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John Tory Doesn't Have to Lie

07/20/2014 10:54 EDT | Updated 09/19/2014 05:59 EDT
Andrew Francis Wallace via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 24 - John Tory registers for mayor's race at Toronto City Hall. February 24, 2014. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Jamie Heath's column -- "John Tory Will Say Anything To Finally Win," is an important and edifying read.

Heath begins his screed on Mr. Tory by attempting to tie him to comments made on CFRB by a former member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus, and Christie Blatchford, an independent member of the press. Heath's inferences are clear: (1) Mr. Tory consorts with sexists (and thereby implicitly condones their views); (2) Ms. Blatchford is in fact not an independent member of the press but a partisan hack; and (3) CFRB is being programmed by John Tory to John Tory's benefit. These are all patently absurd.

It is immediately evident Heath has no real interest in actually redressing any of the actors involved; he simply wants to drag John Tory through the mud by any means -- to the benefit of Ms. Chow. This, of late, is a consistent "best practice" of many official agents in both the Chow and Ford camps.

The irony of Heath's use of gutter tactics to score political points is not lost on anyone -- and it should not be dignified with any more oxygen than it has already been given.

The premises of his argument however, do deserve scrutiny.

Heath's first argument seems to be that a candidate can be judged by the company they have kept, keep, or even loosely associate(d) or work(ed) with -- whether by design or circumstance. This is of course a preposterous wholesale conceit, and a risky one. One would suspect Mr. Heath would be loath to explain, in accordance with such rules of association, the actions, views and records of dozens of Ms. Chow's colleagues in the NDP, including their positions on Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, the business community large and small, open market economies, the G8, the G20, globalization -- let alone their assaults on the Wynne and Harper governments -- with which Ms. Chow would have to work as Mayor of Toronto.

Heath's second argument, that John Tory and Rob Ford are one and the same, is equally absurd. Once again, Heath invites scrutiny that may not benefit his candidate. In 2003, around the time Heath alleges a deal was made between the Fords and Tory, Tory's War Room Director was none other than the same agent that Chow uses today. Perhaps that gentleman was the architect of the alleged deal? And while it is true that Ford's former campaign manager does work with the Tory campaign, our campaign manager is none other than Tom Allison, who most recently worked to secure Premier Kathleen Wynne's nomination to the leadership of her party, and then worked at Queen's Park to her benefit. Hardly Ford Nation, he.

Critically, Heath's third argument, respecting Tory's alleged dishonesty about all things transit, offers Torontonians a really good look at both campaigns' offerings.

Beginning in Scarborough, Ms. Chow proposes that the fully approved and financed plan to build a subway be scrapped, and that debate be re-opened to build an LRT. (The Minister of Transportation for Ontario confirmed just last week that the subway should and would be built -- and six Liberal Scarborough MPPs were just elected in part due to that commitment.)

Putting aside the wasted time and energy of re-visiting the issue, and the delay in providing a solution to gridlocked Torontonians, it seems impossible to believe that Ms. Chow could muster the needed votes at City Council, let alone work with governments that she has assailed as dishonest, corrupt, and untrustworthy for years. Respecting the will of the people, the agreement in place, and realizing that we have no more time to waste, Mr. Tory will build the Scarborough subway, which will afford commuters the capacity they need through the next hundred years, and not paralyze City Hall and Scarborough through endless debate for years to come.

In sum, Heath's claim that there is no agreement is contradicted by the sitting Provincial government, and his refusal to believe that there could be "shovels in the ground" by 2015 exposes him and his camp as exactly the obstructionists and prevaricators that the NDP have always been known to be -- Ms. Chow no exception.

Heath then decries Mr. Tory's rejection of Chow's proposed LRT build-outs, and of a stub of subway from Union to Pape to be completed by 2031. To build additional LRTs on Sheppard and Finch, without providing city-wide rail, would be madness, further taxing the Yonge Street subway line beyond its already overburdened capacity. To boot, Ms. Chow has offered no costing for her "plan."

John Tory's SmartTrack line would provide exactly the relief Heath claims to seek -- creating 53km of environmentally-sound high speed all-day electrified rail (90 per cent of which is already built) in seven years (not 17!).

That system would serve 22 stations, reducing the load on existing subway lines, without eliminating existing commuter lanes or exacerbating congestion with above-ground construction. SmartTrack is fully costed, and the Ontario government has already voiced their support for the electrification of that rail system -- bringing money to the table. They have made no such offer or commitment for any of Chow's proposals.

For four years, Rob Ford has pointed fingers and divided the city. He has pitted the rich against the poor and suburban families against downtown "elites." He has lied incessantly, repeating slogans and "facts" as loudly and as often as he can so that they might come true. He has made racist and sexist remarks, and broken the law. To compare him to John Tory, who has never done any of those things, is shameful.

Olivia Chow tells Torontonians that she would heal their city and bring them together. Yet some of her campaign staff engage in the same dishonesty that defined Rob Ford. To add insult to injury, they target John Tory as white, male, rich, and elite -- divisive, ad hominem attacks all -- designed to divide voters and our city to Ms. Chow's benefit. The John Tory campaign has not, and will never embrace like tactics. And so I say to you, Ms. Chow, tell your campaign team to abandon the rhetoric and the invective that only further wounds our community, and come and debate the facts. Or are you just prepared to do and say anything to win?