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Does John Tory Have the Right Stuff To Face Off Against Olivia Chow?

03/21/2014 05:32 EDT | Updated 05/21/2014 05:59 EDT

As expected, a recent Forum Research poll has Olivia Chow leading as initial front runner with 36 per cent.

Mayor Ford is second with 28 per cent, his support still holding strong.

The big surprise is the third place finish of John Tory, at 22 per cent. In a previous hypothetical match up between Chow, Ford and Tory, Forum Research had Tory at 27 per cent in a February poll.

I propose to offer some hard-nosed political advice as to how Tory can kick start his faltering campaign.

But first, a brief explanation as to why Tory finds himself in third place.

Lorne Bozinoff, President of Forum Research, interpreting the most recent poll results above, concluded:

"These findings represent relative stability for Ford since the company polled him at 31 per cent in February, "while John Tory, who had just entered the race the last time we polled, has seen his vote decline from 27 per cent."

Marcus Gee of The Globe and Mail attributed Tory's weak numbers to the fact "Ms. Chow is a strong candidate with an appealing personal story and she is off to a fast start. She can count on the city's well-organized left."

As to Ford's support, Gee concluded, "Mr. Ford has a core of supporters that seems to stick with him whatever he does. Mr. Tory has no such natural base."

I have already written a series of Huffington Post articles that explain the unwavering support of Ford supporters, who are sticking with Ford, despite all the allegations, videos and Ford's personal demons.

My conclusion is that Ford's support is rock solid. But support for Chow, the new politico on the block, is much softer.

And if John Tory wants to grow his numbers, he cannot wait for seven months to connect to the voters.

As Tory claimed in his kick off speech at a downtown Toronto rally this past week.

I believe that that Tory has four to eight weeks to make a forceful and compelling impression on Toronto voters.

Marcus Gee suggests that Tory can be successful in this mayoral race by trying to occupy the happy middle between hard right Ford and tax and spend Chow on the left.

Gee stated: "The essence of Mr. Tory's message is that he would give voters Mr. Ford's respect for taxpayers without the divisiveness and the sideshow and Ms. Chow's care for the disadvantaged without the hard left swing and the reversion to "tax-and-spend." That would position him neatly in the middle as a caring conservative, the candidate who would take Toronto "not left, not right, but forward."

In other words, John Tory, wants to present himself as a "Red Tory."

I have four words for Mr. Tory and his illustrious brain trust: "Joe Clark/Alison Redford."

Red Toryism is dead federally (Joe Clark/Peter McKay), provincially (has Tory already forgotten his provincial losses in the provincial ridings of Don Valley West and Dufferin/Peel/Wellington/Grey, and the disastrous 2007 provincial campaign as Ontario PC leader?) and even, municipally.

Today, there is no happy middle in Toronto city politics.

There is the right, which is: pro Scarborough subway, pro Porter Air, pro Porter Air expansion, pro taming unions, pro garbage privatization, pro privatization, pro minimum increase in taxes, anti-government expansion and pro business/private sector.

And the left which is: pro Scarborough LRT, anti-Porter Air, anti-Porter Air expansion, anti-privatization, pro unions, pro larger increase in taxes, pro government expansion and cool to business/private sector.

If Tory thinks that he can straddle these two political poles, and pick some issues from Column A and other issues from Column B, then I guarantee that Tory will alienate Toronto voters from both the right and the left.

And he will achieve a record-breaking sixth political loss.

Alternatively, I suggest that Tory has to come out now -- hard, fast and negative against Olivia Chow. He needs to "Harperize" Chow and define her in the public eye, before she defines herself. In order to wrest Chow's soft supporters, who really do not know the real Olivia Chow, from the Chow camp.

Because Olivia Chow does not come to this city race, without some major political baggage.

Frankly, I am surprised that Nick Kouvalis, Tory's own answer to Chow's political attack dog, Warren Kinsella, has not done a better job in the media and the social media of raising serious questions of Chow's subsidized co-op housing arrangement in the 1980s at the Hazelburn Co-op Apartments.

Chow, in an interview on Sun TV, with her own advisor, the above-mentioned Kinsella, once again stated that she did nothing wrong because she paid "market rent" of $800 for a three-bedroom apartment from 1988-1990.

The Tory campaign should also question whether Chow's anti-Scarborough subway, pro Scarborough LRT position, is in reality, just Chow pandering to her downtown Toronto SWAG/ leftist elitist base.

Chow has many weaknesses.

The question for John Tory is does he have the toughness and cojones to attack and fight Chow and take support away from her, in order to be the next mayor of Toronto?

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