The Smitherman campaign for Mayor of the best city in Canada is losing some traction. In recent debates Smitherman has lost his cool, ie shouting back at people in the audience during the debate on the John Tory show, telling AIDS activists he disagrees with them on harm reduction, in fact Smitherman has taken the same position as Stephen Harper. Harper and the Conservatives have tried to end the federal permit allowing the Vancouver Safer Injection site to operate.
At the LGBT debate in which Smitherman appeared to be making a guest appearance, (it lasted only 30 minutes because he scheduled an endorsement from Montreal MP Justin Trudeau for 8pm.) he called safer injection sites shooting galleries. For the former Minister of Health to suggest such a thing is reprehensible. That is the language you expect to hear from candidate for US Senate, Christine O'Donnell and Rob Ford or Vic Toews.
At the same debate Smitherman was asked about funding HIV/AIDS prevention programs at the city. Smitherman said he would protect the funding envelope but refused to say if the funding envelope would be smaller. Pantalone suggested that neither Ford nor Smitherman could promise to protect much of anything in public services when you take into account their promises to cut and freeze taxes and eliminate some taxes all together. Pantalone went on to say he would at the very least increase funding by the rate of inflation.
It seemed to be that Smitherman had decided he did not want a debate on queer issues if Rob Ford was not there. Again, he was "forced" to be there or he would have been confirmed as a hypocrite. With Ford there, Smitherman could point to Ford's homophobic politics hiding the shallow politics of his own.
The other problem for Smitherman at the queer debate was Pantalone's record. He has been there for the queer communities from the beginning. He has supported our issues at city council and has called on the Ontario government to add to Toronto's efforts. Imagine the nightmare for Smitherman, in his own neighbourhood facing a straight man who has quietly done as much or more for our queer communities. No wonder Smitherman dashed off to pay homage to Canada's political royal family.
And as the Toronto Star pointed out recently, one half of Smitherman's support comes from people who are voting for him because they don't want Rob Ford. Hardly a ringing endorsement. I know some who have done this in early voting and more that will do so on October 25, hold their nose and vote for Smiatherman.
I won't be holding my nose, I won't be happy with the election for Mayor outcome. I will however feel good about my vote. I know I and thousands of others will have our job cut out for us trying to save what we can from the budget slashing to come.