With the Toronto mayoral race in the final stretch, John Tory is now touting himself as the only candidate who can work effectively with the Conservative government in Ottawa and the Liberal government at Queen's Park.
But Rob Ford is suggesting that Tory's boasts could result in an unhappy phone call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Ford unveiled a $9-billion, 32-kilometre subway expansion plan Wednesday, which he vows can be built without any tax increases. Ford says that funding for the massive project will come, in part, from building on existing "partnerships" with the provincial and federal governments.
Ontario Liberals came out in favour of the Scarborough subway expansion project just before a byelection in the city last summer and former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty pledged $660-million for the project last fall. Flaherty and Harper even appeared with Ford in Toronto to announce the funding, despite the fact that the mayor was engulfed in his (first) crack video scandal at the time.
Yet, Tory told reporters after a debate Wednesday morning that Ford has "run out of gas" and won't be getting help from the likes of Harper and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on his new transit plans.
"I'd like to ask (Ford) when was the last time he talked to the premier of Ontario or talked to the prime minister of Canada, who are people leading governments that have to be partners in every single thing that he talked about," he said.
Tory suggested Ford has burned too many bridges to move the city forward on the transit file.
"The governments don't want to deal with him, they don't return his phone calls," Tory said.
Tory said he suspects the last time the Toronto mayor spoke with key figures in other governments was "about five Jimmy Kimmel shows ago," and that Ford isn't taken seriously these days.
The remarks evidently did not sit well with Ford, who, according to a Nanos Research poll released Tuesday, is 14 points behind Tory in second place. Former NDP MP Olivia Chow is now in third place, according to the survey.
In fact, Ford suggested to CP24 host Stephen LeDrew Wednesday that Tory might soon be scolded by Harper.
"It's funny that you say the prime minister doesn't talk to me. You know what? John Tory might be getting a call earlier than he thinks from the prime minister. I know him well. I know the prime minister doesn't like people talking on his behalf," Ford said.
"So, you know what? I hope John and Mr. Harper have a very good relationship like he says they have because he might be getting a call sooner than later."
Ford and Harper did have a strong relationship at one time.
The prime minister was a guest at the "Ford Fest" barbecue in 2011, where he famously lauded the Ford family as a "conservative political dynasty." The mayor endorsed Harper in the last federal election.
Unlike Employment Minister Jason Kenney, the prime minister did not call for Ford to resign in the thick of his drug scandal last November. However, Harper's top spokesperson did call Ford's admission that he smoked crack "troubling."
Meanwhile, Tory is pulling out all the stops to present himself as the consensus choice of Ontario Liberals and federal Tories.
On Tuesday, Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid formally endorsed Tory and told reporters his Ontario Liberal colleagues are "almost unanimously enthusiastic" about his campaign.
Wynne has promised to stay neutral on the race.
Toronto voters head to the polls on Oct. 27.
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