John Tory: Somewhere in the middle between Olivia Chow and Rob Ford
John Tory just decided the outcome of Toronto’s next mayoral election on Oct. 27.
And the winner is …
Probably. Unless she goes out of her way to blow it. (Which is, of course, entirely conceivable. Seven or eight months is an awfully long time to keep one’s natural proclivities penned up. Just ask Rob Ford.)
That doesn’t mean Chow deserves to be the next mayor of Toronto. Chow in the mayor’s chair is just the logical outcome of John Tory’s announced decision to seek the job.
If you want to get into oversimplifications like “Left” and “Right,” John Tory’s
(pending) official entry into the race hopelessly divides and fragments the vote on the right, while the left remains more or less solidly aligned behind Chow’s candidacy.
That leaves the swampy middle as the battleground for the votes necessary to push a candidate to the top. And we all know what happens to ambitions and dreams for glory in a swamp: They sink and drown.
As Rob Ford, John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Soknacki try desperately to crawl over each other to get out of the mire on the right, Chow is going to be paddling all alone in her serene little skiff, the S.S. Left-Wing Mayor.
Now I’ve mentioned Stintz and Socks as legitimate contenders on the right, but that was more a casual courtesy than anything. Neither of them has a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected mayor and neither, frankly, deserves the job. And hopefully John Tory’s announcement has driven the final spike in whatever lingering, Dracula-like aspirations Denzil Minnan-Wong holds for the mayoralty. And where did Norm Gardner come from? The Twilight Zone?
(Stintz is a shrill, self-serving flip-flopper who has done a lousy job as head of the TTC and is almost as bad as Rob Ford when it comes to building consensus on council. And if the health of Toronto’s body politic was so important to Soknacki — David Miller’s finance henchman/enabler — then why was he so conspicuously absent from the process for
four seven years? Besides, Socks has the charisma of a clam.
(As for Minnan-Wong, the guy’s just plain creepy. He was my councillor for the better part of a decade so I had a good look at him. If I wouldn’t vote for him as ward-heeler, why on earth would I consider him fit to be mayor?
(And how old is that guy, anyway? Denzil Minnan-Wong never mentions his age — anywhere — although his Wikipedia entry lists him as probably 49 or 50. I used to think he hid his age because he was so young, appointed to a supposedly elective position when he was 12 or something like that … I’m kidding, of course — he was at least 13 when he was hoisted up onto the booster seat in Barry Burton’s old North York Council chair in 1994. But lately I’m starting to think Denzil’s been hiding his age for the opposite reason — because he’s, you know, actually ageless and immortal in an “I-vant-to-suck-your-blood” sort of way. I may be wrong on that, but if Denzil is foolish enough to run for mayor, he’d better have his birth certificate handy when he makes the announcement.)
But back to the real candidates …
Stintz and Socks and the other bobble-heads are just distractions from the main contenders on the right — Rob Ford and John Tory.
Ford, we all know about. He is what he is — a huffing, puffing (as in crack-puffing) Little Engine That Could. By sheer, antediluvian, crocodilian will power, Robbie Boy and the rest of the Ford Compact have hauled their anti-Gravy Train to the top of the mountain (which was Ford’s first year in office as mayor) and are now roaring at full speed — out of control and apparently enjoying the ride — down the other side of the mountain.
Where the ride ends is anyone’s guess. Until John Tory entered the race, Robbie’s ride could have ended up back in the mayor’s office. (Still might, in fact. It’s a long shot now but stranger things have happened. And, like I said, Oct. 27 is a loooong way away.)
Robbie’s diehard fans, Ford Nation, will stick with him to the bitter end, but every new late-night booze-up and acting-out episode loses Robbie a few more of those all-important mushy-middle-right votes that could conceivably have gone Robbie’s way in a head-to-head with Olivia Chow.
Tory’s entry takes away most, if not all, of those hold-your-nose-and-vote-against-the-socialist votes. Now those votes have a place to park. Tory will even pull away a few votes from the disenchanted fringes of Ford Nation.
But win? Can John Tory win?
Don’t bet on it. John Tory’s a loser. He’s never actually won anything in his life. I think his natural predisposition is to lose, which is why he keeps running — or allowing himself to be pushed into running — for office. He needs to run in order to lose. Dr. Nosey Parker says it’s a deep-seated, neurotic, visceral drive not unlike that which leads Rob Ford to repeatedly, obsessively, intentionally run off the rails of good behaviour.
Don’t get me wrong: John Tory had to run. As far as the movers and shakers of Toronto were concerned, somebody on the right with a fighting chance had to run against the unmanageable buffoon that is Ford and the slippery socialist that is Chow.
