who let their dogs do what they want, run everywhere, without leash, and they just don’t care. Maybe that’s what happened here, no one knows. But you just don’t kill a dog. Call the humane society and let them deal with the problem, don’t take it on the dog. All problems are because of the irresponsible dog owner.

But all it takes is one lunatic.


Diesel’s owners say the 6-year-old Sheltie was so harmless he was afraid of thunderstorms.

And that’s why they are stunned and distraught their dog was fatally stabbed in the mouth with a sharp stick Friday as horrified neighbours looked on.

York Region police said the dog was stabbed with a spike attached to a broom handle around 6 p.m. that day.

Harmony Gayne, who described her dog as loyal and full of life, said she was on her way home from school when her mother Molly called to tell her something was wrong. When Harmony got to the house she saw the dog lying lifeless on the ground with blood near his jaw.

“He was lying there dead on the grass. I came and gave (Molly) a hug,” said Harmony, 24.

Police arrested a Richmond Hill man, who they haven’t identified. He was released from custody and ordered to appear in court May 25 on charges of injuring or endangering an animal.

Eye witnesses said Molly Gayne was walking Diesel in the neighbourhood near Bayview and 19th Aves. when she and a neighbour exchanged insults after the man accused her of not keeping her dog away from him.

“The dog walked up to him in a friendly manner. But the guy poked him with a stick in the mouth. The dog was on a leash,” said a witness who asked not to be named.

The dog staggered away bleeding from the mouth, and moments later collapsed near his home, the witness said.

“It made, like a whimpering sound” after the stabbing, the witness said, adding he had seen the dog many times in the past.

The witness said the assailant was wearing sunglasses, so he couldn’t see his eyes, but from the man’s body language he seemed angry at the time.

Another neighbour said her father heard Molly yelling, “He just killed my dog.”

The Gayne family got Diesel from relatives in the U.S. in March 2006. The American relatives, who adopted him from a shelter, had to give him away due to allergies.

Harmony said her family didn’t know the alleged assailant prior to the incident.

Neighbours say he rents a basement apartment down the street from the Gayne family.

The owner of the home where he lives declined to comment when the Star knocked on her door.

Muslim women must show face to become Canadian citizens

Here’s the thing, you immigrate to a new country Canada, you need to conform to new laws and traditions. You want to keep the veils on, stay in the country you came from. This Canada!! Coming here thinking that we need to bend over backwards and exempt them because of their religious beliefs, especially when it’s about disguising them, and that’s what it is. The veil literally covers their face except the eyes. Anyone can be hiding under that. There should be a ban altogether. What is this Halloween?? Welcome to North America!! It’s one thing to wear that thing on the head, but to cover your entire body with a sheet????

Let’s just say I travel to a country where I need to follow their norms, maybe wear something to respect their faith I will do that because I am in their country. For example, when I traveled to Israel a couple of years ago my bags were checked everywhere I went and I was questioned all the time to why I am traveling alone, I answered and let them check me out, what am I to say? Hell no, we don’t of that in Canada, screw you? I would of been arrested and locked up probably a rifle to my head.

It’s about time Canada gets a backbone.

OTTAWA—Muslim women who wear the niqab and other face-covering garments will now have to lift or remove their veils while they take the oath of Canadian citizenship in front of a room full of people.

“This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday as he announced the changes in Montreal.

“The citizenship oath is a quintessentially public act. It is a public declaration that you are joining the Canadian family and it must be taken freely and openly.”

The new rules require, effective immediately, anyone wishing to become a Canadian citizen to show their faces at public ceremonies as they swear the oath of citizenship, which means that Muslim women wearing a niqab or burka must remove them or else remain permanent residents.

The change came hastily as far as government policy is concerned, with none of the news releases or background material that usually accompanies such announcements.

Neither Kenney nor his department was able to provide any statistics on the number of women who have covered their faces during citizenship ceremonies, but departmental spokeswoman Nancy Caron said it used to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

It appears the issue began with four women in Mississauga.

