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The Rob Ford Pledge-O-Meter: Has Ford really done 90 per cent of what he said he'd do?

After finally extracting himself from a broken elevator, Mayor Rob Ford delivered his typical speech to the Economic Club of Canada last month. It was the standard package of mistruths we’ve come to expect.

Ford capped things off by bragging about his record and how it relates to campaign promises he made in 2010.

“You trusted me to put your hard-earned money where it needs to go, and I’m so proud to say that that’s exactly what my administration has done,” he said. “Another promise made, another promise kept. Ninety per cent of what I said I was going to do, I have done.”

Ninety per cent, eh? If only there was some way to verify that claim.

Oh, wait, there is.

In 2012, I published the Rob Ford Pledge-o-Meter, a running tally of Ford’s achievements. At the time, I gave him credit for accomplishing about 19 per cent of what he said he’d do in 2010. I’ve since had a bunch of people email to ask for an update. Here it is.

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So what percentage of his campaign promises has Ford delivered on? I’ll give him 23 per cent, up four per cent from 2012.

And that’s being generous. I gave him partial points for things he made progress on but didn't complete. I could have easily not done that, as Ford said nothing in 2010 about achieving marginal progress on issues — he said he could get things done.

All items were taken directly from Ford For Mayor campaign documents. I awarded him one point by every item marked “complete” and a half-point for every partial success.

Let’s break it down.

Ford did, of course, eliminate the vehicle registration tax. He also reduced councillor expense budgets to $30,000, though later reforms took the starch out of that one. His own office budget was slashed by 20 per cent. (Council later reduced it even further — though Ford wasn’t in favour of that.)

He followed through on just a few of his promises on government transparency and accountability. Most City of Toronto spending was already published online, but Ford did get purchase card data published to the web. He also implemented whistleblower protection for city employees, but that didn't do much to protect Gary Webster, did it? And, sure, all votes of City Council are now recorded, even the procedural ones.

On transit, I gave him a partial point for somehow stumbling his way to the Scarborough subway, but I can’t give him a full point without shovels in the ground. He also gets a half-point on garbage collection. He promised to contract out garbage citywide, but only got halfway there.

Partial credit also goes to his effort at reducing the city’s road repair backlog, coordinate the city’s traffic lights and introduce colour-coded curb painting to make parking rules easier to understand. I’m being really generous on that one, as literally only one curb got painted.

He gets another half point for his campaign pledge on bike lanes. Ford’s record on cycling has been terrible, but councillors in 2011 did pass something called the “Mayor’s bike plan” that included money for off-street trails. Some of them have been built.

Council has not been reduced to 23 members. They’re all still here, with no sign of going away. They also still have their staff budgets, despite a Ford pledge to cut them.

On transparency, Coun. Doug Ford likes to claim there’s now more competitive purchasing at city hall but there’s been no significant policy change and Doug Ford himself was involved in a sole-sourced deal to produce a grand plan for Toronto’s port lands. It had a Ferris wheel.

Similarly, there’s been no movement to make the minutes from city hall meetings held in camera available to the public, though I’d sure be interested in seeing them. And nothing resembling a “Saving Our City” program has been developed.

That's been little progress on community consultation. Ford has been witness to lots of deputations, but not really because he encouraged it. He certainly hasn't expressed any desire to allow them at city council meetings, even though he promised to do so in 2010. And no powers have been delegated to Community Councils for more localized decision-making, though I still think it’s a great idea.

On customer service, nothing. Instead of introducing real across-the-board policy reform, the mayor has focused on telling people to call his office instead of 311. Customer service is bad enough that the ombudsman has stepped in.

And there are other broken promises. The land transfer tax still exists. There are not 100 more police officers patrolling Toronto’s streets. The fair wage policy is still in effect. There will be no Sheppard Subway built to Scarborough Town Centre before the Pan Am Games. Ford never removed any streetcar routes. He’s done nothing to expedite smart card technology for TTC fare payment. He hasn’t invested $400 million in new road improvements. He has not created a Central Roadwork Coordination Centre.

Finally, he has not reduced the City of Toronto spending by $3 billion. He hasn’t even reduced it by $1 billion.

To be fair to Ford, it’s unlikely that any politician will ever achieve most of what they promise on the campaign trail. But most of them have the good sense not to distort their record to the absurd level Ford does.

Some have pushed the notion that Ford would have done more if only some councillors hadn’t stood in his way. Ford is pushing this idea himself in his YouTube series with his long list of council enemies. In many cases, though, Ford hasn't even attempted to pass bills that would enact his campaign promises. And even in cases where council has defeated him, a mayor who has been so thoroughly obstructed by council is a mayor that’s failed at his job.

Or, at least, most of the job. 77 per cent of the job, by my count.

This post was originally published at on 2014-02-19T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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