When Canadian media by and large pretend a relatively high-profile mayoral candidate doesn’t exist — despite her repeatedly polling in third — and the only major news outlet in the city giving straight reporting on her campaign is a Chinese-Canadian TV network (the least communistic of the lot, apparently) many average citizens in a so-called free and open democracy begin scratching their heads.
(The Toronto Chinese-Canadian news station did not endorse Goldy in the report as she claims in the title of her video, but they did report on her mayoral campaign uncritically.)
No matter how extreme some of the things firebrand conservative mayoral candidate Faith Goldy has said in the past, or the far-right individuals she’s associated with, the ostensible veil of silence over her municipal run by pollsters, journalists and debate organizers is remarkable nonetheless. If she ends up placing relatively well when the results roll in at a little after 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) tonight, the media and pollsters will look out of touch and befitting of the dreaded “fake news” moniker.
Before pollsters stopped including Goldy as an option in their polls, she twice placed a distant third place out of the 35 registered candidates. A Mainstreet Research poll (September 16) found Goldy at six per cent support from decided voters, not an insignificant percentage of the overall electorate; six per cent would translate to 60,000 voters if the same number (just under a million) of Torontonians voted as did in 2014. The media chose to ignore this poll, instead citing the polling company’s follow-up poll (September 26) that showed Goldy’s support dropping precipitously to a quarter of her previous support, down to one-and-a-half per cent. Notably, the CEO of Mainstreet Research felt the need to say unequivocally that he and his employees all condemn Goldy at the time the second poll was released (not common practice in an industry that’s supposed to remain neutral and objective in their work).
Polls conducted since then have typically included the front-runners, John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat, as well as “another candidate” as options in their surveys. But a significant portion of the electorate, as high as 15 per cent in a recent poll, have been opting for one of the other 33 candidates. It’s not unreasonable to suspect a large subsection of that group of Torontonians are Goldy supporters, especially since she apparently has far more name-recognition with Torontonians than any of the other candidates who aren’t front runners. If this indeed is the case, which we will find out in a couple short hours, it will, at the very least, appear that the media and pollsters were actively trying to suppress and lie about the real amount of support Goldy’s campaign was garnering in spite of her being blacklisted from the debates (debate organizers’ ostensible excuses for why they excluded her seem questionable), lacking media coverage and the virtual duopoly of Bell and Rogers blocking her ads from airing on their stations.
Although I find Goldy’s far-right associations and certain beliefs reprehensible and extreme, I do not believe the best way for the media, pollsters, politicians and pundits to defeat what she stands for is to actively try to marginalize, ignore and dismiss her. As an astute observer and University of Toronto student Anastasia Pitcher wrote for the campus newspaper, The Varsity, these tactics end up giving “power and allure” to her “forbidden messages”. The tactics of suppression also help generate sympathy from outside observers — perhaps mostly unaware and ill-informed of Goldy’s past because the press haven’t done their jobs in covering her campaign fairly and accurately — that see her as being deprived of basic civil liberties, transforming her into a free speech martyr to many.
Instead of trying to suppress her message, a fool’s errand in the age of the internet anyway, Pitcher argues, and I wholly agree, authority figures should take Goldy head on, challenging her extreme views and faults in her arguments, as well as vetting her knowledge on how the Toronto municipal government actually operates.
But incumbent John Tory and the media took the politically-convenient coward’s way out. When Goldy stormed the stage of the first debate and crashed Tory’s press conference he pretended as if she didn’t exist. According to Conrad Black, in his mysteriously-delayed-for-nearly-a-week column defending Goldy’s right to campaign and debate, Tory did not object to Black arguing she didn’t deserve to be silenced. Yet, publicly, Tory made it clear he wouldn’t attend any debate Goldy was invited to, all while he apparently helped another fringe mayoral candidate, Black activist and lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, with less support than Goldy in the polls, get into the debates by giving her a contact list of the different debate organizers, which one can read was an attempt to siphon off some of the support from his main rival by having another left-wing candidate on the stage.
Not much sunlight was shone on Goldy’s campaign, like her questionable and dog-whistle proposals to have an extremist audit targeting Toronto mosques and her spurious claim that as mayor she would/could ship all illegal migrants in Toronto to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s front lawn. In sunlight’s absence, her forbidden campaign proliferated on social media, largely left unchallenged by Toronto’s authority figures.
Sure, Goldy did receive some coverage during the campaign from the mainstream press, but only after she resorted to extreme measures like walking onto a debate stage with a petition of 5,000 signatures demanding that she be allowed to debate before being dragged off the stage by police or suing Bell because they backed out last minute from a contractual agreement to air her ad on CP24. (The media were virtually silent on Bell declining to run her ad until she hired prominent civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby to try to legally compel the telecommunications company to air her commercial.)
Let’s say Goldy gets between five to ten per cent of the popular vote. How will the media look then when most of them have dismissed her as an insignificant “far-right fringe” candidate while Tory (who’s tight with many top Toronto media executives) and said media elevated candidates who may end up performing less well?
As I’ve tried to explain to others in the media who think that they, debate organizers and politicians have done a good job dealing with Goldy’s mayoral run, and that my coverage of her campaign is unwarranted and irresponsible, Goldy is just the latest recrudescence of a growing nationalist/nativist (the status quo throughout much of the rest of the world) movement sweeping across much of the West.
If Goldy does do relatively well, the same media and politicians should not condemn all of her supporters as racist deplorables. Regular citizens, not just racist bigots, may have concerns about the spike in Toronto homicide rates and see Goldy as the only candidate providing solutions they believe will combat that crime wave. Similarly, Toronto taxpayers who see the tens of thousands of migrants illegally entering Canada and jumping the queue may vote for Goldy out of frustration with Tory and Keesmaat ignoring the issue.
As odious as US President Donald Trump or Nigel Farage are to many people, a great many other citizens in their respective nations voted for them because they were fed-up with establishment candidates who they perceived didn’t look out for their interests and came across as phonies. Much of the electorate voted for these insurgent candidates, warts and all, because their platforms aligned more closely with what they wanted and they appeared authentic through their supposed candour. The press, pollsters and politicians, putting a thumb on the scale, condemning/suppressing these candidates only bolstered their campaigns, and the internet allowed these candidates the ability to bypass gatekeepers in spreading their messages. And as the gatekeepers did their best to help marginalize and neutralize these campaigns many people saw it as collusion, whether it was true or not, with the establishment candidates, giving the impression the entire process was “rigged”. It’s time the establishment realized their mistakes and took their opponents head on.
Even if Goldy doesn’t get above two per cent of the vote, she can now excuse her poor performance on the establishment conspiring against her. She’s also already achieved a victory in gaining thousands of followers and getting publicity from charlatans like Info Wars founder Alex Jones.
Finally, the main reason I decided to follow Goldy’s 2018 mayoral run closely is because I believe it is yet another harbinger of things to come. There are other prominent, well-spoken right-wing Canadian YouTube vloggers — Jordan Peterson, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux to name a few — who could take note of Goldy’s campaign and see an opportunity to wage their own insurgent political campaigns in the years to come.