Newly elected Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville) called up Kenney a few weeks ago to tell him that he had just left a citizenship ceremony in his riding.

“Four women had taken the oath wearing full burkas and veils,” Kenney told reporters Lizon informed him. “He raised this with the citizenship judge beforehand to say, ‘Is this illicit?’ And the citizenship judge said, ‘My hands are tied. The rule is that we have to permit them to take the oath.”

Lizon confirmed the gist of the story in an emailed statement from his office.

There was more.

“(Lizon) later noted as he was leaving the ceremony that these four people and a man who was accompanying them got into a car with New York state licence plates to drive away,” said Kenney, who added that he later asked about it at a meeting of citizenship judges in Ottawa and those from large urban areas told him it happens every week.

That was enough for Kenney, but not for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), an Ottawa-based Muslim civil rights organization that accused the Conservative government of basing harmful policy on anecdotal evidence.

“This decision will have a damaging effect on our democracy because it forces those who wear the niqab to choose between their religious convictions and adopting Canadian citizenship,” CAIR-CAN’s acting executive director Ihsaan Gardee said in a news release.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments last week in the case of a female complaint who wants to testify against male relatives in a sexual assault case while wearing the niqab.

David Butt, the lawyer representing the unnamed woman, said that while his case pits the religious rights of his client against the rights of the defendants to face their accuser, there is not a strong enough argument against extending Charter rights to women who want to cover their faces at a citizenship ceremony.

That is because a microphone could help judges hear the woman swearing the oath and a private check of documents in the presence of a female official would be enough to verify the identity of the applicant, Butt said.

“What you have is simply an announcement that a government is going to interfere with a Charter-protected right without even anything coming close to a valid reason,” Butt said.

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae said Kenney should have waited until the Supreme Court decides on the niqab case.

“This is all about taking a decision which the minister feels will be politically popular in the short term,” Rae said. “For the long term, we would be all wiser to have a look at the Supreme Court decision and see how they balance these issues in their own mind.”

Caron said anyone wearing a full or partial face covering will be told when they check in for the ceremony that they must remove them in order to become citizens that day and then be reminded once again by the clerk before oath begins.

Candidates for citizenship will now also be informed of the new requirement during their first interview.

“While the department does not keep stats on this, the requirement for citizenship candidates to show their faces is not expected to affect a large number of people,” Caron wrote in an email Monday.

Charges laid after couple has sex on subway

An online video taken by a fellow TTC rider at Spadina station appears to be authentic, according to a TTC spokesman. This is an edited image from the video.It gives a whole new meaning to riding the rocket.

A man and woman have been charged with engaging in a lewd act after a couple had sex on both a subway car and platform — in the middle of the afternoon.

The incident happened aboard a southbound train around 2:30 p.m. Sunday. A rider saw the couple — described as intoxicated and “old enough to know better” by TTC spokesman Brad Ross — having sex and just couldn’t ignore it.

“I wasn’t there, thankfully, but from what I understand, is a customer did activate the passenger assistance alarm,” said Ross. “They saw this couple engaged in I guess what would best be described as a lewd act.”

The train stopped and a TTC guard boarded and kicked the couple off at Spadina station.

But they clearly weren’t satisfied.

“Alcohol being a factor, they I guess decided they hadn’t completed their journey and continued on the platform,” Ross said.

A video apparently shot by a fellow passenger shows the train stopped as a man lies on top of a woman, moving rhythmically with his bare buttocks exposed. A TTC employee in a bright green jacket with reflective material stands at a reasonable distance on the yellow subway strip, and appears to curse at the couple to stop.

Ross said the video appears authentic, although he couldn’t access it from his TTC work computer.

Shortly after the train stopped at Spadina, police and EMS arrived on the platform. The couple was charged and transported to hospital due to their inebriation.

