John Tory Doesn’t Want To Be Mayor. Really.

June 23, 2010

With two or three campaigns under his belt, it now seems that John Tory has started to get the hang of all this political…stuff. Pronounce yourself uninterested in any further office seeking, grab a high profile gig that underlines your commitment to public service and talk politics five days a week on your very own AM radio show. Toss in a regular guest debate moderator spot for the handful of actual declared mayoral candidates anyone’s paying a lick of attention to and, presto magico, Tory’s getting all the publicity he needs to not run for mayor until he absolutely has to.

Because let’s face it, the campaign trail has not been an easy road to hoe for John Tory in the past. A multitude of reasons have been bandied about over why that is but the inescapable fact of the matter is he simply cannot light a big enough fire under a critical mass of the voting public to make a very serious go of it. And this very same electorate who won’t give him the time of day when Tory’s actually in a race loves him to pieces when he’s not running for office.

Tory’s finally figured out that dynamic and is now playing coy while maintaining an extremely high profile for someone who supposedly retired to private life after his last thrashing at the polls. The truly odd part of the story is that he’s being allowed to carry out this plan of attack in broad daylight without anyone saying so much as, hello, what’s all this then? If I were one of the leading six candidates who were forced to hash things out in public two, three, four times a week for all those interested to see and judge, I think Monday morning’s Urban Land Institute debate at the Toronto Board of Trade which Tory moderated would be the last one I’d be participating in with him still uncommitted, standing right up there beside me, looking all regal and non-partisan, able to merely ask questions and answer none. Of course he’s the more appealing mayoral prospect. He’s doing the scrutinizing not the one being scrutinized.

And what about the other 24 or so registered candidates for mayor? They can’t buy their way up on stage with the front runners while Tory simply strolls out onto the dais without even having to lay his $200 down. Hasn’t he had more than his fair share of kicks at the can? Step aside, Mr. Tory. You’ve already had your turn. It’s time to let the others play. It’s difficult watching this unfold and not have the notion of ‘entitlement’ enter your mind.

I know, I know. The man isn’t running for anything. He’s told us as much. On a fairly regular basis. Yet he is not shy about sharing the spotlight with the others who have made their intentions clear, remaining squeaky clean in the process while they get filthier and filthier, wallowing around in the muck and goo that comes with a 10 month campaign battle. Then, Richard the Third-like, it’s all “Oh, alright then. If you insist…” to the growing entreaties for him to get into the race.

If John Tory truly is not planning to run for mayor again this time around, instead of using his considerable position and societal weight to increase his own profile, he should be pushing for a widening of choices and for more inclusion of those “other” viable candidates whose voices have been ignored so far.  That’s what someone who was really concerned for the future of his city would do. Is that the kind of citizen John Tory is? I guess we’ll find out come September 10th at around 2pm or so.

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