But win? Last summer I wrote an entire Nosey Parker blog post about the many reasons why John Tory shouldn’t run for mayor of Toronto — but probably would. It references another piece I wrote back in 2010 when Tory announced he wasn’t running for mayor that year, the year he might have actually won something.
Here’s a link to it if you want to get second-degree acid burns from wading through the bile.
As a sampler, here are a few (quite a few, actually) representative paragraphs from those pieces, first from 2010:
“John Tory is a really nice guy (I can tell you that from personal experience) with a razor-sharp intellect and great skills as a committee member, a facilitator and a mediator.
“But he’s a complete loser as a frontline street brawler and he has the political survival instincts of a rabbit.
“Before his announcement Thursday that he would not run for mayor of Toronto in this fall’s municipal election (NOTE: This is all back in 2010, remember), Tory was hailed as the clear frontrunner and the man the beat.
“Baloney. Pure and utter crapdoodle.
“Tory would have lost the the 2010 mayor’s race — just as he lost the 2003 mayor’s race to David Miller; just as he lost the 2007 Ontario election to Dalton McGuinty’s woeful Liberals; just as he lost his own riding in that 2007 election (an almost unheard-of feat for a major party leader); just as he lost a subsequent byelection bid in a supposedly safe riding while desperately trying to get into the provincial Legislature; and just as he lost the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in 2009 – supposedly a hari-kiri act of his own choosing, but with a lot of other “friendly” hands helping him hold the gutting blade. Oh, did I mention that John Tory was also campaign manager for the disastrous Kim Campbell 1993 federal election bid that ultimately resulted in the demolition of the national Progressive Conservative Party of Canada?
“And just exactly where is this ‘gaping hole on the right’ on the political spectrum created by the elimination of Tory from the scene? There is none. Tory was never a right-winger. He was always a born centrist, an appeaser, a builder of coalitions and nebulous, wishy-washy ‘common ground’ agendas that everyone from Genghis Khan to Mahatma Gandhi could subscribe to without missing a beat…
“The only supposedly really ‘right-wing’ thing that John Tory ever did was, as provincial PC leader, to propose public funding for private faith-based schools in Ontario. And that was a totally cynical, calculated political act designed to win enough votes for a slim provincial majority from religious fundamentalists (of all stripes) and non-urban conservative voters. And of course it backfired, because Tory never did have a good instinctive read on the people of Ontario, or the people of Toronto for that matter.
“Tory has always reminded me of former (briefly, because of his own ineptitude) PM Joe Clark, a political junkie, a nice guy with a good mind, and a complete putz when it came to making the right political decision. Neither of them has the deep, driving gut feeling that they know the ‘right’ thing to do in any given crisis — sometimes even when the ‘right’ thing they know in their guts isn’t the thing they would rationally choose to do based simply on calculation and inclination…
“Tory’s decision (to not run for mayor in 2010) did not ‘open the field up’ — it just reduced the field of losers by one.
“Yesterday I heard John Tory described as ‘charismatic’ and ‘the best mayor Toronto never had.’ He is neither. He might have made a better mayor than David Miller. Maybe not. We’ll never know. But John Tory was never ‘best’ at anything in politics except ‘second best.’ I know that sounds rough and unfair, but politics is rough and unfair. John Tory took his lumps but never had the royal jelly to turn them into political sugar.”
And from the Nosey Parker piece that ran June 28, 2013, forecasting the 2014 mayoralty election:
“There will be, as usual, a couple of dozen candidates on the ballot but only four or five ‘serious’ contenders. If John Tory is one of them, I can guarantee three things: 1. John Tory will be considered a ‘front-runner.’ 2. John Tory will run a calculating, well-financed campaign but will make bone-headed blunders because he doesn’t have the gut instincts to do the ‘right’ thing. 3. John Tory will lose — again…
“What I don’t understand are all those unnamed, unknown power brokers in the centre and on the right who are supposedly urging Tory to don his battered knight’s armour one more time. What are they thinking — or not thinking? Is an entrenched, certified loser the best alternative the centre-right can come up with to take on Rob Ford and Olivia Chow and the other undesirables/uncontrollables who want to fill the mayor’s chair? If that’s the case, heaven help us all.”
I stand by all of that but …
But I also added a codicil of warning to that 2013 piece which bears repeating: I thought George Smitherman was going to win the 2010 mayor’s race hands down (at least in the early stages of the campaign, when I wrote the piece) and I dismissed the eventual winner, Rob Ford, as an also-ran.
So you can dump me in the dustbin of failed prognosticators or ignore my bleatings in the wilderness. At your own risk.
As for me, I look at the field of mayoral candidates presently arrayed before us and say (once again): Heaven help us all.