By Michael Lashley
I have received a poignant query from a friend who has more decades of experience as an analyst of Toronto’s political scene than I do: “Can a white, well-connected, well-heeled guy figure out what more than 50% of Torontonians want, beyond the motherhood issues of transit, jobs and controlling municipal costs and taxation? Can he truly create ‘One Toronto’?”
The simplest answer is that if that white guy is John Tory and if he continuously practices the attitudes inherent in his selection of his Transition Team and his Transition Advisory Team, then his chances of success in creating his One Toronto ideal are very high.
Tory won the mayoral election because he combined two sources of support into a majority vote. He had a solid bloc of first-choice voters made up of persons who shared his political philosophy, members of the business community and persons who were willing to accept the candidate most likely to embody the skills and experience of a good manager/leader.
Furthermore, he, more than any other candidate, also benefitted from the substantial support of those persons who voted for their candidate of second-choice either because they did not particularly favour any of the three main candidates or because they decided to vote strategically to keep Doug Ford out of contention.
Most analysts would be impressed by Tory’s choice of persons for the two teams he is counting on to guide him through the process of transition. Instead of limiting himself to the key specialist strategists in his own political campaign, he has chosen to include some aces of another kind, four of whom I have personally rated as being especially worthy of mention.
No one should be surprised at his recourse to the valuable services of Dr. Alvin Curling and Joe Holstead.
Curling has significant political experience as an MPP and as a Speaker of the Ontario Legislature and brings to the table a deep understanding of the Black community. Holstead is also an empowered representative of the Black community and includes among his many assets the vast technical and managerial experience arising from his career at the highest levels of the public service in the pre-amalgamation and post-amalgamation GTA as well as in a number of state-controlled agencies and boards.
Dr. Sheldon Levy, as the visionary president of Ryerson University, leads the team of achievers that has made a raving success of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone and its related initiative, Magnet.
The fourth ace is the irrepressible Gordon Cressy, one of the most gifted Canadians to have graced the fields of community development and charitable fundraising, while excelling in the not-for-profit sector.
So, how can Tory make his One Toronto ideal a reality for the Caribbean and the wider Black communities, as well as for all the other visible and non-visible communities?
I venture to suggest that Tory is fully capable of understanding that he is the mayor for and of all Torontonians, not just of those who voted for him. Therefore he fully accepts that, while he will be inspired by The Epistle according to John Tory, he must implement The Gospel according to The People and their elected municipal representatives, the councilors.
Tory won because he was deemed by the majority of voters to have earned more of their confidence than other candidates in his ability to be both a good manager and a unifying force.
The electorate has decided that he will be the one to act on the basis of the two E’s that are at the core of respecting and building on the ethno-cultural diversity of Torontonians, almost 50% of whom were born outside of Canada: Engagement and Empowerment.
In his planning and preparations, his appointments inside and outside the council chambers, his implementation of policies, plans and programs, his review of efficiency and effectiveness, his proposals for budget allocations and for budget cuts, and his ongoing process of problem-solving, he will be the one to stick to the four C’s that are essential to the success of creating One Toronto: Consultation, Consideration, Communication and Consensus.
Over to you, Mayor John Tory!