08.06.2010 08:53 AM

“The best mayor Toronto never had”

That’s how I described John Tory to the Star and the Globe. It was a bit of a paradox, I said to Kelly Grant of the Globe (who also owns a beautiful lab named Roxy, but that’s coincidence for another day): “The things that made him so attractive to Toronto voters – his decency and his honesty – are the things that persuaded him not to enter the race: he can’t fake it. He’s a honest guy. He had to have a burning passion for the job to run. You need that burning passion to win.”

And he would’ve won, too. Big time.

So the race is what it is. Rocco Rossi is a good candidate, but unfortunately no one knows who he is; a lot of them think he should have run to be a councillor first. Rob Ford is a joke, and his manifest unsuitability for office is going to be shortly revealed to the city, in forensic detail. George Smitherman has run a low-bridge campaign when he shouldn’t, and he doesn’t have anything resembling a vision; the “Furious George” appellation isn’t unfair, either – it’s a highly factual description of the person he has become.

Sarah Thompson is an impressive and interesting person, but she too should have run for council first. Like Rocco, not enough people know who she is. Joe Pantalone is evidence for the proposition that the Left is entirely sitting this one out – they couldn’t figure out what to do after Adam Giambrone beat a hasty retreat, and now they’ve given up on holding onto the mayoralty. (Adam shouldn’t have bowed out, by the way, but that’s a debate for another day.)

The Summer 2010 re-draft John Tory movement – like the Summer/Fall 2009 draft John Tory movement that preceded it – was partly about John, of course. He would have been the best mayor Toronto has ever had, hands down. But it was also a response to the lack of enthusiasm people have for the candidates now offering themselves for election. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs for Canada’s biggest city, but that’s how it is.

Canadian politics sure is weird, these days: people seemingly have more enthusiasm for who isn’t there, and not who is. I’m open to hearing about your theories as to why that might be.

In the meantime, pop by the SFH/Rockin’ Al/Kill For You gig at the Bovine gig tomorrow night: you might bump into a candidate (and a former candidate) or two. Maybe you can convince them in a way that I couldn’t.


  1. DAVID says:

    ya right Sarah ”if you don’t agree with me your a bigot” Thomson is interesting.well we get the trifecta ,federal provincial and municipal . IT IS A GOOD THING

  2. RG says:

    You’re correct – Adam should not have withdrawn from the race. And he certainly should not have said he will not seek re-election. Although that Rocky-esque home movie he released demonstrated he clearly did not have good counsel. Just reinforced all his weaknesses. Staying in the race would have been a tremendous exercise in growth for him, hardening and polishing him for a future run.

    John Tory is a decent guy. But, that doesn’t mean he’d be a good mayor. He’s already established himself as a poor politician with an ambition which outstrips his talents. Fact is, he crunched the poll numbers, assessed his resources and current organization and made a prudent and understandable choice. One of his few good decisions. He understands he may easily have not won and that this would be the final nail in the coffin of an already unimpressive political career. He’s best to stay out for now, wait for Smitherman to flame out in office, and then re-emerge as the stable, even-tempered, trustworthy grandfather of the city.

    It’s funny – both Smitherman and Tory are chasing boyhood dreams for the Mayor’s office. Without their previous experience at the municipal level, this ambition would likely never have been realized. In many respects, they are the same creature, although I know few would agree.

    Ford was a summer diversion. He’s a Dead Man Walking. We should expect post-Labour Day to bring renewed attention to Rossi (a summer break wasn’t a bad idea for him), as the press try to build some excitement around him and make this a good ole’ fashioned two man fight on the day of the polls. I believe he will be a stronger contender against Smitherman than most assume. But, he needs Ford to bow out for those critical votes. Ford won’t do it, so if Rossi comes up short on election day, let’s see if it’s less or equal to the number of votes Ford captured.

