7 News Archive
Patton campaign tactics come under fire

George Patton’s campaign tactics created a great deal of anger among his opponents in the last few days of the Ward 7 aldermanic race, but they don’t seem to have done him any good: he got clobbered.

The particular thing that raised hackles was Patton’s final campaign leaflet, issued in the last days of the campaign. It release was timed so as to make it impossible for the other leading contenders, Janet Howard and Gordon Cressy, to respond to it before election day. Nor could anything concerning the leaflet appear in Seven News, which had been published a few days earlier and which was not due to come out again until after election day.

What Patton’s leaflet did was to try to latch onto Gord Cressy’s coattails by making it seem that there was a “Cressy-Patton Team.” Altogether, the leaflet referred to Gord Cressy five times. There were two references to the so-called “Cressy-Patton Team,” in red ink and big block letters. In a “Message from George Patton” which took up a full panel of the pamphlet, Patton urged voters to vote for both himself and Cressy. The message said that “Although we are not in fact running on a slate, I believe that Cressy-Patton combination could provide the people of Ward 7 with constructive, balanced, and positive representation at City Hall. Finally, the pamphlet gave the traditional campaign leaflet listing of candidate’s name marked with an ’X’, given more than four times as much space as the opposing candidates, and highlighted in bright colours. The only difference was that unlike other such leaflets, Patton’s not only highlighted his own name but Cressy’s as well.

The way it would tend to appear to voters, or course, was that Cressy and Patton were running as a team, if not actually “on a slate.”

Cressy immediately repudiated Patton’s manouver in a letter sent to Patton, other candidates, and the media, but the incident received little attention in the Toronto media, which are not geared to close coverage of local ward campaigns.

Cressy’s letter to Patton stated that “I would like to formally state that no such relationship (as was suggested in the pamphlet -ed.) exists, that I was never consulted by you concerning any of these references, and that, while I am running independently, Janet Howard and I are operating mutually supportive campaigns.

Patton attempted to defend himself with an evasive letter which touched on only one of the five references to Cressy, the one saying they were not running on a “slate.” Patton’s reply says nothing about the reference to a “Cressy-Patton Team.”

Some Ward 7 political activists said that Patton’s manoevre reminded them of the 1972 campaign of Richard Kirkup. Kirkup, a candidate parachuted into the ward to run against then-aldermen Jaffary and Sewell, put out a phony flyer purporting to be Seven News, making it seem that Seven News supported him. At that time, Seven News went to court and obtained an injunction against Kirkup which prevented him from distributing the flyer.

For Patton, the controversial brochure was the final salvo of a campaign that was rather odd by recent Ward 7 standards.

Patton’s first piece of literature stressed his name and his family connections. (“It’s a famous name,” he said, referring to the indisputable – but totally irrelevant fact that he happens to have the same name as the famous American general.)

The thirty-year-old Patton went on to list the various professions he claims to have practiced: youth cousellor, teacher, university lecturer, electronics technician, geologist, carpenter, plumber, electrician, Rhodes scholar, and mechanic.

This was followed by more references to his family which, voters were told, has included – over the last 100 years or so – two clergymen, a university president, and four members of Parliament. His brother, according to his campaign literature is a “Medical Doctor,” while his sister is a “Registered Nurse.” What all this had to do with the campaign issues in Ward 7 or why an election pamphlet should be devoted to it, was never made clear.

When he did attempt to deal with the issues (a Patton campaign worker was sent to Janet Howard’s headquarters on Parliament Street to obtain literature “so that George can find out what the issues are”) the result was also less than impressive. Patton’s issues were all more or less lifted from Sewell, Cressy, and Howard literature, but they lost something in translation. On “High-Rise Development,” for example, Patton’s only promise was no more high-rises in St. Jamestown, a rather ridiculous pledge in view of the fact that there is no room for more high-rises in St. Jamestown, which is already 100 per cent covered by them.

Given Patton’s campaign, it’s hardly surprising that he managed less than half the number of votes of second-place finisher Janet Howard. What is surprising is that he got as many votes as he did.

Published in Seven News, 18 November 1978

Related Topics: Toronto/City Politics