John Tory front runner in Toronto mayoralty race now … but ??

Sep 6th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

John Tory at Allen's pub on Danforth Avenue, celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Toronto, Monday, March 17, 2014. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun.)

All who are worried that Rob Ford might actually be re-elected Mayor of Toronto this coming October 27, 2014 have been able to take fresh courage from the latest Nanos poll on the subject.

This involved a telephone survey between August 27 and 31, using a  random sample  of 1,000 Toronto voters. Among those already decided  42% said they’d vote for John Tory, 28% for Rob Ford, and 26% for Olivia Chow.

One of the biggest surprises of this poll – and the general pattern of similar surveys since the middle of the summer, say – is the continuing weak performance of Olivia Chow. She used to be the clear front runner, back in the spring.

Olivia and Jack, riding the streetcar. In the now vanished golden age of the Toronto New Democrats ?? Photo by Tania Liu, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Bob Hepburn at the Toronto Star has pointed to Ms Chow’s status as a queen of the local New Democrats (widow of Jack Layton, legendary city councillor, high-profile NDP MP in Ottawa), and the gradual clicking-in of fading NDP support across the city. Or as Hepburn puts it : “the traditional NDP base in Toronto has been vanishing in recent years.” (Yet exactly how true all this is no doubt remains somewhat uncertain. Will the 2015 federal election confirm that the New Democratic Party of Canada no longer has serious traction in Canada’s current largest metropolis?)

Another sign of a perhaps gathering perfect storm for John Tory is captured in Kelly McParland’s recent National Post column, headlined “Wynne Liberals signal preference for Tory as the man to rid them of Rob Ford.”

It’s one thing, Mr. McParland seems to be saying, for John Tory’s old protege (and current Ontario Liberal cabinet minister) Mitzie Hunter to campaign for him – from the start. But recent support from Ontario Liberal infrastructure minister Brad Duguid is raising the bid much higher. The Wynne Liberals in some quite generic sense, as Kelly McParland sees things, have now virtually endorsed the former Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader John Tory as the next Mayor of Toronto.

Ontario Liberal infrastructure minister Brad Duguid endorses John Tory – and, it would seem, his public transit infrastructure policies.

Marcus Gee in the Globe and Mail has set all this out rather tidily : “It has been a great week for John Tory, the former business executive and provincial Conservative leader who is trying to tip Rob Ford from the mayor’s chair …  First an opinion poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV News showed that, with the support of 42% of voters, he held a considerable lead …”

Mr. Gee goes on : “Then a big player in provincial politics, Liberal cabinet minister Brad Duguid, put party differences aside and heartily endorsed” John Tory “for mayor. Finally, on Thursday, he put in an authoritative performance in the first major debate since Labour Day, when campaigning starts to go into high gear and voters start paying closer attention … The question is whether Mr. Tory can sustain the momentum, live down his reputation as a vacillating leader who often blows his best chances, and finally come out a winner on Oct. 27.”

* * * *

John Tory (l) and his father John Tory Sr. on election day in Ontario 2007. The elder Mr. Tory passed away in the spring of 2011.

This does at last seem to be the big question of the Toronto mayoralty race at this moment. And it has been anticipated at least twice before on this website and by the same author. (ME, Citizen X – “Summer in the city 2014 : will John Tory at last be new big surprise Mayor of Toronto that everyone misses?”, Jul 9th, 2014 ; and “Can John Tory finally win an election as Mayor of Toronto in 2010?”,  Jul 28th, 2010.)

Or, can this agreeable and even talented throwback to the days of the Family Compact in Old Upper Canada finally make it to the finish line this time? Without some gaff of the let’s-start-getting-really-crazy-about-public-funding-for-religious schools sort, widely thought to have ruined both him and his party in the 2007 Ontario provincial election? (Which he also lost to a guy who looked like Anthony Perkins in Psycho, etc, etc.)

Olivia Chow at Caribbean Carnival, August 2014.

Personally, I still believe I will be voting for Olivia Chow. She is the most beautiful candidate, whatever else you may feel about the NDP these days. But I definitely do not want to see Rob Ford win again. And I am already foregoing my heart’s favourite mayoral candidate, who doesn’t stand a chance, the saxplayer for the taxpayer, Richard Underhill.

In any case, I am starting to think that, after so many years of nobly trying, maybe there’s actually a good enough chance John Tory will finally win an election to public office in what the Old Upper Canada has become (the Canadian Province of Ontario 2014), and begin a no doubt distinguished enough career as Mayor of Toronto.

If you doubt Marcus Gee’s judgment about Tory’s “authoritative performance in the first major debate since Labour Day,” eg, check out Jennifer Pagliaro’s report on the same event in the Toronto Star : “John Tory roasts Rob Ford at board of trade debate.”

“The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, CivicAction CEO Mitzie Hunter, CivicAction Chair, John Tory and the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of Transportation tour the new light rail vehicle at the CivicAction Forum: Our Region, Our Move on April 17, 2013.”

As just a taste of  Pagliaro’s account: “Tory challenged Rob Ford’s claims he is doing or has gotten done all the things in Toronto that need fixing. Laughter ensued … As Olivia Chow at times fought to be heard during the free-for-all debate, David Soknacki was often the first to jump in to challenge both Tory and Ford on what he called ‘fantasy’ transit plans and funding … [But then Ford said] :  ‘More rumours, innuendos, FOIs, they don’t stop’ … ‘You just keep providing material,’ Tory said, to laughs … [And then Ford complained] : ‘You know what, nothing’s been true, has it, John?’ … ‘A lot of it has,’ Tory said … The four candidates will debate again in Etobicoke Friday evening.”

(Ie, last night! And for an early Etobicoke report here see “Rob Ford tells debate audience he will be mayor for ‘another 14 years’.”Â  In fact, of course, Mr Ford has only been mayor for four years so far, though he was a city councilor for 10 years before that. But he does seem to know all this deep down. His exact words were : “I’m going to continue to be mayor for the next, a lot longer than four year[s], another 14 years.” In the same debate “Mr. Tory … earned warm applause from the audience on several occasions.”)

Alex Mazer, as he appears on his website!

Finally, if you still haven’t felt your full fix yet, try :

*  “Olivia Chow in a new ad about chips … Mayoral candidate would not dip her Pringles chips.”

* “Rob Ford campaign volunteer charged with assault … Charge stems from alleged altercation at mayor’s campaign office in Scarborough.”

*  “Toronto mayor’s race: Who has the best plan to fix the city? … Slow race heats up as transit becomes central issue.”

* “More fiscal honesty needed at Toronto City Hall … Toronto’s real budget problem is the large gap between public goods needed and the money that’s available.” (By Alex Mazer, running for council in Ward 18, and “a Harvard-educated lawyer, former director of policy for Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan, and professional management consultant.” And a guy who, as Burt Reynolds once observed about Wayne Gretsky, “looks like Bambi.”)

A man who has been volunteering for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's re-election campaign has been charged with assault, mischief, and theft, after an alleged altercation at the mayor's campaign office in Scarborough. (CBC News.)

*  “Rob Ford subpoenaed to testify in extortion case … Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been ordered to testify at his friend’s ‘crack video’ extortion hearing in a case his lawyer said Friday was driven by police, not because the two alleged victims complained.” (Who knows? This case could even wind up making Rob Ford look good, somehow, as he stands by his friend, Alessandro Lisi? Stranger things have happened, etc. So don’t break out any champagne just yet. There are still quite a few weeks until October 27.  And a week in politics ..etc.)

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