“People engaged in a sexual act on board a subway train in front of everybody else is not something the TTC… condones. Well, it is against the law,” said Ross.

Meantime, Toronto police have released the photo of a man suspected in two sexual assaults on the Bloor–Danforth subway line.

Police allege the man pretends to be asleep with a bag in his lap and then touches the thighs of nearby female passengers.

Condo here, condo there, condos everywhere in Toronto (239 being built as of today’s post)

Yes, we all know that Toronto is a city rife with building construction—but wait until you see just how much.
I keep complaining that the city is building a condo at every corner they can find, here’s the proof…but it’s more than that. Do we really need so many condos? NOOOOO We do not! There are currently 239 condos in construction and this does not include construction sites that have been set up but not in construction yet.

Toronto is growing up, not out. As Edward Keenan wrote in this week’s cover story for The Grid about CityPlace, there are more condo towers being built here than in any other city in the world. But that’s not all: there are dozens upon dozens of highrise construction sites all across Toronto, for everything from new hospitals to new office towers.

So where’s all of that building taking place, anyway, other than at the foot of Spadina?

The Grid decided to find out. Using data from the City of Toronto, we mapped every active seven-storey-or-higher building project in the city—a jaw-dropping 239 in total. (The map includes every location for which there is an active building permit or shoring permit, so long as those permits were issued between January 1, 2005, and October 31, 2011. Some buildings that are planned or have been announced may not be listed, if on-site work hasn’t yet begun.)

At a glance, one thing’s clear: while construction is mostly concentrated downtown, it’s far from limited to it. Plenty of new buildings are coming up along Sheppard Avenue, the mouth of the Humber River, near Bloor and Kipling, and along Queen West before it dips to meet Dufferin. Far be it from us to spoil the fun, though; have a look and see yourself.

Unpaid fines? Government is coming after you (Ontario,Canada)

Ten years after a family member used this person’s name while driving because of that person’s own drivers license was suspended, to their surprise they received a letter just last week notifying them without warning that their license is suspended until fines are paid. They went downtown to check it out, got a print out and had it paid. Total fines $1400 (3 tickets and a reinstatement fee). They had two options, to re-open file and report it or pay it. Luckily a family member intervened and paid it.

You have unpaid fines from many years ago, the government is coming after you and without warning to pay up.

Now that persons record is tainted with a suspension and when it comes to insurance renewal their insurance rates will go up.

Ontario needs tougher penalties — such as seizing cars and income tax refunds — to deal with the $1 billion in unpaid fines from traffic tickets and provincial offences such as driving without insurance over the years.

That was the push Wednesday from the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards after completing a 26-page white paper on the problem at the request of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s administration.

About $300 million is owed to the City of Toronto, now desperately looking for ways to raise revenue and cut costs.

With governments at all levels facing a cash crunch, the money from scofflaws is needed to pay for programs and to ensure justice is not undermined, said Alok Mukherjee, president of the association representing civilian police boards across the province.

“Our estimate is that the collectable amount is in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said at Queen’s Park.

Toronto is due $36 million from 2009 alone — part of $100 million in province-wide fines in default that year and enough to cover the projected shortfall in the 2012 TTC budget, the white paper says.

For 2009, charts in the report show York and Durham regions are each owed almost $4 million, Brampton $5 million and Mississauga $2 million.

One-third of fines are simply not paid after conviction and action is “long overdue,” added Mukherjee, noting the problem rose “exponentially” after responsibility for collecting fines was downloaded to municipalities by the province in the late 1990s.

He called for improved tools for collecting fines, including incentives such as discounts for early payments, doubling late-payment penalties and better sharing of information between the Transportation Ministry and the Ministry of the Attorney General on who is paying up.

“The biggest bang for the buck would be the denial of licence plate stickers,” said Fred Kaustinen, executive director of the police association.

