Reviewing Toronto Mayor John Tory’s first flip-flopping year

When the Globe and Mail is scolding a politician for raising taxes, that’s something you notice.

Marcus Gee of The Globe just did that with Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Tory promised throughout the mayoral race that he would keep annual property tax increases at or below the inflation rate.

And sure enough, John Tory is now raising taxes. He shamelessly lied to the Toronto electorate. And he should be exposed as the lying political hack that he is.

But Tory was not finished. He further lied to the Toronto people by trying to spin this tax, not as a tax, but as a “special levy.” What a slimy weasel.

Next, Tory tried to lessen the pain by referring to this annual $13 per household as just the cost of one ticket to the movies. But as Gee notes, that’s not even accurate, either. The $13 amount isn’t just for the first year, but every year. An additional $13 added to the tax bill over five years equals $65, not $13. That is not just one trip the movies, Mr. Tory, you political reprobate.

Recall that Tory promised throughout the campaign that he would be as fiscally prudent as the former mayor Rob Ford, but without the circus. Tory lied about that as well.

Tory has permitted his own mayoral office budget to increase, far in excess of Rob Ford’s own mayoral budget. It’s already approaching David Miller-ian heights of excess and blatant self-aggrandizement.

You recall how sick and tired we were of Miller’s excesses. Well, John Tory is becoming the second coming of David Miller.

And like David Miller before him, John Tory will be ridden out of Toronto on a rail.

Speaking of our transit/rail system, Gee reminds us about Tory’s promise that his so-called “SmartTrack” would not cost the taxpayer one red cent. He said his multi-billion dollar above rail system would be funded, not by the taxpayers, but by the magic of tax increment financing. Or, as we Tory critics called it, “voodoo financing.”

As we predicted, tax increment financing is a sham. So Tory is forced to finally come clean and approach real taxpayers for real taxpayers money to pay for his transit follies.

Let’s look at another broken promise:

During the first mayoral debate against Rob Ford and Olivia Chow, Tory railed against Chow for suggesting that it was more prudent to retain public sector union garbage pickup east of Yonge Street.

Tory argued persuasively that private sector garbage pick up on the west side of the city had produced annual savings of $11 million, for a total savings in four years of $44 million. He vowed that if elected, he would usher in this more efficient and cheaper private sector garbage pick up in east Toronto as well.

Well, a whole year has passed. And as some of us predicted, the spineless Tory has caved to leftist pro-union interests on city council and in the civil service. Toronto’s east end is still stuck with the more costly and less efficient public sector garbage pickup system.

And who can forget Tory’s characteristic political stupidity and tone-deafness this first year?

Both the left and right on city council were staunchly opposed to Toronto wasting millions of dollars in a ridiculous Olympic bid, and most Toronto voters agreed. Yet Tory doggedly came up with a plan, one predominantly funded by the private sector.

And once again, Tory flipped and flopped. Dithered. Procrastinated. Failed to show clear-headed leadership.
Until he was forced to admit defeat, weeks after most citizens had moved on from this ridiculous debate.

Yes, Tory looks good in a Harry Rosen suit. Presumably he can tie his own shoelaces without the help of his myriad of highly paid handlers, consultants, advisers and spin doctors.

Yes, Tory appears to be a decent guy — so decent that other Toronto councilors run roughshod over the spineless mayor.

But John Tory still lacks good political instincts. And a spine. And he’s still is not ready to lead this great city.

City planner Jennifer Keesmaat: Today Toronto, tomorrow the world

(CONTENT WARNING: Satire) High profile Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat suddenly resigned her position yesterday.

According to anonymous and unreliable union sources employed at City Hall, Keesmaat – frustrated by being muzzled by Mayor John Tory during the recent epic debate surrounding the fate of the eastern portion of Gardiner Expressway – decided to throw in the towel, and called it quits at City Hall.

Keesmaat had also publicly gone on Twitter and publicly tweeted her support for her position and tried to shame Tory into changing his position.

