Brown and Jeffrey are tied. New poll shows the former Ontario PC leader has caught the incumbent in the race to be Brampton’s next mayor
Patrick Brown has made up an eight-point deficit he faced at the end of August to catch Linda Jeffrey in the race to be Brampton’s next mayor, according to a new poll by Forum Research published exclusively by The Pointer.
With voting in Brampton’s municipal election three days away, residents left wondering about their candidate’s chance of victory will have a nervous weekend as the race is now essentially a coin toss, with the result likely to be determined by which of the two front-runners can get out the vote come Monday.
The random Forum poll surveyed 647 eligible Brampton voters on Thursday and found Jeffrey and Brown in a dead heat. Both candidates were named as the choice of 40 percent of decided and “leaning” respondents who answered the survey. The results are accurate within plus or minus four percent, 19 times out of 20.
An earlier poll conducted by Forum commissioned by The Pointer at the end of August showed Brown trailing Jeffrey, at 33 percent compared with her 41 percent support. The former Ontario PC leader was not yet well known among many Brampton residents at that time but has since been the focus of a dizzyingly busy campaign, with as many as a dozen events a day.
Jeffrey did not attend The Pointer’s debate in September after she fell ill but has since won some major boosts on the campaign trail, picking up endorsements from several of the city’s MPs and MPPs, from all three of the major parties.
Meanwhile, Brown had an endorsement coup of his own. Legendary Brampton politician and former Ontario premier Bill Davis threw his support behind him, even though Davis had supported Jeffrey four years ago and introduced her as the city’s new mayor at her election-evening event in 2014.
Things soured between the two when Davis called Jeffrey out for misrepresenting facts surrounding the city’s contentious LRT debate in 2015, and Jeffrey lashed out at him in response.
Brown also secured the support of the majority of the city’s current councillors, many of whom locked horns with Jeffrey throughout the council term in a dynamic widely described as “dysfunctional.”
Jeffrey has clearly sensed Brown was gaining ground in the race for the mayor’s chair. She has continually attacked his lack of experience in Brampton throughout the campaign, while bringing up allegations of sexual misconduct that have dogged him since the beginning of the year, when he stepped down as Ontario PC party leader.
His resignation over the allegations came while he was the front-runner to become premier in the June 7 provincial election. Brown has consistently denied the allegations and described them publicly as devastating to himself and his family. He is suing CTV, seeking $8 million in damages, after the network broadcast the original story about the allegations, which have not been proven.
Jeffrey has faced criticism throughout her campaign as well. Though she has talked about the need to plan for the city’s future and address issues such as how to deal with increasing violent crime, she has been harshly criticized by most of the other six mayoral candidates for failing to outline concrete ideas. A familiar refrain from her opponents has been that she has few accomplishments to show, after her four years as mayor.
Jeffrey pointed out throughout the campaign that it was difficult to get much done because of the bloc of members who voted against her on almost every major issue.
She spent much of her time over the past seven weeks pointing out decisions they pushed through, which she characterized as being bad moves for the city, such as their taxpayer-funded support through a sponsorship deal for the local professional hockey team and the buyout of a money-losing golf club.
Brown has also faced criticism during the campaign. He was questioned about his apparent attempt to influence a Hamilton-area nomination race while he was PC leader, an allegation he denied. The matter is currently being investigated by Hamilton police. And this week the CBC, the Toronto Star and other media published reports, based on leaked provincial government information, that Brown had spent the equivalent of almost the entirety of his MPP office’s annual budget in two months, ahead of his resignation, mostly for staffing, roughly $292,000.
Brown’s explanation to the CBC was that, “All my staff were legally and morally entitled to severance in my transition from leader of the Official Opposition to MPP to stepping down at the last general election.”
He further clarified, saying, “They were paid by the Ontario Legislature in accordance with the policy regarding severance for staff of departing MPPs and cabinet ministers.”
It’s possible media coverage of the leaked document, a few days before the election, could have an impact on such a close race.
As for the other candidates, the Forum poll shows that 7 percent of respondents support John Sprovieri, 5 percent would choose Wesley Jackson, Bal Gosal and Vinod Kumar Mahesan each garner 4 percent, and Mansoor Ameersulthan would get 1 percent.
But it’s clear that, come Tuesday, either Patrick Brown or Linda Jeffrey will be the next mayor of Brampton.
For full results of the Forum poll go to: http://poll.forumresearch.com/post/2894/brampton-2018
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