  3. Andrew says:

    People in the downtown core under estimate Rob Ford. Take a walk through suburban neithborhoods and you will see plenty of “Rob Ford for Mayor” bumper stickers. Don’t see any support for the other candidates. And yes, I am part of the suburban unwashed.

  4. Anthony says:

    What is that saying again – ‘if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything’

    The Canadian political left doesn’t stand for anything right now – no firm positions, no clear policies, no clear vision. I couldn’t even tell you what the Liberal or NDP core message/ideas are. And if I could, they would waffle within a few weeks anyhow.

    The left spends too much time sniping on ‘non-issues’ and fluff, and misses hitting the hard targets that are in the minds of Canadians. Instead of scraping by and scavenging for minor scandals, we need a party with a message and an unwavering vision for Canada’s future. The cons have a clear message and clear base – as radically conservative as it is in my mind, and can rally their troops behind their banner of a dismantled Canada.

    The left is balkanizing. Too many parties squabbling when they are often saying the same thing (back to identifying your core message). It is self-defeating and distasteful to observe. Either merge the centre-left or power-share/coalition.

  5. Stephen LeSmew says:

    I can’t wait until Brian Dennehy is our mayor. “His manifest unsuitability for office” is going to make for a hilarious tenure.

    Looking forward to SFH @ The Bovine tomorrow. You’re looking more and more like Barney Rubble these days…except, he has way more hair than you now.

  6. Dennis says:

    I’m not from Toronto, so I don’t care about the mayor race there.

    However, I wanted to mention that we adopted a Lab a few weeks ago, also named Roxie. Must be a popular dog name this year.

  7. Chris P says:

    Warren the “the best mayor Toronto never had” line is way over used for all those that have never been in power to actually implement any of their policies and thus exposing the consequences of them and reaping negative attitudes and scorn from different segments of the population. Those that receive the “the best mayor/premier/prime minister we never had” tag have never been in a position of power to actually do anything that would indicate otherwise. Evidently a lot of people either don’t remember or choice not think about some of the policy initiatives Mr. Tory has advocated – being against minimum wage increases (something Dalton advocated and implemented) comes to mind but than again he still perceived as ‘caring’ about those individuals in priority neighbourhoods across Toronto (yeah right) …The love affair with John Tory from the media is getting embarrassing.

  8. Hmmm... says:

    Interesting analysis Warren. Too bad my dogs name is Bentley 😉 This is a long race – too long in my opinion. The average voter will not really pay attention until the last few weeks. This leaves those candidate who are in dire need of some real stratgey and messaging to review their plan from now until E Day. It is a real leap of faith and one that a candidate must take if they want to win. As I have said before, you can run to make a point or you can run to win but, you cannot do both. They are some creative and unique methods just waiting for a golden opportunity.

    Another interesting point about Adam. Should he have dropped out? It is hard to say, as he is really the only one who can answer that. The pressure during those few days must have been unbearable. Maybe he felt he had no choice. Saying he would not run again though was a bit over the top, as he is now out entirely. He is certainly interesting as a candidate.

    This is August and the political landscape will constantly change until Election Day. I suspect we have not seen the end of the many twists and turns of what has been a roller coaster ride of a municipal campaign.

    “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” – Bette Davis

    Perhaps we shall see you at the Bovine. Sounds like a great night.

  9. allegra fortissima says:

    “Some parties have platforms. The Liberals have public opinion polls. Some parties have heart. The Liberals have a weathervane where their heart would normally be. The Tin Woodsmen of Canadian politics, that’s the Liberals. They’re as slippery as greased eels, and as hard to pin down as Jell-O to a wall…

    The NDP are about as fashionable as permed hair and disco sideburns. As Canada’s national socialist party fades into the twilight of its increasingly irrelevant ideology, many a media pundit gets nostalgic and speaks wistfully about a possible ‘retro craze’ that will see the silliness that is socialism taken seriously again by someone outside the CBC. (‘Coming up Next on Counterspin: International Trade – Threat or Menace?’)…