“A cop doesn’t have to wait for an infraction to stop that person. They can stop them by seeing that the plate is out of date . . . It’s already linked to not paying your 407 bill to a private company. Certainly we could do that enforcement tool for a whole range of serious public safety infractions.”

Licence plate suspensions are effective but are limited to unpaid red light camera fines, unpaid tolls, some unpaid parking tickets, and fees and interest for Highway 407.

McGuinty agreed a fix is needed, particularly given that governments are facing tough economic times.

“That’s an important conversation that I can certainly say from my perspective we’d like to have,” he said after touring the Eglinton LRT construction site with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

“It’s going to be very important that we look for ways to ensure that any money owing to us is, in fact, being paid. And that’s for all levels of government I’m sure.”

Jim Wilson, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey, said municipalities “absolutely” need more powers to collect because offenders know “the current system is so weak.”

“It shouldn’t come to the point where police boards are screaming at you,” Wilson added.

Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli said it is “very, very difficult” to collect money from some people because they have moved — sometimes out of Ontario. That points to the need for changes in the province’s information technology systems to get the right data to the right people, he said.

“It’s a serious issue that’s being raised, and it needs serious attention, and it’s probably going to need a very serious solution.”

The $1 billion in outstanding fines includes:

$354.4 million for driving without auto insurance, invalid insurance or failing to produce an insurance card upon request

$314.6 million for Highway Traffic Act offences

$52.6 million for offences under the Liquor Licence Act

$41.8 million for breaking various municipal bylaws

$20.9 million for Occupational Health and Safety Act offences

$19.2 million for offences under the Trespass to Property Act

Who owes the money?

Ontarians: $870.5 million (91 per cent)

Other Canadians: $34 million

Americans: $18.4 million

Other foreigners: $1.6 million

Unknown: $29.8 million

Liberals (McQuinty) wins 3rd term in Ontario election, a first in a century



Robert Benzie Queen’s Park Bureau Chief


It’s a third term and a short leash for Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals.

Defying pre-election polls, pundit’s predictions and rookie rivals insisting it was time for a change, McGuinty led the Liberals to a rare “three-peat” win Thursday in the closest Ontario vote of the past quarter century.

But, pending possible recounts in some tight races, he appears to have fallen short of a majority and watched Liberal cabinet ministers and backbenchers lose their seats across much of the province.

As the Liberal tally hovered below the 54-seat threshold required for a majority in the 107-member Legislature, Grit insiders told the Toronto Star McGuinty would govern with a minority on an informal “case-by-case” basis with support from the New Democrats and, on occasion, the Progressive Conservatives.

“Dalton was clear — no deals — and with these numbers there is no need. When you’re at a threshold, it’s a mandate,” a senior Liberal insider said in Ottawa late Thursday night.

Another Grit predicted in Toronto that the lifespan of a minority administration — the first functioning one in Ontario since Tory Bill Davis from 1975 to 1981 — would be only “18 months to two years.”

Coincidentally, McGuinty, 56, is the first premier to win three straight elections since Davis in 1977.

But it is a bittersweet triumph, with Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky, Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell, Revenue Minister Sophia Aggelonitis, and Environment Minister John Wilkinson all appeared heading for defeat with incomplete returns.

The result was a hollow victory for Tory Leader Tim Hudak, 43, who until last week had led in nearly every public-opinion poll over the past two years.

“It’s been a long campaign, a hard-fought campaign, and although the result is not the one that we hoped for, we do accept it,” Hudak told disappointed supporters in Niagara Falls.

“We don’t yet know if this will be a minority or a majority government, but it is very clear that the people of Ontario have sent a strong message that they want a change in direction,” he said, hailing the “shorter leash” voters have placed on McGuinty

The apparent minority result also makes NDP Leader Andrea Horwath the most influential Ontario New Democrat since former premier Bob Rae left office in 1995. Horwath, 48, will hold the balance of power in a minority Parliament.

