Posts Tagged ‘politics’
Spacing Toronto features John Lorinc’s article arguing that John Tory is not the consensus-builder promised to the electorate.
[I]n the wake of last week’s near photo-finish on the Gardiner vote, I couldn’t resist going back to the roll call on council’s August, 2009, decision to submit a draft terms of reference for an $8 million environmental assessment on a proposal to remove the eastern leg of the road we love to hate.
David Miller, then in the mayor’s office, handily marshalled a sturdy 26-10 majority in support of a document that was unambiguous about the direction the city and Waterfront Toronto wanted to go. Among the supporters way back then were these four suburbanites, all of whom supported the hybrid option last Thursday: Glen DeBaeremaeker, Frank DiGiorio, Norm Kelly and Giorgio Mammolitti (yes!).
[. . .]
My point in this little compare-and-contrast exercise is not to whine about council’s choice, but rather to note the relative margins of victory for two seemingly contradictory decisions. Miller, at the time, was limping away from an exceptionally bruising garbage strike, which was resolved only after a concession by the City that many people saw as a capitulation by the mayor. Traffic congestion, moreover, wasn’t much different than today. Despite all that, plus the fact that three reliable downtown councillors missed the vote, Miller, who’d come out publicly in support of removing the eastern end of the Gardiner, delivered a strong margin of victory.
Now let’s think about Mayor Tory last week. Just six scandal-free months into a first term, he should be sitting on a veritable mountain of political capital. He won office by selling himself as the great unifier. His base of electoral support, what’s more, extended well into the old City of Toronto, and neighbourhoods that don’t typically vote for conservatives.
Yet for all that, plus numerous pre-vote pressers, speeches and media appearances, Tory’s victory was as flimsy and unstable as could be, and turned on some transparently phony motions to study ideas — tunnels! tolls! tolled tunnels! — that every single sentient person at City Hall knows will never see the light of day.
The Torontoist editorial is clear.
We had it confirmed that John Tory treats the mayor’s office like a political party machine. The talking points uniformly spouted by the councillors loyal to him, the stench of Nick Kouvalis, the assemblance of friendly lobbyists—all of this speaks to organized, command-driven, party-line politics. The fact that he was clearly upset that Jennifer Keesmaat dared to contradict him in public (he could not even deny that he had tried to silence her when asked about that allegation) demonstrates that Tory seems to believe that he has some sort of authority over her responsibilities to the public—and it is eminently believable, given his extensive corporate executive background, that he would consider her “his” employee on some level.
But more important than Tory’s tactics in this political fight was his inspiration, and it is what got him this gig in the first place: John Tory is Mr. Status Quo, the do-nothingest of do-nothing candidates. He will talk your ear off about change, of course, because every politician has to do that in order to look Serious, and Tory cares a great deal about looking Serious. But what was marketed as change was effectively an expensive but very slight modification to the existing Gardiner East as the “hybrid” option. (His speech to the Empire Club, featuring at least 36 falsehoods or misleading statements by our count, was illustrative in this regard.)
Ultimately, John Tory’s base looks at present-day Toronto and says “more of the same,” because John Tory’s base is wealthy and satisfied. The mayor rode to electoral victory thanks to the people who are already doing well in Toronto, and more of the same, for them, means more of them doing well. Tory has chosen to try to deliver what his base expects; councillors loyal to Tory work in lockstep towards that.
But at least he isn’t Rob Ford.