During a debate among the Toronto mayoral candidates at Osgoode Hall law school, NDP city councillor David Miller criticized former Liberal and independent MP John Nunziata for his pro-life views. Dramatically, Miller reached into his pocket and pulled out a copy of pro-life legislation the former MP supported in the 1980s and attacked Nunziata’s opposition to “reproductive choice.” Miller added: “I think the people of Toronto need to know how extreme his proposals are.”
Moral issues are not usually raised in municipal campaigns, but when they are, it is invariably tied to a current controversy such as the funding of the local Planned Parenthood or the distribution of condoms or birth control by city health boards. A political consultant who talked to The Interim could not remember abortion ever being raised to attack the character of another candidate. “It seemed pretty desperate,” he said.
Not everyone thought the criticism was beyond the pale. Globe and Mail columnist John Barber vindictively said Nunziata had it coming to him. “The revelation of his nauseating opinions of women – or former views, it hardly matters,” Barber wrote, “focuses the gathering impression marvellously well.” And that impression? That the political and media elite in Toronto do not view Nunziata as fit to be mayor. Barber said Nunziata’s policies and ideas have proven he is “the candidate most unsuited to moderate, managerial-minded Toronto voters.”
A pro-life lobbyist told The Interim that the media has wanted to see Nunziata fail and have attacked or belittled him relentlessly. After a summer of polls showing Nunziata second to former mayor Barbara Hall, a CFRB radio newsreader said the campaign was a “two-person race between Barbara Hall and (former Rogers CEO) John Tory.” One reporter from a daily newspaper told The Interim that her editors had decided that they wanted this race to be between Hall, Miller and Tory and that they considered Nunziata’s “socially conservative views out of step with progressive Toronto.”
The other candidates all support abortion and are supported by some of abortion on demand’s leading advocates. Hall’s campaign is backed by pro-abortion Liberal MP Jean Augustine, pro-abortion and homosexual activist MPP George Smitherman and feminist actress Arsinee Khanjian. Miller has been endorsed by social activist and abortion advocate June Callwood and feminist leader Judy Rebick. Tory has former Ontario premier David Peterson and pro-abortion Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella working on his campaign.