McGuinty had hoped to be the first premier since Conservative Leslie Frost in 1959 to form three consecutive majority governments and the first Liberal to do so since Sir Oliver Mowat, one of the Fathers of Confederation, in the 19th century.

For the past two years, it had seemed as if the campaign would be a referendum on his leadership — especially after the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax was introduced on July 1, 2010, raising levies on hydro bills, gasoline, and numerous other goods and services.

Indeed, facing a dynamic duo of younger rivals, McGuinty had braced for an all-out assault on his record in power, including past broken promises about not raising taxes and the eHealth Ontario expenses scandal, among other transgressions.

But both Hudak and Horwath released relatively centrist electoral programs months before the vote that only promised to tinker with the HST and most other Liberal initiatives, essentially arguing it was time for a change for change’s sake.

Hudak, who succeeded predecessor John Tory as PC leader in June 2009, pressed a few hot buttons — such as vowing to force provincial prisoners to work on chain gangs and equip sex offenders with GPS bracelets so they could be tracked — but he pledged to maintain Liberal levels of spending on health care and education.

That seemed to be a concession that by and large schools, colleges, universities and hospitals have improved under the Grits, a theme McGuinty emphasized almost every day of the writ period.

Hudak’s platform, Changebook, revealed he would keep running deficits as long as the Liberals planned to, not getting the province into the black until 2017.

It was a cautious, focus-group-tested manifesto that Tory strategists pored over to ensure there would not be a reprise of the 2007 election fiasco that saw them disastrously promise to expand the funding of faith-based schools beyond just the publicly financed Catholic system.

They also feared the Liberals would successfully attack Hudak, a minister from 1999 to 2003 in the PC governments of former premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, as a Common Sense Revolutionary of that tumultuous era.

Still, the Tories appeared to have blundered by pouncing on a leaked Grit campaign promise to spend $12 million on tax credits to help 1,000 foreign-trained new Canadian professionals get jobs.

Thinking they had lucked into a “wedge issue” that could be exploited the way Harris used resentment over welfare benefits and pay equity in 1995, Hudak’s campaign spent their first week of the election talking of little else.

They launched aggressive ads claiming the program — which the Liberals belatedly christened “No Skills Left Behind” — was for “foreign workers” and that “Ontarians need not apply.”

Convinced the strategy was attracting voters in parts of Ontario hard hit by job losses, the Tories initially hammered away on it until realizing the attacks were hurting their fortunes in cities like Toronto.

At the same time, the Liberals couldn’t believe their luck. Instead of talking about soaring hydro bills or the rising tax burden that could be blamed on the governing party, Hudak was fixated on a boutique Grit promise and looking like a xenophobe for his trouble.

Horwath, for her part, exceeded all expectations, putting a fresh face on a party predecessor Howard Hampton had led to defeat in 1999, 2003 and 2007.

While her campaign got off to a slow start, she hit her stride in the Sept. 27 leaders’ debate.

Polls and pundits agreed she was the strongest performer, sounding honest and homespun, and coming across as more affable than her testy male rivals.

Yet aside from Horwath’s gaining attention for her likability on TV, the debate did not seem to change the complexion of the contest.

McGuinty returned to the campaign trail talking about the 50,000 green energy jobs his subsidies for wind and solar power would create by the end of next year and his plan to cut college and university tuition by 30 per cent for low- and middle-income students.

His tightly focused, disciplined campaign met with only one major controversy — the decision to move a Mississauga gas-fired power plant already under construction in order to save Liberal seats there and in Etobicoke.

Hudak, meanwhile, was hindered by problems related to municipalities. His candid admission that a Tory government could not continue the Liberals’ uploading of civic social service costs to the province infuriated mayors like Ottawa’s Jim Watson and Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion.

As well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s surreptitiously taped summer musings at a barbecue with Mayor Rob Ford about a Tory “hat trick” in Ottawa, Queen’s Park and city hall at a barbecue did not help the provincial Tories.