Contrary to conventional wisdom, John Tory is going after the downtown Toronto leftist vote, not the conservative Ford Nation vote.
Let me explain.
CFRB, 1010 Newstalk radio host and golf aficionado, John Tory, officially entered the race on Monday to become the next Mayor of Toronto.
To continue the golf analogy, for Tory's first shot, although Tory appeared to line up to the right with the intention of hitting the ball down the centre, Tory hooked to the left and into the rough.
This is entirely predictable because John Tory has not being going to the right for years now.
Royson James of the Toronto Star believes that with the entry of Tory and Stintz, the so-called "right" will be splitting the vote between Ford, Stintz, Tory and to a lesser degree, Soknacki.
"What we now have is a recipe for vote-splitting on the right that could lead to two outcomes polls show the majority of Torontonians don't favour now: a Ford re-election with less than 30 per cent of the vote; or a Chow romp.
Having failed to sort out their preferred candidate before the race began, conservative voters and organizers will have to figure it out over the next six months.
Is it the damaged Ford, or a more palatable alternative? Only then will they be ready to tackle Chow in what promises to be a defining campaign for Toronto's future."
With due respect to reporter James, I take a different, more contrarian approach.
I predict that John Tory, if he does have any real support, will be cutting into the downtown Toronto leftist elitist vote, that is, into Chow Country. Not into Ford Nation which includes the neglected outer suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.
The conservative right in Ontario started abandoning John Tory around the time he, against the advice of his Conservative advisers and his fellow Ontario Conservative caucus colleagues, persisted in advocating for public funding of faith-based schools during the disastrous 2007 Ontario provincial election.
Recall in that election, John Tory, due to his own arrogance and stubbornness, single-handedly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and personally handed an unpopular Dalton McGuinty another majority victory.
During that same election, the provincial riding of Don Valley West rejected John Tory for his Liberal opponent, Kathleen Wynne.
Subsequent to those two horrible defeats, Tory tried for about 18 months to convince his caucus colleagues that someone should give up his/her seat so that Tory could lead his party as an elected representative in the Ontario legislature.
Finally, after convincing one of his conservative colleagues to hand her seat to him, Tory then proceeded to lose in a by-election one of the most secure conservative seats in Ontario.
Though leader of the Ontario Conservative party, I firmly believe that Tory's failure to obtain a seat for 18 months and his subsequent failure to win a provincial seat in a safe Conservative provincial riding in a 2009 by-election, were clear evidence that Ontario conservatives and their provincial representatives had given up on John Tory and in effect had abandoned him.
I also believe that Tory's years as a talk show host have not helped him attract conservative supporters.
In a recent Forum Research poll, in a hypothetical matchup among Ford, Chow, Tory, Stintz and Soknacki, Chow would win with 35 per cent, Ford would nab 30 per cent, Tory 22 per cent, Stintz six, and Soknacki three. In a Chow-free scenario that included Tory: Ford wins with 33 per cent, while Tory languishes behind at 28, Stintz gets 17 and Soknacki eight.
Note in either scenario, Ford's support remains strong and solid in the 30-35 per cent range. Tory has no traction in Ford Nation. In the absence of Chow, the other major contenders, Tory, Stintz and Soknacki must fight over and go after Chow's support -- not Ford's unwavering and solid Ford Nation support.
In other words, Tory's best hope for victory is that he must go after Chow's downtown support immediately.
Let me throw another log on the fire.
My thesis is not only that the right has abandoned Tory, and will not vote for him in significant numbers, but that Tory has actively shifted left to go after mushy Liberal support.
In other words, John Tory, in the first days of his campaign, has revealed himself to be what many of us true fiscal conservatives have long suspected: John Tory is a mushy downtown Liberal elitist in Tory clothing.
Tory's first priority is to kick-start the building of another downtown subway, the so-called, "Downtown Relief Subway," notwithstanding that the downtown elites have already, count them, three subways to choose from: the Yonge subway, the Spadina-University line and the Bloor subway. And the neglected suburbs, save for the short Sheppard subway -- to date -- zilch, nada, zero.
John Tory's campaign is being run by a McGuinty/Wynne Liberal honcho, Tom Allison, Premier Wynne's adviser and campaign manager for her leadership victory. Tory's key advisers include Ontario Liberal heavyweight provincial minister Brad Duguid and Scarborough Ontario Liberal Mitzi Hunter.
I guess his new political philosophy is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".
John Tory is already starting to sound all "touchy feely" like Premier Kathleen Wynne.
In a recent campaign ad, Tory said "people have to come to work at City Hall - councillors and everybody, and work together, not against each other."
The problem with this "namby, pamby" approach to city politics and governance is that the left-wing councillors on Toronto city council are tough, single-minded and inflexible in their objectives. They oppose the privatization of garbage services in Toronto.
I believe that with a compliant mayor, the left would prefer de-privatizing garbage services. And as in Miller time, be in favour of dramatically increasing city services, union jobs for life and overgenerous pensions at city hall, all funded by Toronto taxpayers.
John Tory's more conciliatory approach, that is, to cave in to the hard left-wing city council faction, may bring short term peace in city hall, but would lead to future garbage strikes and would be disastrous for Toronto's fiscal future.
To date, I believe that true fiscally responsible voters will pass on John Tory.
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