A mayor’s election to censure everyone who ever voted J. Tory

TORONTO –  That may sound harsh. It is probably too complementary. With all due respect to the process and the individuals (54? and counting) offering to replace the retired, “self-disgraced” former mayor, and win the confidence of the public is never easy. Especially in an election with geographic boundaries overlapping twenty-five federal/provincial boundaries – without the galvanizing factors of Party, Leader, and Finances. 

At some point, despite his numerous political missteps in the federal and provincial arena, John Tory had all three advantages in his quiver: money, organization and consensus around his leadership. Those who aspire to replace him may have to resort to attention-grabbing gambits; click bait, in social media parlance.

The “issues” they are stoking paint a less than flattering picture of the city in which I was raised and educated and still call home. Despite its many warts, in my lifetime, the city was an important Port, manufacturing, distribution and an emerging financial services centre. A former colleague and friend from Thunder Bay, the Hon. Joe Comuzzi (RIP), used to say, “if Toronto didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it”.

In my lifetime, the city has been known as Toronto the Good; a Mecca for enterprise; a laboratory for innovation; a Centre for Learning, a world-class hub for Medical-Scientific Research, and a city that runs like a Swiss watch.

After eight plus years of John Tory as Mayor, this is what some of the more noteworthy candidates have offered as their own plan of action (in no particular order), now that he has gone. They are a reflection of his legacy.

One: The end to expansion, or elimination, of [367 km of on street] bike lanes because, essentially, they block vehicular circulation and back up traffic everywhere. The reliability of public transit has become risible, despite a $2.38 Billion budget in 2022. No experts are willing to cite the litany of solutions offered by TTC drivers.

Two: The chaotic inefficiency of ideologically driven bureaucracies and their impact on infrastructure, businesses, transportation and reputational damage to the City. One candidate has offered to sue Metrolinx for over $1 billion in damages. Guess why? It is taking longer to build the Eglinton LRT than it took the Egyptians to build the Pyramids or the Romans to construct aqueducts and road systems for their respective empires.

Three: Lack of safety and security, on the streets, in homes, shops, and, shockingly, in our schools. The Police Services represent a cost/investment to the ratepayer of $1.16 Billion annually. Some candidates want to “defund the police”.

Four: Housing and “the Homeless” is a theme everyone feels the need to address. This includes the current and former Councillors who have presumably been in a position to effect changes. With all the construction of condominiums, Toronto has a “shortfall” of revenues.

Five: Competition from other municipalities within the Greater GTA and beyond. One barometer is the precipitous decline in enrollment of students in Toronto’s two English language School systems. So where are the vaunted numbers of increased immigration going?

There is a sixth one that no one has touched on yet: the relationship with Premier Ford. In consultation with then mayor Tory, Ford restructured the City’s governance in favour of a Super Mayor model. Tory would have needed to secure the support of only eight (8) out of the twenty-five (25) councillors to effect bylaws and approve projects. Tory left for reasons he chose to make public. They did not include the names of the “magnificent eight”.

Any serious candidate must have a general idea of who they might be and what may bring them onside. It’s clear that Tory had other priorities.

Editor’s note: Some candidates have begun to reach out to the Corriere Canadese for interviews. We will endeavour to accommodate them as much as possible starting this week.