“@johntory: tyme2 show some cojones+ #deep6GardEast” – @jen_keesmaat

“@johntory: bikes be4 hiways, bro! Yur hybrid=another DumbTrack” – @jen_keesmaat

It did not help Ms. Keesmaat with the mayor and his supporters on council when in March, at an event hosted by the Urban Land Institute, Keesmaat embarrassed Mayor Tory by publicly correcting Mayor Tory, not once but twice when Tory was called upon to respond to questions about the planner’s budget.

Obviously referring to Toronto’s previous mayor as well, Keesmaat was heard to mutter, “What’s the deal with you old white guys? Why is math so difficult for you guys?”

According to the Globe & Mail, Keesmaat also did not endear herself to certain male councillors repping the Toronto suburbs, when she referred to them, as “insufferable Neanderthal knuckle-dragging troglodytes” for their continued support of the use of the automobile as a means of transport from the suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough to downtown Toronto and throughout the GTA.

To his credit James Pasternak, councilor for North York Ward 10, had previously publicly criticized Keesmaat for her highly impolitic comments when, referring to Keesmaat, he stated, “To take to the air waves and trumpet your own  personal beliefs when you’re serving a city council and serving a mayor, for many around here, that’s going too far.”

To Keesmaat and her loony leftist supporters on City Council, such as Joe Mihevc and Paula Fletcher,  “cars and trucks should neither be seen or heard south of Highway 401”.

If Keesmaat had the power, she would ban cars and trucks from downtown Toronto entirely.

Rumour has it that Keesmaat has been urged to throw her hat in the political ring and challenge Mayor Tory in 2018.

Maggie Atwood, political activist and sometime author recently took to Twitter.

“@jen_keesmaat: We got yur back. #BuryGardiner+Toryin2018” – @MargaretAtwood

As Keesmaat was leaving City Hall, she sounded almost Churchillian as she issued these parting words to her cheering supporters and the press:

“We may have lost this battle against cars, but we have not lost the war against cars.

“As for you gas-guzzling and carbon-emitting suburbanites, we shall fight you on the Lakeshore. We shall fight you in the Beaches. Er, Beach. Whatever.

“We shall fight you in the hills (Forest Hill) and the valleys (Rosedale.)

“We shall never allow this island of old and new wealth and white privilege to be befouled by you and your kind and your mobile instruments of death and destruction.”

It looks like we have not heard the last of the unsinkable and unstoppable Jennifer Keesmaat.

Toronto Globe’s Antipathy Towards the Fords Has Tainted Its Coverage of Olivia Chow, John Tory

I have been reading the Toronto Globe and Mail, religiously, for over 40 years.

At one time, the Globe was considered very highly as Canada’s national paper, “The New York Times (NYT) of the North”.

Note this was during the golden newspaper years of “The Pentagon Papers” and “Watergate” when the Washington Post and NYT were the “go to” media for objective, unbiased reporting and analytical and critical commentary.And the Globe was not far behind.

But today, the Globe- a mere shadow of its former glory.

I must confess. I still enjoy reading some Globe’s columnists. Liz Renzetti’s Saturday column is always sharp and funny. Ian Brown still writes beautifully.

Margaret Wente still impresses me with her courageous anti-liberal writing. And Liam Lacey’s film reviews are consistently bang on.

I also miss the excellent political reporting of Karen Howlett, former Queen’s Park senior reporter, who was always tough, but fair and never pulled any punches- with any politician regardless of political or ideological background.

But the same cannot be said for the current crop of Globe urban reporters and columnists- especially those involved with the almost year long Toronto mayoral election.

Globe’s professionalism

Okay. I get it. The Globe and its staff were so turned off by the personal problems of Mayor Rob Ford ( the crack smoking, the alcoholism, the inappropriate language while inebriated) that it parked its journalistic integrity at the door, when it came to reporting on Rob Ford.

I do not agree with this position. It reflects badly on the Globe’s professionalism.

But what I further do not understand is why has the Globe failed to hold to account the other candidates- Olivia Chow and John Tory.

From practically the moment Chow entered the race in March, 2014, her campaign was in trouble.

Although Chow had name recognition and was known as popular Jack Layton’s spouse, Chow also carried a ton of political baggage. She was feared as an extreme “tax and spend” lefty, way to the left of David Miller and closer to the scary John Sewell.

