That a Portuguese candidate would find herself trumpeted by a Portuguese publication is hardly news.
Still, the appearance of Ward 18 hopeful Ana Bailão on the cover of Senso Magazine is certainly raising some questions.
Heavily Portuguese areas north of Queen and around Bloor were recently treated to a free delivery of Senso with a smiling Bailão gracing the cover.
Inside was a five-page interview that included her rags-to-riches story framed by images of election signs and a flyer that read "On October 25th Elect...."
Senso has reason to parade the campaign literature - members of its staff are responsible for designing Bailão's signs, flyers and website through a company known as Creative7 (C7).
Bailão, who is in a dramatic showdown with Adam Giambrone's former EA Kevin Beaulieu, assures me that "those are two completely different companies."
All right, but both are located in unit 9, 300 New Toronto, and Senso's news editor and creative director, Ana Fernandes-Iria and husband Jamie Iria, are also C7's manager and CEO.
The line between Senso and Bailão is blurry. Senso's website (ptvirtual.com) features an article on Bailão's commitment to increased parking. No author, just a note to contact Paula Oliveira for more information.
When I contact Oliveira, a Bailão volunteer, she says she "translated the article for her."
"Her" meaning Ana Bailão?
"She did [the article] herself."
Interesting. Sure enough, the English version is on Bailão's website with a note to call Anthony Irving for information.
When Irving isn't knocking on doors for Bailão, he's a senior consultant for Devon Group, a government relations (lobbying) firm whose successes and clients range from Toronto's Pan Am Game bid to the Building, Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
Asked to explain the relationship between Senso and Creative7, Jamie Iria says he doesn't do interviews. "I'm just a designer. I don't get involved in politics."
Senso was founded by its current editor-in-chief, Jack Prazeres, a co-owner of Trican Masonry and a director at the Masonry Contractors' Association of Toronto. Although he's donated to multiple campaigns, including Bailão's, he also declines to speak, saying, "I don't get involved in politics."
Bailão raised over $70,000 in her last (2003) campaign, mainly from the development and construction industry. We know this because doc film maker Scott Dobson did the research and showed it around.
Dozens of ads for construction-related corporations and unions litter Senso's pages. Companies and unions can no longer shower their favourite Toronto candidate with cash because city council voted to ban that practice last December.
Bailão is certainly not new to the workings of business; she served as vice-president of Banco Comercial Português and is currently on leave from her gig as VP of marketing and director of strategic business development at GlobeStar Systems.
But she denies that there's anything untoward in the free giveaways of Senso and her relationship with C7. The magazine, she tells me, has "always been distributed in the community in bakeries" and shops, but delivery to households "has always been their intention."
Roger Brook is campaigning for Kevin Beaulieu.