Can John Tory finally win an election as Mayor of Toronto in 2010?

Jul 28th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
SUNshine Girl Carline is competing in the 2010 Canadian Track and Field Championships this week at U of T. There are some rumours, probably false, that she supports Smitherman for mayor.

SUNshine Girl Carline is competing in the 2010 Canadian Track and Field Championships this week at U of T. There are rumours, probably false, that she supports Smitherman for mayor.

[UPDATED AUGUST 6]. Does it make any difference to the rest of Canada (to say nothing of the still wider global village) just who will be elected mayor of Canada’s current biggest city this coming October 25, 2010?

The obvious answer is no, of course not. “Let’s All Hate Toronto,” and all that.

But then there are the not-so-famous words that Morley Callaghan put into the mind of a fictional university professor from New Zealand, in his unique novella of 1948, The Varsity Story (subsequently also cited by the American literary critic Edmund Wilson, in the 1960s):

“As a city Toronto had a reticent coldness. In other Ontario towns and in the West they jeered at Toronto. But he had soon learned that many of these places were simply smaller Torontos. The more bitterly they mocked at Toronto the more conscious they seemed to be that the Toronto spirit was a skeleton hidden in their own closets.”

SUNshine girl Crystal is a Toronto Argos cheerleader who wants to own a beach house. Her favourite time off is by the pool with a good novel. Ernest Dorozuk photo.

SUNshine girl Crystal is a Toronto Argos cheerleader who wants a beach house. Her favourite time out is by the pool with a good novel. Ernest Dorozuk photo.

So, it may be slightly appropriate to note here that (not for the first time): “John Tory leaning toward run for mayor’s chair,” and “Mayor Tory rumours heat up … Constant speculation about a late entry into the race shows how unimpressed city is, so far.”

John Tory (you may remember) is a scion of an ancient local establishment that stretches all the way back to the 19th century, when a visiting Charles Dickens moaned: “the rabid Toryism of Toronto is, I speak seriously, appalling.” And it is true enough that one of his current boosters is former rabid right-wing Ontario premier Mike “the Knife” Harris.

On the other hand, it is part of Mr. Tory’s contemporary attraction that even the likes of the self-confessed local “political hack in search of a mayoralty candidate,” Calgary-raised Liberal (and liberal) Warren Kinsella, are enthused about this latest permutation of his potential candidacy. There is a pinko side to the old Toronto Tory establishment that is vaguely progressive, and reaches out to a wider constituency than either Mike Harris or Stephen Harper. It is one of John Tory’s virtues that he is still seen by more than a few Torontonians as personifying this earlier tradition (which has otherwise seemed dead as a doornail lately, even in the old Upper Canada).

SUNshine Girl Aleks wished all Toronto Sun readers a Happy Canada Day 2010! She wants a career in fashion and loves music and sports. Alex Urosevic photo.

SUNshine Girl Aleks wished all Toronto Sun readers a Happy Canada Day 2010! Alex Urosevic photo.

Mr. Tory’s great problem, here as elsewhere, is that he has so often run for this and other elected offices before and lost. Or, as a Toronto Sun comment writer called “Cynic” has aptly summarized the case against him: “When it comes to politics Tory has screwed up every chance he got. He cost the PC an election, he lost his own seat, he let Miller outsmart him (that takes some doing) … If he runs all he will do is siphon off the center votes and let a red liberal like Slitherman get in. It would have been different if he had announced this from the start so that other candidates could drop out. He is a total political screw-up.”

Debbie Wong, first runner up Miss Chinese Toronto 1996. Much more recently: host of football reality show, “Carlsberg Man of the Match Challenge.” Possibly a fan of John Tory as well.

Debbie Wong, first runner up Miss Chinese Toronto 1996. Much more recently: host of football reality show, “Carlsberg Man of the Match Challenge.” Possibly a fan of John Tory as well.

Personally, I will be happy enough to vote for the red liberal (and former Dalton McGuinty provincial cabinet minister) George Smitherman. However, I’d agree that, through no fault of anyone in particular, local voters’ lists still over-represent days somewhat gone by. And there are those on these lists who fear that a Mayor Smitherman will make Toronto seem a bit too much like the San Francisco it already resembles more than is customarily admitted. And this, along with the increasingly clear political fact that Rob Ford is a little too rabidly right-wing to defeat “Slitherman,” in the otherwise quite non-Tory Toronto of 2010, probably explains the new late-in-the-day enthusiasm for a last-minute John Tory candidacy better than anything else.

Moreover, if Mr. Tory does finally decide to run again, I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if he finally did win this time. But I wouldn’t bet on it either …

UPDATE AUGUST 6: Mr. Tory has finally decided that he does not need to go through it all again, no doubt wisely enough.  There is much more to life than politics. See: “Tory makes it official: He’s not running” ; and “John Tory is officially out of the mayoral race — again.”

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