This Inside Toronto article today by Dave Nickle nicely sums up many reasons why I'm growing more disappointed with John Tory's mayoral campaign.
I have previously been quite open to voting for him, especially since he emerged as the main challenger to the incumbent buffoon Rob Ford.
But now that RoFo has dropped out due to illness, Dougie Ford has stepped in to take his place and, to date, has proven a weak replacement. Polls show him running third behind frontrunner Tory and second place nominee Olivia Chow. It’s clear DoFo is going to milk his brother’s cancer diagnosis for as many votes as he can get, which may win him most of Rob Ford’s supporters, but probably few others.
So I’m feeling much less pressure to vote strategically and instead vote for the Toronto I want, which I have to admit is not reflected in John Tory’s platform.
I hate the misguided, vote-buying, new debt-inducing, property-tax-raising plan to build a three-stop Scarborough subway extension instead of the better, fully funded light rail train option with its seven stops which will serve people who actually need rapid transit in Scarborough. This subway plan is the result of buffoon Rob Ford’s thinking and it’s galling that a bare majority of council (24 to 20) approved it last year.
The only reason it happened was mostly due to flip flopper Karen Stintz who flipped again on the issue in a bid to bolster her now defunct mayoral ambitions. It’s sad that John Tory buys into the misguided plan too. It seems to me this is only because Tory fears standing up to the same transit-hating voters in Scarborough who will never use the new subway, but still demand it be built so they too can “feel” as important as downtown.
I remain thrilled that Olivia Chow is brave enough to stand up for common sense with her pledge to build the 7-stop light rail train in Scarborough.
Tory’s weak cycling policy sort of announced over the last week (months after Olivia Chow released her better cycling plan) has done little to convince me he’ll be much different than the Fords on that issue either. After earlier questioning the urgently needed east-west separated bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide (now still just pilot projects), Tory now says he wants to build more bike lanes “in sensible locations.” He refuses to outline how many kilometres of new bike lanes or where he’ll build them until after the election. My experience with “sensible locations” means bike lanes that tend to completely disappear when they’re slightly inconvenient for cars. I was also shocked to read that Tory had never cycled in Toronto before a recent 2-hour bike ride with cycling advocate Jared Kolb.
This is hugely important to me as a cyclist who commutes daily on the very dangerous streets of downtown Toronto.
The latest disappointment happened this past weekend when Tory showed he hasn’t learned much from his 2007 debacle as provincial PC leader.
In 2007, Tory waded into the religious schools funding issue by pledging to extend Ontario public funding to all religious schools in addition to Catholic ones. This was clearly a sop both to the right-wingers in his party and also to Jewish voters. But it was a gross miscalculation on Tory’s part, as the majority of Ontarians then and now want less religion in public schools, not more. The issue derailed Tory’s 2007 provincial campaign, leading to his massive defeat.
I had thought Tory learned his lesson. It did seem he had as his current mayoral platform mostly avoids such polarizing and unhelpful pledges. That was, until he said last week he would change Toronto’s human rights policies to deny funding to Pride Toronto unless organizers banned “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” or QAIA, needlessly complicating an old issue.
Please don’t get me wrong: I have no affinity for QAIA or its strange obsession with alleged Israeli injustices (why don’t the organizers of QAIA spend as much time protesting human rights injustices by Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia or North Korea?) Israel is not an apartheid state so to call your group “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” is to misinform an important debate.
However, I don’t think the solution is to ban the group and write them all off as anti-Semites (especially since many members of QAIA are Jewish themselves). If the group is promoting a misleading or exaggerated message, then combat that misinformation with the truth, I say. Pride Toronto struggled greatly with how to deal with QAIA in 2012 and managed to draft up a mediation process to address it.
But the pledge here chosen by Tory is again to pander to win votes and do so in a way that undermines good public policy.
As a result of all of these issues, I am on the cusp of fully endorsing Olivia Chow for mayor. I fully support Chow’s public transit proposals for the city, as well as her cycling policy. She is an inclusive person whose positions are inspired by genuine conviction instead of calculated vote optimization. It’s lucky that Chow’s campaign is finally coming alive, with her appearing feistier at recent debates. I hope that continues. This is make-or-break time for Chow and if she doesn’t bring it over the next month, her political career is over.
The only reason I could vote for Tory now is to simply stop Doug Ford, should DoFo somehow manage to improve his standings in the polls. But if the race becomes a choice between Tory and Chow with DoFo a distant third, I’ll be voting for Olivia Chow.