Many Toronto voters had never forgiven her for living in a subsidized three bedroom co-op unit while her family income exceeded $120, 000. Chow also had a negative reputation for having one of the highest office and personal expense budgets of all Ontario federal politicians.

Right out of the box, she insulted and alienated a majority of the Toronto voters in the vote-rich suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough with her proposal to terminate the very popular and fully funded Scarborough subway for a third-rate bus and LRT solution.

Her first debate was a disaster. She was clearly defeated by Rob Ford. Chow came across in that debate as inarticulate, uninformed, confused and unintelligent.

I believe that Chow never recovered from that disastrous performance and her campaign went downhill from there.

But as to the Globe reporters, they ignored all of Chow’s negative baggage and they ignored her poor debating style,  her uninspiring speeches and her unpopular policies.

Instead, it appeared the Globe reporters and analysts tried to prop up Chow for months with biased and uncritical “puff” pieces as indicated herein. (Here, Here, and Here)

It took the Globe about 7 months (September, 2014) to publicly admit that Chow’s election was in serious trouble.

But consistent with its anti-Ford bias, the Globe then turned to propping up and implicitly promoting John Tory, by once again failing to do its journalistic job and critically holding Tory to account.

For example, the Globe failed to take Tory to task for his classless personal attack on Doug Ford on the very day Doug announced that his brother Rob had cancer, was withdrawing and Doug was taking his place in the campaign.

Secondly, the Globe failed to properly call into question the gaps in John Tory’s business career- ie his many years of being on the board of directors of Charter Communications which went into bankruptcy.

The Globe also failed to question how John Tory with very little media experience could be hired as CEO of Rogers Media by family friend, Ted Rogers.

Recall Ted Rogers was first a lawyer at the firm founded by John Tory’s father and uncle, Torys. And then Ted Rogers and Rogers Communications became a major client of the same firm.

In this instance, the Globe failed miserably to ask and answer the musical question, “If John Tory’s last name was “Smith”, would John “Smith” have had any business career?”

The Globe’s crack investigative team also failed to delve into John Tory’s involvement with Rogers’ publicly disastrous “negative option billing scheme, during Tory’s time at Rogers Media.

In a Toronto Region Board of Trade debate, Tory had the chutzpah to deny that he was at Rogers when negative option billing was introduced.

In fact, I recall Tory was hired in 1995, one month after this negative option billing policy was introduced at Rogers Cable. And I remember distinctly that John Tory was given the task of managing consumer opposition to this Rogers’ policy, where consumers were additionally billed for services to which they had not consented.

Instead of critically analyzing Tory’s business career, the Globe instead hit a new journalistic low with its recent so-called expose of Doug Ford’s business experience at his family firm, Deco Labels.

Crack investigative journalist Robyn Doolittle, ( remember her from the Rob Ford crack video expose) thought she made a journalistic scoop by revealing that Doug Ford’s attempt to set up New Jersey branch met with failure.

Conversely, she proved that Doug Ford was a superior businessman to Tory, because Doolittle’s article instead revealed that Doug Ford single-handedly turned a non-existent Chicago office into a successful operation, purely as a result of his own efforts.

Ironically, other large Canadian companies, unlike Deco Labels-Chicago- failed to succeed in the United States ( ie Royal Bank, Canadian Tire and Peoples Credit Jewelers, to name a few). So the fact that Deco Labels- New Jersey failed, does not detract from Doug Ford’s success in the tough American market.
In sum, how the mighty Globe has fallen.

The Globe’s failure to hold Fords’ opponents to account during this mayoral election has called into question its journalistic integrity and objectivity.

Time will tell whether the Globe will ever recapture its journalistic reputation.

Mayoral Candidate Olivia Chow’s Disturbing Support for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid

In a recent Toronto mayoral debate,  leading mayoral candidate John Tory reopened the debate about whether the controversial Toronto group, known as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) should be permitted to march in the very popular annual summer Toronto Pride Parade.

Mr. Tory, to his credit, argued that QuAIA, which promotes a virulent message, should not be permitted to participate in a Pride Parade that is publicly funded by Toronto taxpayers.Mr. Tory also argued that if he was elected Mayor, he would deny public funding to the Pride organization, if the Pride group permitted QuAIA to march in its annual parade.

