[URBAN NOTE] “How John Tory went from calling tolls ‘highway robbery’ to crusading for them”
The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell explains how John Tory came to embrace the idea of road tolls for the Gardiner and the DVP.
To Mayor John Tory’s trusted advisers, it seemed an incongruous end to months of internal debate and strategizing on how to address Toronto’s financial challenges, build transit — and not hurt his shot at re-election.
Jet-lagged and still wearing the Christmas-themed, Don-Cherry-style jacket from his appearance at the Santa Claus parade, Tory delivered an impassioned speech on his willingness to back road tolls, even if it meant putting his political career at risk.
“This is the right way forward. This is the right time and it’s the right thing to do,” Tory told his relieved staffers gathered in the boardroom of his second-floor office at city hall, four days before announcing the proposal publicly in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
The road to that watershed moment — and raising Tory’s comfort level to make the boldest, most significant decision of his mayoralty — took months of preparation of all those assembled: chief of staff Chris Eby; principal secretary Vic Gupta; Siri Agrell, director of strategic initiatives; Amanda Galbraith, director of communications, and Luke Robertson, director of council and stakeholder relations.
They began laying the groundwork with Tory’s call for 2.6 per cent reductions from city departments and agencies. But that narrative of the right — cutting waste and finding efficiencies will solve all fiscal challenges — doesn’t build subway lines.