The Tory Story

It has come to my attention from a couple trusted sources that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been irrationally hostile to the whole concept of John Tory for Mayor. irrationalSo blind I am to the possibility that a Tory mayoralty wouldn’t be all that bad that my pushback is too over the top, aggressive, emphatic and resolute in rejecting the positives. Missing the forest for the trees, and all that. Come on. Really? Mayor Doug Ford?

It’s a fair accusation to make. In style and appearance, in putting our best face forward, yes, John Tory is no Rob or Doug Ford. After 4 years of regular embarrassment and some 1500 days or so of What The Fuckiness?, electing John Tory would announce for all that world to see that Toronto is once more back to taking itself seriously. The man walks upright. He speaks as if he might actually be thinking about what he’s saying. His suit fits.

I even over-stepped the other day, demanding someone name a significant policy difference between John Tory’s platform and that of his rival, Doug Ford. There is one very noteworthy distinction in terms of policy between the two men. The Land Transfer Tax. Ford thinks it can be gradually done away with, no problem. deepbreath1Never mind the $300 million annual revenue it brings in. Done and done.

Full marks to John Tory. This week he stood before a very anti-LTT, real estate crowd and told them he wasn’t going to tell them what they wanted to hear. The city needs the revenue from the LTT. The LTT has not hindered home sales. The LTT would remain in place if John Tory was elected mayor.

But after that? In all honesty? I strain to come up with much daylight at all between John Tory and Doug Ford when it comes to stuff of substance. (And enlighten me, fill up the comments section of where I’m wrong in this.) John Tory does better copy than Doug Ford. He sounds better telling us he cares about things. Tory’s made a lifetime of personal dedication in the private sector to a multitude of causes throughout the city. His awards and accolades have been earned not purchased.

This isn’t, however, about merit badges for volunteer service. texaschainsawmassacreThis is about politics and policy, about ideas to enhance the lives of every resident in this city, about delivering opportunity to everyone regardless of where they live or work. This is about standing up and giving an honest assessment about where the city is now and how it needs to proceed forward.

As a candidate, John Tory has failed miserably on that account.

Like Doug Ford, John Tory sees Toronto having a spending problem not a revenue problem. Despite advice to the contrary from the city CEO, Joe Pennachetti, or counter-evidence from municipal governance experts like Enid Slack, Tory insists we just need to tighten our belts, root out all those ‘inefficiencies’ at City Hall and we’ll have all the money we need. Tory is on record saying “low tax increases, at or below inflation, impose spending discipline on governments.”makeitupasyougoalon

Actually, low property tax increases, at or below the rate of inflation, impose service and programs cuts or hikes in user fees. At best, they ensure no expansion of those service or programs. It’s a self-induced zero sum game where we have to unnecessarily choose between our priorities. A game we’ve been playing for the last 4 years during the Ford administration.

John Tory is offering nothing different.

His SmartTrack transit plan is only slightly less implausible than the Subways! Subways! Subways! mantra of the Fords, and that’s a mighty low bar to clear. SmartTrack is full of questionable construction details and a financing gimmick that is untested anywhere in the world at the level he’s pitching. His assurances that he will get it done by sheer force of will are as empty and meaningless as the Fords’ guarantee about building subways.handthekeyback

The endorsements now flooding in for John Tory from most of our mainstream newspapers and media want us to believe that we’d be voting for CivicAction John Tory, John Tory the magnanimous private sector benefactor. There’s little mention of Tory’s political track record. Not so much his career as a Progressive Conservative operative and elected official, but his time spent as a well-placed backroom figure in the post-amalgamated Toronto Mel Lastman administration.

Ahhh, Mel Lastman. Only slightly less eye-rollingly embarrassing in light of Rob Ford. Still. Who the hell’s the WHO? African cannibals. MFP. The Sheppard subway. 1st term guaranteed property tax freeze, and here we are. John Tory was close to all of that. In 2003, he wanted us to ignore that. We didn’t. In 2014, we seem ready to let by-gones be by-gones.

What’s changed? Rob and Doug Ford, you’ll tell us. Rob and Doug Ford.

If the endorsements are any indication, what we want as a city is just a little bit of peace and quiet, a break from all the rancour and partisan divide that’s ground the city to a halt over the past 4 years. The only candidate who can do that, it seems, is John Tory, our great white establishment hope. sternheadmasterToronto needs a nice big fatherly hug. We need some civic soothing.