On the other hand, Ms. Chow in the same debate,  supported QuAIA’s right to protest in a publicly-funded Pride Parade, on the basis that the Toronto City solicitor opined that the use of “Israel Apartheid” was “protected speech” and that the Toronto City Manager Penachetti believed that the participation of QuAIA, did not violate the City of Toronto’s policies against hate and discrimination.

Again, to Tory’s credit, he stated emphatically at the debate, that he believed the city’s position was wrong and such anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish views had no place in a Pride Parade which celebrates human rights, tolerance and inclusivity.

I agree with John Tory’s view and here is why I believe Chow’s support of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic QuAIA, is unprincipled, immoral and contrary to Canadian values.

Anti-Israeli Apartheid movement is funded, financed and sponsored by Hamas

The anti-Israeli Apartheid movement is funded, financed and sponsored by Hamas.

According to Hamas’ constitution,  it wishes to kill all Jews and to eliminate Israel from the Middle East. These views are clearly anti-Semitic and hateful.

For Hamas, the anti-Israeli Apartheid movement is an attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel and destroy it diplomatically. Hamas wants to do to Israel diplomatically, what it cannot do, to date, militarily.

Accordingly, the then Federal Liberal leader Ignatieff, labelled the anti-Israeli Apartheid movement as anti-Semitic.

This view has been endorsed by current Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. I also believe that this is the view of Thomas Mulcair,  leader of the federal NDP.

Conservative Prime Minister Harper’s public condemnation of the anti-Israel Apartheid and BDS movements as blatantly anti-Semitic, is also very well known and has been widely reported.

Furthermore, the Ontario Legislature has unanimously condemned Israeli Apartheid week as “odious and unacceptable”.

So we have two levels of government that have condemned the Israeli Apartheid movement.

In the subject debate, Chow argued that her pro-QuAIA position was based upon her reliance upon expert opinion.

Interestingly, Chow is a bit selective when she relies upon experts. The very same City Manager Pennachetti in the past issued a major report praising the Scarborough subway extension, which Chow chose to ignore, because such a report undermined her pro Scarborough bus and LRT view.

It seems once again, Chow is hiding behind selective experts’ opinions and is refusing to take a principled and moral stand.

The Canadian federal government (together with US, Britain and the EU) has also publicly maintained that the anti-Israeli Apartheid movement, which singles out Israel ( while ignoring the human rights abuses of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Iran etc) is more than mere opposition to Israeli government policies, but is in fact Jew hatred and hence anti-Semitism.

This is a view also held by a majority of the members of the Ontario legislature.

In view of these facts, Chow appears on shaky moral ground to support QuAIA’s right to march in a publicly-funded parade.

John Tory stated that he respected the right of QuAIA to protest , but it can protest anywhere it wants, just not in a Toronto taxpayer and publicly-funded Pride Parade.

Another point Chow should consider is that Hamas, the key backer and beneficiary of the anti-Israeli Apartheid movement – kills, tortures and discriminates against the Gazan LGBT ( lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) community.

Contrast that with the fair and equal treatment of the LGBT community in Israel.

So why is Chow putting herself on the same side of Hamas, which kills, tortures and discriminates against the Gazan LGBT community?

Since the Pride Parade is about tolerance, the celebration of the LGBT community and inclusivity, why does Chow not take the position that the anti-Israeli QuAIA ( which many Jewish and non Jewish Torontonians believe to be a hateful, Jew-hating, anti-Semitic organization) has no place in the Pride Parade?

By Chow failing to take a clear and principled stand against the anti-Semitism of QuAIA, Olivia Chow risks being tarred with the same toxic brush.

Does John Tory Have the Right Stuff To Face Off Against Olivia Chow?

As expected, a recent Forum Research poll has Olivia Chow leading as initial front runner with 36 per cent.

Mayor Ford is second with 28 per cent, his support still holding strong.

The big surprise is the third place finish of John Tory, at 22 per cent. In a previous hypothetical match up between Chow, Ford and Tory, Forum Research had Tory at 27 per cent in a February poll.

