7 News Archive
Sewell, Howard returned
Stamm loses decisively

By Ulli Diemer
Seven News, December 18, 1976

The difference between the campaigns of John Sewell and Janet Howard, on the one hand, and Garry Stamm, on the other, was apparent as soon as you walked across the street from the one headquarters to the other on election night.

Halfway through the evening, the Sewell-Howard election-night centre was filled with a noisy crowd celebrating their candidates’ decisive victory.

Across the street, the Stamm headquarters was quieter, with far few people present. But the striking point was that the Stamm people had not realized yet that they had lost. The reason was poorer communications, which in turn reflected a considerably smaller base of campaign workers.

Results came in rapidly to Sewell-Howard, phoned in by the organization’s scrutineers in each individual poll. The Stamm organization only had scrutineers in a fraction of the polls – the polls where Stamm was strongest – so the results that came in earliest gave the impression that Stamm was doing much better than he actually was. While Sewell-Howard workers were celebrating their unbeatable lead in the Parkway Tavern, the Stamm organizers thought their man was only a few hundred votes behind Howard. In consequence, the later results were all the more devastating.

It was the story of Stamm’s campaign. He organized hard, and did fairly well, in a number of areas, notably in the highrises, especially in St. Jamestown and in the more affluent parts of Don Vale. In other areas of the ward, such as Regent Park and most of Riverdale, he was never really in the race at all.

Stamm’s campaign itself seemed to blow hot and cold. He charged into the fray early, announcing his candidacy in early June, probably the first contender to do so. He produced his first pamphlet in August, and then his campaign organization seemed to fall asleep for a while. No more literature appeared until November, and the campaign office stood empty until the last few weeks of the campaign. It picked up again in the stretch, but couldn’t match the resources of the much broader base of active support that Sewell and Howard were able to throw into the battle.

The Sewell-Howard campaign was an impressive and highly organized operation. They produced several major pieces of literature, and their organizers knocked on almost every door in the Ward two or three times.

Stamm’s literature also dealt with the issues, although at times he went so far in trying to cover what he considers his undeserved right-wing image with more a moderate cloak that there seemed to be little that he disagreed with the incumbents on other than their style and personality. For example, Stamm stressed housing tenants’ rights, the problems with market value reassessment, his opposition to Winchester Square as presently conceived. All of them were issues with which Sewell and Howard have identified themselves.

For Sewell and Howard, the election was just the beginning of the challenges they must meet over the next two years. They warned on election night that more high rise development, road widening, tax jumps, and erosion of tenants’ rights are all on the agenda for the next two years unless enough support can be mobilized to stop them.

Sewell especially is convinced that most of the key decisions are being made on the Metro level, and he proposes to spend much more time dealing with Metro issues. His priorities are symbolized by his decision to seek a seat on the Toronto City Executive and the Metro Executive Committee. They indicate the change in perspective he has undergone in his seven years as an alderman, which began with an almost total commitment to local issues, local power, and local solutions.

Published in Seven News, Volume 7, Number 13, 18 December, 1976

Related topics:
Toronto/City Politics