By Gerald V. Paul
John Tory – about to become a household name in the Caribbean community – says that as mayor, he will unite Toronto and deliver results.
After a long, tough campaign, Tory will officially take over Dec. 1 as Toronto’s 65th mayor. He captured about 395,000 votes or 40%, with 60% turnout at the polls in his bid to replace Rob Ford, now elected as councilor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North after dropping out of the mayor’s race due to ill health.
Last Monday night at his packed election night headquarters at Liberty Grand, Tory made a promise to the faithful and to Toronto residents in general: “As your new mayor I will work with the council that you elected tonight in moving Toronto not left, not right, but forward. I will be a balanced and accountable leader.
“What a great crowd! And what a great night this is for our city. We will build a strong, inclusive city.”
Tory added, “Ladies and gentlemen, the people have spoken and tonight, we begin the work of building one Toronto – a prosperous, fair, respected and caring Toronto.”
Tory, 60, defeated latecomer Doug Ford, brother of Rob, who took 34% of the vote and Olivia Chow who garnered 23%. While Tory won the popular vote, his support was mostly in wards in the core and North York, while Ford took large swaths of Etobicoke and Scarborough. Chow prevailed only in Wards 14 and 18, west of downtown.
Tory, who ran for mayor once before and lost, said, “We will stop neglecting and leaving citizens behind in our city’s most isolated neighbourhoods. We will tackle our unacceptable youth unemployment rate, get down to work on the priorities that matter most to them – better transit, more jobs, an end to the gridlock that is choking our streets.”
Tory also stressed his SmartTrack transit plan and putting people first when making decisions that affect the congestion and traffic that daily snarl Canada’s largest city.
Tory, who led the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party to defeat in 2007 and failed to win a seat as an MPP, said, “I will be a balanced and accountable leader. And we are going to do this together.”
He noted that he regards Torontonians as citizens and not just taxpayers, a favourite term of the Ford brothers in their appeals to Ford Nation. “We are going to do this together, all of us who love this city and care about its future.”
Tory said he will immediately get to work on the priorities that matter most to citizens: better transit, more jobs, ending arguments on how to deal with gridlock on the streets and an end to the division that has paralyzed City Hall in the past four years.
“Our civic democracy absolutely depends on good people having difficult but necessary discussions.”
Tory wished Mayor Rob Ford well and congratulated him on his victory in Ward 2, saying he looks forward to working with him in a productive manner on council.
Tory also thanked Doug Ford. “We may have disagreed on some of the solutions to our city’s challenges but it does take courage to put your name on any ballot.”
To Chow, he said she offered a vision of Toronto that appealed to the best in a lot of us. Your personal story is a true personification of tremendous potential that is Toronto and Canada.”
And to his family, friends, staff and supporters, “Please know that the only reason I’m standing here tonight is because for eight months I stood on your shoulders.”
Rob Ford promised to continue as a councilor what he and his brother stood for at City Hall.
“My brother did an absolutely phenomenal job. If you know anything about the Ford family, we never, ever, give up,” he said. “And I guarantee: in four more years, you’re going to see another example of the Ford family never, ever giving up.”
In his concession speech, Doug Ford said he worked hard with his brother, “side by side,” to give Toronto taxpayers a voice, adding that he will continue to do his part to build Toronto as a businessman.
Chow, a former New Democrat MP and wife of the late Jack Layton, led in opinion polls initially in the campaign but had faded to third place by election day. Tory entered the race in third place.
Said Chow, who has won 10 elections and lost two, “This election has never been about me. It’s about all of us. All of us here, all of us coming together to make progress.”
Michael Thompson, of Jamaican birth who came here as a youth, was re-elected in Ward 7, the western half of Scarborough Centre and called Tory “a terrific person” whose leadership will contribute to smooth running of City Council.
Dewitt Lee, a Toronto-born person of colour and longshot mayoralty candidate, took .05% of votes for mayor. It was his second attempt. He was one of more than 60 people running for mayor.