The Ghosts of John Tory Haunt Us Still

Call me naïve. Call me simple-minded. Call me Pollyanna Pureheart with Starz in Her Eyez but I got to tell you when I see a headline like this:

Tory bigwig Capobianco joins Rossi camp

my blood runs cold, cold, cold.

Officially, no political party colours hang over our municipal politics but the truth of the matter is that the backrooms are awash in them. So far in the early days of campaign 2K10™®© the walls are running Tory blue. And yes, I do mean that as a political double entendre.

Since John Tory’s announcement that he would take a pass on vying for Toronto’s top job, the money chasers (or bagmen, in the common parlance) and strategists have been scrambling to find a candidate to get their hooks into. Self-proclaimed political neophyte and red Tory Liberal #2, Rocco Rossi, has been the beneficiary of much of this backroom booty. Aside from the above mentioned John Capobianco, Rossi has landed the nods of approval from other cloak-and-dagger, Tory-leaners like John Matheson, Vic Gupta, Rod Phillips and Andy Pringle.

For his part, January frontrunner and red Tory Liberal #1, George Smitherman, has bagged the big buck, Bay Street lawyer and all-round mucky muck, Ralph Lean. Lean is a major league kingmaker and it was his very public break with Mayor David Miller in mid-September last year that appears to have struck the fatal blow to any thought Miller may have had about running for a third term. Reading the National Post article in which Lean ticks off the ways in which Mayor Miller had failed him is a little spooky in the paper’s deference to such a shadowy, unelected figure. The fact that Miller announced that he was not running for re-election a mere 10 days after the article was published has to be seen as something more than a mere coincidence and suggests that Lean swings some mighty big pipe.

What Lean, Capobianco and all these other guys (and yes, the majority of these high placed operatives are indeed men) have in common is that they bleed deep Conservative blue and/or were well connected into the insanely dysfunctional Mel Lastman regime. Some also pulled the strings behind the scenes of the Common Sense Revolution of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. All of which should make Torontonians more than a little nervous as these administrations contributed mightily to bringing the city to its knees.

So when the likes of George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi start waxing on about fiscal housekeeping, selling off Toronto’s assets, privatizing public services and all the other neo-liberal drivel that’s been passed off as “common sense”, know that the words they speak are not their own. It is the voice of the men behind the curtain. Men who, as recent history has shown us, do not have the best interests of the people of Toronto at heart.

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