    The Conservatives used to be a political party. Now they’re this bizarre fringe group that walks around wild-eyed like a crazed street person insisting to anyone who will listen ‘We’re a national alternative. We’re a national alternative.’ This is the party that gave us Brian Mulroney. ‘Nuff said. The party’s name itself represents the ultimate in Canadian political nomenclature: Progressive Conservative. Not unlike the ‘Forward-Backward Party’ or the ‘Pushme-Pullme Party’. Which is apt. The federal tories have all the unerring political instincts of lobotomized gnats…”

    Quoted from my latest bookshelf-find: Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson, How To Be A Canadian (Even If You Are Already One). Published in 2001. You guys think it’s completely outdated?

    For the celebrities among you: The last four pages of Chapter 7 – Canadian Cuisine (And How To Avoid It). Valuable tips on how to deal with Wan Jong (did I spell that correctly?) and similar creatures. Will save you a lot of heartache.

    Gotta go now to read Chapter 8: Mating Rituals, Sex, Canoes And Evil Empire… Alhtough in this country for over a decade, this is new to me!

    Have a good one!

  10. AmandaM says:

    We just got a lovely yellow lab (a 4 year-old boy, name is Windsor, for the city he was found roaming the streets of) – labs abound! We really won the jackpot of doggies, and he won the jackpot of owners, spoiled boy. 🙂

    Why are we hankering for people who AREN’T in politics, rather than ARE? First of all, this is a Liberal (well, from red tory to red dipper) phenomenon. By all accounts, the Reformatories are fine with their guy. Tories (and I mean actual Conservatives, not the Progressive ones) appear to be OK with Hudak *shudder* and aren’t mounting any “draft Runciman” movements. Liberals have had compromise candidates for so long, and none of them have been impressive. Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff on the Federal level, and in city politics, George (and knowing a few who have worked in his office, the Furious moniker is bang on) just got there first.

    I think that Liberals of all stripes assumed that the Mayor’s chair was sewn up for the Left, and when Adam Giambrone bailed (I can’t decide if it was good or bad, actually – he’ll bounce back, after he gets married, starts a family, shows some stability and maturity), we were all left scratching our heads – was there a chance for a Liberal candidate? “Oops, OK, George wants it. Fine. Let’s go with that.” The best candidates come through the “farm system” – be a councillor or an MPP/MLA/MP, then look to the big chair. I’m thinking about Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien, and Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau – the true stars of Canadian politics in the last 50 years – both came up through the ranks from MP to sub-Cabinet to Cabinet to the Leadership. We had time to get to know them in many different capacities.

    We have these days a system of instant gratification – we allow people to think that they don’t have to work in the trenches to become a true leader. George was a city worker, then an MPP and instant Senior Cabinet member. I would’ve liked to have seen him…contained (for lack of a better term) in a PA job for a year – he needed a bit of humbling, and it’s clear he feels entitled to big jobs, and I think that’s what bothers me about him. I think that’s the backbone of why we want people who aren’t in politics to jump in; John Tory has worked in the trenches. He slaved in a Mayor’s race when he could’ve been very cushy in the private sector, he got his hands incredibly dirty in by-elections (two!) and a general election, he had to deal with party revolt and clash of ideology in his own circle, and I think he is perfectly seasoned for the job. The last time he ran for the Mayor’s job, he seemed a bit snotty really (the Tory cottage was close to ours, and I met him many times – lovely man, but back then you got the entitled vibe), and that has disappeared. I can’t imagine the next Mayor’s term as anything but a disaster at a time when we need someone seasoned, mature, reliable, and well-suited to the job, so maybe next time John will realize how much we need him.

    The point, really, is that the candidates we see now are so…unsatisfying. Canadians are a deferential lot, but we need to know that the person/people to whom we will defer will have our interests at heart. Compromise candidates cannot be counted on for this, and so we are looking for someone who has (and I hate this term) “been there and done that” and has proven themselves to persevere and knowledgeable.

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