Will it really end just deja vu all over again for John Tory (and curtains for civilization in Toronto) ??

Oct 8th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

“John Tory thinks women can break the glass ceiling by learning to play golf.”

We’ve just gone through a major computer renovation at head office here. And even between the cracks we’ve been getting queries on the results of the travelling conference from which most of us have just returned.

The work of reporting on all this has been assigned to X. He says it is challenging, because much is in the air, but he will be done soon, probably. (And then there’s getting the dread pictures organized — “more tea, more photographs,” as in the Stephen Leacock story.)

Meanwhile, the latest big political news that has just stunned us on our return to the Six is “Doug Ford makes gains in Toronto mayor’s race, poll suggests … Ford pulls even with Tory, Chow’s support remains flat, according to Forum Research poll.”

Toronto Councillor Doug Ford and John Tory in the rain at the start of the 9th annual CIMA Mayor's Cricket Trophy Tournament at Sunnybrook Park in Toronto on June 22, 2013. (Michael Peake/Toronto Sun).

More exactly, “The Forum Research poll … pegs Ford’s support at 37%, with Tory support at 39%. Olivia Chow remains in third with 22% … The poll, conducted Monday afternoon and evening [ie October 6] using an interactive telephone survey, was based on a random sample of 1,218 voters and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20. At this sample size, the results essentially show Tory and Ford in a statistical tie.”

Various authorities, including such disparate methodologists as Éric Grenier and Matthew Coutts, have advanced excellent reasons for being sceptical about this particular poll. Most dramatically, perhaps : “The results are in stark contrast to a Forum poll conducted on Sept. 29 [ie just a week before] that showed Tory with 43% support and a 10-point lead over Ford at 33%,  with Chow polling at 20%.”

Yet another side of Rob Ford’s big brother.

But just the prospect that the apparent big gap between the September 29 and October 6 Forum Research results actually may be measuring something is bound to alarm many among us. What happened over the week between these dates, you could say, is just that John Tory lost support and both Olivia Chow and, to a greater extent, Doug Ford gained support — and not all that dramatically. Yet if this same kind of movement is borne out and even grows in future polls, we the people of Toronto (or at least the majority of us, who are not actual Ford Nation members) could be in a lot of trouble.

* * * *

Other brothers show the precedent!

If you really like worrying about such things, some plausible enough non-statistical reasons might also be cited for new currents of softening support for John Tory, in the October 27 Toronto mayoral race.

To start with, there is the of course hard-to-deal-with but undeniably potent clarification of brother and current Mayor Rob Ford’s very serious medical issues, that surfaced towards the later part of the week between September 29 and October 6.

There is also something else, hinted at in the recent CBC News website report, “Doug Ford: ‘I’m the defence attorney for the people’.”

Ever since we arrived back in town on October 2, it’s seemed that John Tory has been endorsed by successive waves of eminent community leaders of one sort or another — politicians, cultural or ethnic group activists, and so forth. And you start to wonder. Just how much good is this really doing his campaign? It’s making him seem like a Man of the Elites. Meanwhile Doug Ford gets to sharpen his adaptation of his brother’s fraudulent but successful pose as a Man of the People. And who is finally going to win even an election in Toronto?

Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, who was mocked for saying he wouldn't be able to recognize celebrated Canadian author Margaret Atwood, finally met the writer in September 2011. Courtesy Michael Thompson.

Or, a person might foolishly speculate, sometimes Mr. Tory can’t quite suppress his traditional status and breeding as an unmistakable son of the Very Old Toronto Establishment / Family Compact and All That. (Another earlier John A. Tory welcomed Winston Churchill, eg, when he came to speak in Toronto in his youthful manhood, after the Boer War.)

This side of Mr. Tory is probably not the best side to be presenting in the current (or any other?) election campaign. And this may even have something to do with his past tendency to wither somewhat as a campaign progresses. More practically, the main worry right now is that JohnTory’s campaign has become too elitist — and that Doug Ford is starting to exploit this with some success.

Doug and unknown fan — a man of the people who gets around?

Is there a fresh opening for Olivia Chow here? Say as some alternative Hong Kong Dragon Lady of the People, who loved Jack Layton, and still loves Canada, etc. Alas, probably not. It’s probably too late and she has probably sunk too low in the polls, even if she is moving up, a little. (And even if I do still see myself as an Olivia Chow progressive voter.)

If John Tory really does have a populist streak (and the faith that he has is at the core of the progressive conservative case for his candidacy) it’s time for him to bring it out and put it in the window. If he’s going to be Mayor of Toronto he has to win the most votes from the people — not the most endorsements from politicians and community leaders!

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