It is the Scarborough subway, stupid.
For a brief moment, I thought of ending this article, right here and now. Samuel Beckett-style. Simple, elegant, concise, but profound.
Go big, or go home.
Let me expand on my simple thesis.
The most assured, clear and non-gridlocked road to victory in this mayoral election was through the suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.
And the major issue on the minds of these residents, especially the long-suffering, transit-challenged residents of Scarborough- was not homelessness, affordable housing, or subsidized daycare- but simply- subways.
Olivia Chow, self-acclaimed defender of the disadvantaged, the weak and the vulnerable- never got it.
Tory’s platform was not visionary or original. Actually it was derivative. Ford-lite
On Day One of her campaign, when Chow came out opposed to the Scarborough subway and for a third rate bus/LRT system for Scarberians, she insulted and disrespected the hard working families and residents of Scarborough.
As a result, she and her campaign were D.O.A. Chow’s fate was sealed.
On the other hand, at the outset, John Tory started solidly. His main pitch was that with Tory, you get Rob Ford’s popular fiscally prudent policies ( ie low taxes, respect for the taxpayer, reduce government inefficiencies- ie end unionized garbage services in the east end), but without the drama and the circus.
Okay, Tory’s platform was not visionary or original. Actually it was derivative. Ford-lite. Quite Bland.
But as the Toronto Sun Lorrie Goldstein recently opined, recalling the immortal words of Tory’s very successful boss, former Premier Brampton Bill Davis, “ Bland works.”
I would respond to my good friend, Lorrie G., ( channeling former Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen to the hapless Dan Quayle),
“Mr. Tory, I served with Bill Davis. I knew Bill Davis. Bill Davis was a friend of mine. Mr. Tory, you’re no Bill Davis.”
And even if John Tory was the reincarnation of the folksy, charming, funny, circumlocutious Brampton Billy, the 80s Bill Davis would be the wrong person for these times. As Chow, resorting to her radical NDP 80s schtick, (soaking the rich with more taxes on condos/homes and affordable housing for politically connected NDP “needy families”) has shown.
I believe that if John Tory had stayed the course, that is, kept to the Ford agenda, he would not be on the brink of his sixth political defeat.
I must admit that I do admire Mr. Tory. He has a genius for discovering different and creative ways of snatching defeat from the oh so close jaws of victory.
In this election, he did not self-destruct with one fatal blow to the head ( a la public funding of faith-based private schools, say hello to Sharia High).
This time Tory saw his lead bleed away as a result of a series of self-administered cuts to his platform and his character.
Firstly, Tory only paid lip service to the Scarborough subway, which had the overwhelming support of Scarborough residents and their provincial and federal representatives. Instead Tory turned to his attention, as Miller and Smitherman had before him, to a fourth Toronto subway line, a Toronto relief line.
Then Tory focused his transit efforts on his “Smart Track”, which may help downtown Toronto commuters, but significantly ignores the wishes of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke residents, the heart and soul of Toronto, who believe they deserve the same transit benefits that their more affluent and politically connected neighbors enjoy in downtown Toronto.
By failing to fully buy into the transit needs and wishes of Scarborough residents and their suburban neighbors, Tory allowed Rob Ford and then Doug Ford, the opportunity to rightfully claim to speak for the interests of these suburban residents. And the opportunity for Rob, then Doug Ford to hold onto his suburban base.
Secondly, “Mr. Bland/ Mr. Nice Guy” was neither, when on the day Doug Ford announced that Rob Ford was withdrawing as a mayoral candidate due to cancer and he, Doug, was replacing him in the race, John Tory launched into a down and dirty low class blistering attack of Doug Ford. This was a blatant effort to frame Doug as a mean and angry bully who was critical of his fellow councilors and Premier Wynne and would be much much worse than Rob Ford.
To Doug’s credit, in an emotional speech to the press with the Ford family surrounding him, Doug ignored Tory’s inappropriate taunts, and handled the whole matter with class, restraint, genuine emotion and diplomacy.
Here was a case of Tory shooting himself in the foot and framing himself as a below the belt political hack.
On another occasion, Tory tarnished his Mr. Clean character by implying Doug Ford was racist, sexist and homophobic, because Doug Ford inelegantly defended himself by stating that he had Jewish friends.
I would take that answer over the fact John Tory joined an exclusive Toronto golf club that specifically banned Jews as members.
So it is my turn to ask my friendly Toronto Sun editor, Lorrie Goldstein, “What is the story, Mr. Lorrie?”
Thirdly, in a desperate attempt to distinguish himself from Doug Ford, John Tory has seemingly literally and figuratively prostrated himself before Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and her acolytes. In an unseemly attempt to ingratiate himself and seek her support and the support of her Liberal Cabinet Ministers.
What the majority of Toronto voters do not want is that their mayor becoming Premier Wynne’s handmaiden
So that John Tory, aka now John Liberal, can claim that he alone can get along with the powerful Wynne.
Yes, Premier Wynne is head of a majority government. But she is also running a government that is still arrogant, heavily in debt and in deficit. And awash in old and new scandals. “MaRS, we have a problem.” And very unpopular.
Many Toronto voters have fled John Liberal because they oppose his unholy and subservient association with the scandal-ridden Wynne government. Other Toronto voters are turned off Mr. Liberal because they believe that a popularly elected Toronto mayor with a clear mandate from Ontario’s largest city, (the engine of the province), should be treated with respect, regardless of political stripe or ideology.
They don’t appreciate their mayor, or potential mayor, genuflecting to the Sun Goddess Wynne.
What the majority of Toronto voters do not want is that their mayor becoming Premier Wynne’s handmaiden.
For the above reasons, the hapless Mr. Liberal will go down to a crushing but historic sixth defeat at the hands of Doug Ford.