I propose to offer some hard-nosed political advice as to how Tory can kick start his faltering campaign.

But first, a brief explanation as to why Tory finds himself in third place.

Lorne Bozinoff, President of Forum Research, interpreting the most recent poll results above, concluded:

“These findings represent relative stability for Ford since the company polled him at 31 per cent in February, “while John Tory, who had just entered the race the last time we polled, has seen his vote decline from 27 per cent.”

Marcus Gee of The Globe and Mail attributed Tory’s weak numbers to the fact “Ms. Chow is a strong candidate with an appealing personal story and she is off to a fast start. She can count on the city’s well-organized left.”

As to Ford’s support, Gee concluded, “Mr. Ford has a core of supporters that seems to stick with him whatever he does. Mr. Tory has no such natural base.”

I have already written a series of Huffington Post articles that explain the unwavering support of Ford supporters, who are sticking with Ford, despite all the allegations, videos and Ford’s personal demons.

My conclusion is that Ford’s support is rock solid. But support for Chow, the new politico on the block, is much softer.

And if John Tory wants to grow his numbers, he cannot wait for seven months to connect to the voters.

As Tory claimed in his kick off speech at a downtown Toronto rally this past week.

I believe that that Tory has four to eight weeks to make a forceful and compelling impression on Toronto voters.

Marcus Gee suggests that Tory can be successful in this mayoral race by trying to occupy the happy middle between hard right Ford and tax and spend Chow on the left.

Gee stated: “The essence of Mr. Tory’s message is that he would give voters Mr. Ford’s respect for taxpayers without the divisiveness and the sideshow and Ms. Chow’s care for the disadvantaged without the hard left swing and the reversion to “tax-and-spend.” That would position him neatly in the middle as a caring conservative, the candidate who would take Toronto “not left, not right, but forward.”

In other words, John Tory, wants to present himself as a “Red Tory.”

I have four words for Mr. Tory and his illustrious brain trust: “Joe Clark/Alison Redford.”

Red Toryism is dead federally (Joe Clark/Peter McKay), provincially (has Toryalready forgotten his provincial losses in the provincial ridings of Don Valley West and Dufferin/Peel/Wellington/Grey, and the disastrous 2007 provincial campaign as Ontario PC leader?) and even, municipally.

Today, there is no happy middle in Toronto city politics.

There is the right, which is: pro Scarborough subway, pro Porter Air, pro Porter Air expansion, pro taming unions, pro garbage privatization, pro privatization, pro minimum increase in taxes, anti-government expansion and pro business/private sector.

And the left which is: pro Scarborough LRT, anti-Porter Air, anti-Porter Air expansion, anti-privatization, pro unions, pro larger increase in taxes, pro government expansion and cool to business/private sector.

If Tory thinks that he can straddle these two political poles, and pick some issues from Column A and other issues from Column B, then I guarantee that Tory will alienate Toronto voters from both the right and the left.

And he will achieve a record-breaking sixth political loss.

Alternatively, I suggest that Tory has to come out now — hard, fast and negative against Olivia Chow. He needs to “Harperize” Chow and define her in the public eye, before she defines herself. In order to wrest Chow’s soft supporters, who really do not know the real Olivia Chow, from the Chow camp.

Because Olivia Chow does not come to this city race, without some major political baggage.

Frankly, I am surprised that Nick Kouvalis, Tory’s own answer to Chow’s political attack dog, Warren Kinsella, has not done a better job in the media and the social media of raising serious questions of Chow’s subsidized co-op housing arrangement in the 1980s at the Hazelburn Co-op Apartments.

Chow, in an interview on Sun TV, with her own advisor, the above-mentioned Kinsella, once again stated that she did nothing wrong because she paid “market rent” of $800 for a three-bedroom apartment from 1988-1990.

The Tory campaign should also question whether Chow’s anti-Scarborough subway, pro Scarborough LRT position, is in reality, just Chow pandering to her downtownToronto SWAG/ leftist elitist base.

Chow has many weaknesses.

The question for John Tory is does he have the toughness and cojones to attack and fight Chow and take support away from her, in order to be the next mayor of Toronto?