John Tory: Build one Toronto

The Camera is profiling the three main candidates for Toronto mayor in the Oct. 27 election. This week, we talk with John Tory.

By Gerald V. Paul

Mayoralty candidate John Tory, seen here at right during a Caribbean community event, is currently leading the field. Photo by GerardPhoto
Mayoralty candidate John Tory, seen here at right during a Caribbean community event, is currently leading the field.
Photo by GerardPhoto

“He was the conscience of the company. I marvel that I was blessed to have continuity and alignment with someone so gifted and yet somebody I could share my lineage with,” David Thompson of the Thompson family and its $20-billion empire said on the passing of John A. Tory, a quiet, humble man.

Enter John H. Tory, son of John A., lawyer, business leader, community activist and broadcaster, who took the opportunity to attend most of the activities in the Caribbean and Black community and who told The Camera, “I am running for mayor of Toronto because I believe our city can be more liveable, affordable and functional. I know we have what it takes to succeed.

“And I believe in building One Toronto.”

Recent polls put Tory just ahead of Doug Ford and substantially leading Olivia Chow.

Respected lawyer and community leader Prof. Rocco Achampong posted on Facebook: “John will work across party lines to build transit for Toronto. Sign up to support John.”

Achampong agrees with Tory, that Toronto is a great place to raise a family, build a career and follow your passions.

In a Time for Action , a report on violence affecting youth, Tory shared his thoughts as a believer in the “broken window” theory. If we just let the so-called “little things” go because we don’t think they really matter or because we don’t have the resources to deal with them, offenders will conclude there are no consequences to their actions and more brazen and serious criminals acts will follow.

That underscores the need for community policing, not only to keep criminals away but to deter criminal activity to begin with.

According to Tory, more often than not, young people who become involved in acts of violence come from communities in which there is inadequate access to the necessary educational resources, community activities and facilities, jobs and economic opportunity.

He said a significant numbers of these young people have an independent spirit consistent with becoming entrepreneurs. They repeatedly cite the fact that access to even a small amount of seed capital is especially difficult for them.

Tory has deep roots in the community including corporate, where he served as managing partner of one of Canada’s biggest law firms. He was also principal secretary to former premier Bill Davis and an associate secretary of the Ontario Cabinet. He joined Rogers as president and CEO of Rogers Media Inc. and has an extensive background in charity and humanitarian work, including autism, kids at risk, and children with physical disabilities.

He is a former board member and is the voluntary chair of the Greater Civic Action Alliance (formerly called Toronto City Summit Alliance), a respected city-building organization.

On transit, Tory’s plan features 53 kilometers of track with 22 stops for $8 billion in seven years.

However, rival Chow’s adviser Warren Kinsella dubbed Tory’s SmartTrack plan ‘Segregationist Track’ on Twitter. “John Tory if you don’t come from his demographic, he doesn’t give a s… if you lose transit service. Tory, out of touch. Discriminate?” Kinsella later deleted the tweet and apologized.

Tory’s track record in elections is spotty. In the 2007 Ontario election, the Conservatives under his leadership were considered to have a solid chance of beating the governing Liberals. Tory pledged to extend $400 million in public funding to all faith-based religious schools, not just Catholic schools.

After a negative reaction, he flip-flopped and vowed to hold a free vote in the Legislature on the issue if he won. It was too late and Tory was seen as being indecisive.

This time, Tory says he is in fighting form and ready to be mayor.

As a former MPP, leader of the Ontario PC Party and leader of the Opposition in Ontario, said as mayor, he can work with City Council, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“Toronto is an amazing city and together we can make a difference.” He said he is offering leadership and vision and the ability to create successful partnerships and citywide initiatives that capitalize on their strengths.