Frankly, that’s like applying make up to cover the bruising we’ve taken from the Ford administration – an administration John Tory supported until it became untenable to do so. Let’s all pretend like it didn’t happen, like Rob and Doug Ford were mere anomalies, sprung out of nowhere for no reason whatsoever. That they didn’t represent actual grievances and political, social isolation that existed well before they cynically tapped into for their own hubristic political gain.

In his article yesterday on what a possible John Tory mayoralty might look like, Edward Keenan suggested that Tory’s ‘laudable charitable work’ could be seen not so much as attempts to change a system that doesn’t include everyone but “helping people network their way into the system.” captainstubingLadies? Take up golf, am I right?

John Tory isn’t a candidate for change. His campaign has been pretty much Steady As She Goes, Only Quieter and Less Scandal-filled. More Captain Stubing than Francesco Schettino. Everything’ll be fine once we get rid of the Fords.

The funny thing is, at the council level races, the push for change is popping up all over the place. There are exciting candidates throughout much of the city. In Ward 2 alone, the Ford petty fiefdom, I estimate 3 strong candidates challenging Rob Ford, one of whom, Andray Domise, is knocking on the door of knocking off the mayor. If that comes to pass, it would be a more significant result than whatever happens in the mayor’s race.

John Tory is yesterday’s man. He represents the values of the old status quo. knowaguyA top down leadership paradigm based almost entirely on who you know, connecting inward not outward.

The John Tory campaign message has little to do with where we want to go as a city. It’s all about re-establishing order. Order under the (fingers crossed!) beneficent gaze of he who knows some people. He’ll make a couple phone calls, get some stuff done. Just keep your voices down, if you don’t mind. It’s been very loud around here for too long.

— cathartically submitted by Cityslikr

10 thoughts on “The Tory Story

  1. Ford wants to cancel the lrt lines planned for Sheppard and Finch…Tory does not. Ford wants to bury the entire Eglinton line…Tory does not. Tory supports MLSE and their plan to renovate BMO field..Ford does not.

    Hey…and what’s so bad about peace love and understanding? At worst a Tory mayoralty will resemble a Norm Kelly deputy-mayoralty.

    • Funny you mention Kelly, who is plotting to kill the Sheppard LRT. Tory was just asked if he would commit to building it, and dodged the question.

      At best his position on the LRTs was “LRTs if necessary, but not necessarily the LRTs…” – he’ll let them get built if that’s the consensus, but don’t look for him to stop anyone else who wants to kill them.

      It’s the cars-first-and-always mentality that underlies Tory’s transit thinking: Oppose Eg Connects, don’t commit to bike lanes, build transit on existing lines etc.

  2. Did you bother to read Tory’s website? Even a cursory reading would identify many policies that explain what kind of Mayor Tory would be. Also, most of these policies distinguish him from the Fordites.

    For example, he proposes multiple policies on arts funding, environment, cycling and housing. All progressive policies.

    Ford? Nothing about the arts, environment, cycling or housing on his website. Nothing.

    As much as I enjoyed reading this blog, I am now losing respect for the basic ability of its writer to perform his due diligence.

    • Dear torontopeter,

      Yes, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are familiar with Mr. Tory’s campaign literature. And yes, he advances many, many policies ideas. Words and words and words of policy ideas. It’s only missing one thing. How exactly will he pay for all these things?

      Here lies the intersection of John Tory and Doug Ford’s politics. Unworkably low property tax increases that will only, at best, keep up with inflation and so only maintain the programs and services we currently have. Tory proposes no new ideas for revenue and like Mr. Ford touts the private sector and other levels of government for additional sources of funds.

      John Tory talks a better progressive game than Doug. But their approach to delivering on promises made is exactly the same.

      • And the city was given additional powers to tax, i.e. the land transfer tax, vehicle registration, etc. Remember property taxes are regressive and are not directly tied with the ability to pay or income.

  3. John Tory is essentially the typical fiscal conservative/ social ‘liberal’, which essentially means he’s not an outspoken racist (like the Fords). Since elected officials support or kill things with funding, the finances are key, not the obligatory public platitudes.
    Typical red Torys might, for example, vote against funding Pride, but still show up because they want your vote.

  4. Tory has the ability to say Yes and No in the same breath while making it sound like Maybe, Maybe not, and giving equal doses of hope and fear.

    He’s a politicians politician.

    Everything is hollow like a brand new big box store with a fancy facade but the windows are still papered over and the shelves inside are empty. He can generate a great deal of anticipation without ever having to deliver when the parent company goes bankrupt and never opens the doors to that new flagship store.

    The very essence of vaporware.

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