The last hurrah of Tory Toronto .. just before the next new thing?

Oct 26th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

Photography by George Pimentel Photography.

People who don’t live in or even vaguely like Toronto, and are fed up with both Rob and Doug Ford and  the 2014 Toronto mayoral race, may take comfort from the fact that the race has effectively ended even before election day tomorrow, Monday, October 27.

Or as John Wright, senior vice president of the polling firm Ipsos Reid said in an interview this past Friday: “This is not even close. This is over.” At long last John Tory is about to win an important election. Unless all the polls of the past week or so are altogether inside out or worse, neither the Ford Nationalist Doug Ford nor the lovely and once front-running Olivia Chow stand a chance, to say nothing of the 62 other candidates still officially in the race!

We incurable junkies will still be glued to our TVs tomorrow night, with various refreshments to hand. It is still not entirely clear exactly what percentages of the vote each of the three main candidates will win — and how they will stack up against each other in each of the somewhat different six main regions of the larger megacity, recently dubbed The Six by local rapper Drake. And, city-wide, it does seem unlikely that John Tory will do as well as Rob Ford in 2010.

And then there is the old bromide beloved of many lately in barroom brawls about what if Doug Ford does win, etc. Apart from a few comparatively minor wrinkles, a Toronto mayor finally has only as much power as any other member of  City Council — ie, just one of 45 votes. (So that you have to get at least 23 votes to get anything passed by a Council majority.)

It is at least not clear to me just what the political colouring of the new council will look like  by 1 or 2 or 3 AM on the morning of October 28. Left, right, or centre? Well, probably centre, but maybe with some additional nuance? (And then there are elections to four different school boards also in play : the Toronto District School Board ; the Toronto Catholic District School Board ; Conseil scolaire Viamonde ; and Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud.)

One necessarily interesting question here is will our present Mayor Rob Ford, tragically struck by what does seem a very serious case of cancer, nonetheless manage to win his old Council seat for Ward 2/Etobicoke North? Almost all the smart money appears to be saying Yes, of course. Is the Pope Catholic, etc, etc? The Ford Nation will not just suddenly die (and older-brother substitute Doug might even do a little better tomorrow than some think?).

* * * *

It is worth noting that October 27 is also municipal election day across the entire province of Ontario, of which Toronto is capital city. In the province at large Ontarians will be electing approximately 2800 council members and 700 school trustees.

I can only speak seriously in this context to the people of the Town of Whitby, just east of Toronto (after Pickering and Ajax). And what I say is Vote for Don Mitchell as Mayor. He has been endorsed by the Toronto Star, and other wise voices. He has served on the town council, and he’s ready for bigger things.

Thinking about Ontario at large indirectly raises the question of just what kind of mayor of its capital city John Tory is going to be? How good — or bad, etc? I have no even inexact sense of this myself right now. Time will tell.

One thing I do feel clear about is John Tory’s status as a high representative of some deep Toronto past. To take a slight example I once accidentally stumbled across, his grandfather (it must have been?), also known as John Tory, helped introduce Winston Churchill to a joint luncheon meeting of the Empire Club, the Canadian Club, and the Board of Trade in Toronto, in the fateful last happy summer of 1929.

(My fraying ancient notes say see the old Toronto Globe, August 17, 1929, for more on this. One sort-of interesting thing the 1929 incarnation of John Tory said was “perhaps no Empire statesman appealed so strongly to Toronto citizens as Mr. Churchill.”)

I don’t know just where such things might finally lead, of course.  But I think John Tory is in some deep sense a man from the past of the city. What the remarkable Ford Brothers saga of the past four years now seems to show is that we really have reached some great watershed in the life of Toronto, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, etc. There is a new promised land ahead, but we aren’t there yet.

Olivia Chow might have led us to the new promised  land. Or at least started the journey. But maybe her faltering poll numbers, after an initial brilliant blaze, just mean that we the people of Toronto are not yet quite ready to embark on the journey that needs to be taken, or begun at any rate — and sometime soon enough.

John Tory will not be leading anyone into some new promised land. But maybe his ultimate contribution to the Toronto future will be to somehow take the city to a point where it is ready to pack its bags … or at least start looking at travel brochures?

Or, Toronto seems to be approaching a point where its past needs to be reconciled with its future — and (of at least equal importance?) its future needs to be reconciled with its past. Many wise voters, it seems to me, actually do understand all this. In their own subtle ways.

All manner of local establishments appear to have concluded that maybe John Tory is the best person to try to take on this difficult assignment. I hope they are right — even though, like others here who believe Doug Ford really has no chance — I will be voting myself for Olivia Chow. I feel I am already ready to lean forward (as they say on MSNBC in the USA) … onward to the promised land, wherever and whatever your promised land may be.

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