If it looks right wing and sounds right wing, is it Rocco Rossi?

If it looks right wing and sounds right wing, is it Rocco Rossi?

Swing to the left: Rocco Rossi at the Toronto Board of Trade (Image: roccorossi.com) 

So far in the 2010 mayoral race, Rocco Rossi has been known as the right-wing candidate; and in a town like Toronto, that’s a label with a thousand liabilities. So, with bona fide conservative Rob Ford poised to join the mayoral race this week and Rossi not wanting to lose the centrist vote, the former Liberal fundraiser is looking for ways to change his image: “I don’t see myself as right or left. I see myself as pragmatic. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” Rossi told the Star. “I think that there’s a reflex to try to make things easier by categorizing each of us into buckets: Rocco Rossi is right, Joe Pantalone is left, George Smitherman is centre.”

For evidence of his liberal leanings, the candidate points to his City Builders Fund proposal, which would ensure that developers’ fees are funnelled into neighbourhoods in need instead of wealthy ones. But his speech to the 800-member audience at the board of trade luncheon tells a different story:

A Rossi administration will pursue outsourcing, managed competition, alternative service delivery and the power of unleashed volunteerism to fundamentally change how the city provides services… That means selling off city assets like Toronto Hydro, and implementing a hiring freeze on all non-essential government services.

Rossi even poked fun at centrist Smitherman for commenting late on privatization front—”I want to welcome the recent conversion of front-runner George Smitherman to our way of thinking of this issue”—while his brand of pragmatism earns him props from the conservative bloggers at Alberta-based Western Standard: “Mr. Rossi, you may not be ‘right-wing’ but you are right.”

Perhaps Rossi is right—sorry, correct—about being pragmatic. He’s also a cyclist who opposes bike lanes on main roads. Perhaps this is why he seems like he’s backpedalling.

Don’t call me right wing, Rocco Rossi insists [Toronto Star]
Rocco Rossi isn’t “right-wing” he’s right [Western Standard]
Rossi Talks Efficiency [Toronto Sun]
Rossi pokes fun at Smitherman and Talks policy at board of trade [BlogTO]
• Is the city headed in the Right direction? [National Post]