Monday, September 29, 2014

The reasons I really like John Tory and may still vote for him...

I have always liked John Tory and, as the polls show him as the best candidate to beat Doug Ford, I hope he does.

If this new poll out today (showing a clear but modest lead for Tory over Ford with Olivia Chow trailing in third) is backed up by Nanos and other pollsters, I will be voting for him.

As this Star article makes clear, John Tory has learned from past mistakes to run a textbook smart campaign this year.  He got in early in the race and has been pacing himself well.  He's been articulate.  He's been clear about his priorities.  He's smartly put a creative and much-needed policy on fixing Toronto's gridlock & transportation crisis at the centre of his campaign. I don't agree with everything he stands for, but I'm comfortable with his moderately progressive conservative positions on most issues. He's not a far-right conservative; he's a moderate.

He's also taken on the Fords in a way I've enjoyed immensely.  His attacks on their nonsense have always struck the right balance between outrage and the need for something better.  He does seem to be the breath of fresh air many Torontonians are looking for. 

All of these factors can be seen in Tory's new TV ad campaign. 

There have been many people quibbling about the details of his Smart Track plan, claiming it's not properly financed or that the proposed route of the track won't work. Tory's batted those criticisms aside like a pro and has remained focused. He's convinced me for the most part. Campaign platforms are rarely perfect and will always need to go through the process of legislative and bureaucratic approvals in order to weed out flaws.

I've been disappointed by Olivia Chow's campaign for mayor. As a downtown gay man, I should have been firmly in Olivia's camp long ago. Her policies have been bang on for me. I support her light rail train plan for Scarborough. I support her ambitious plan to build 200 kms of new bike lanes in the city. I am generally more in agreement with her on most issues than John Tory, whose support for the Scarborough subway extension has disappointed me.

Yet the fact that I and many, many other progressive Toronto residents are considering voting for Tory speaks volumes about his character and his message: Tory's found a way to straddle the great divide between conservative and progressive in a way we haven't seen in a generation or two in Ontario. If polls are correct, Tory leads strongly both in downtown Toronto and most of the suburbs. No candidate running to get elected mayor for the first time has ever done that in post-amalgamation Toronto. It's always been downtown versus the suburbs.

Chow suffers from what I call "NDP-itis," which is the mistaken belief that your far-left, NDP priorities and beliefs are so beautifully superior in and of themselves, you only need to merely put them in the window in order for them to receive massive support. Frequently, those Dippers suffering from NDP-itis can't seem to figure out why their precious priorities fall flat with the public. Chow has put her policies and issues in the window and hasn't truly sold them to the public. When she defends her plan or attacks Tory's plan, it grates rather than convinces. Chow hasn't earned the confidence of Toronto voters or inspired us or made us believe our city will be in strong hands going forward with her in the mayor's chair. I worry that Chow will divide the city in the opposite direction than the Fords.

It now seems clear Chow was a great idea on paper that in practice hasn't lived up to the promise. I wanted to vote for her a great deal. Because of the Scarborough subway issue, I still may. But I'm very tempted to vote for the candidate who's run the best campaign and has managed to unite the city behind his candidacy: John Tory.

If the polls continue to show John Tory in the lead with the awful Doug Ford a strong second, I'll be voting for Tory. All other issues are secondary to me. Fixing our city's leadership with someone who's decent is my only real priority this year and John Tory has earned his position as Ford-slayer.

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