The first official televised mayoralty debate ended as it began. Among the five candidates, only three have a serious chance of becoming the next mayor of Toronto. Karen Stintz and David Soknacki, while both are smart and informed candidates, their chance is as good as George Smitherman making a comeback in the 2014 mayoralty race.
So let us focus on the three serious candidates for mayor of Toronto. John Tory, Olivia Chow and Rob Ford.
Just to clarify, I admire John Tory and I have even endorsed his candidacy in earnest. He is a decent, engaged and smart citizen that Toronto would be privileged to have as its mayor. However, among the average (Chow) and the bad (Ford), in the debate, Tory (the better) came across soft and weak last night. That is not good.
Every time he was asked a serious question last night, he chose to not answer most of them and kept referring to a future plan announcement that is still in the works. He reminded most of the Kim Campbell Prime Minister run of 1993, where she announced how campaign seasons are not times to focus and debate serious issues.
The experience of Tory losing many political battles to lesser quality candidates in the past should have reminded him that in politics, the electorate wants immediate answers to their issues and not just a down payment promise. If Tory is to have any chance of being elected, he has to go beyond just being nice and start eloquently pursuing a unique brand and policies to his candidacy ASAP. Just being nice and promising a future promise is not good enough to win in politics. Ask British Columbia's Adrian Dix.
Why he did not have a response to Ford and Chow as he was especially being attacked by both is mind boggling? "I don't really need to take any lessons from you, because we're not a golf course right now", Chow shot back to Tory at one point. I can see Jamey Heath and Warren Kinsella, partisan veteran animals and failed candidates of their respective parties in 1997, giving each other high-fives at his expense.
What a missed opportunity it was for Tory to ask Chow about her own problems with telling the truth. Why was she living in a subsidized co-operative housing and paying only $800 with her late husband while earning more than a combined income of $100,000? Even if she claims she was paying market value, why did they start paying a voluntary some $300 extra if it is not an obvious admission of wrongdoing?
Then she claimed, as a struggling immigrant, she understood the value of the dollar. Why didn't Tory shot back on why she spent thousands of dollars via her MP's office budget to her constituent's mere days before she resigned to run for mayor? Is she conscious of just her own dollars or the taxpayers as well? Her public record does not support any fiscal credential when it comes to the public's purse.
This was a rare opening for John Tory to attack and advocate for his own candidacy.
How about the clown mayor whose own character is the butt of jokes around the world? Why did he not ask him about the criminal investigation, the crack smoking and drunken public life he has lived since he became mayor? Why did Tory not challenge Ford on the voodoo economics he was using to defend his fiscal credibility?
At this debate, the standard of each of the candidates was obviously different. People expected the world from Tory, mere average sound bite eloquence from Chow and for Ford to just stand on his feet and speak without embarrassing himself. Chow and Ford impressed us all while, John Tory, came up short.
I still think he will make a better 65th mayor of Toronto.
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