John Tory issues a mayoral “code of conduct” that’s really an elaborate burn on Rob Ford

John Tory issues a mayoral “code of conduct” that’s really an elaborate burn on Rob Ford

(Image: Tory: Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Ford: Christopher Drost) (Image: Tory: Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Ford: Christopher Drost)

In one of the weirder moments of the 2014 mayoral campaign so far, John Tory gathered reporters this morning to announce the release of his personal “code of conduct.” It’s a literal ten commandments of mayoral “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots,” all seemingly reverse engineered from Rob Ford’s worst blunders.

Here’s commandment number two:

I will show up for work each day to get things done, and I will do this in a transparent manner. This includes keeping a weekly schedule that is public and easily accessible.

And so John Tory’s guarantee to you, the taxpayer, is that he’ll do his job in a way that makes it obvious he’s actually working, and not off, say, inspecting piles of dirt somewhere.

And then there’s number seven:

I will always treat city staff with respect and professionalism. A Mayor can be tough and decisive without being overbearing and brash.

In other words, John Tory promises not to demoralize city staff by implying that they’re no-good freeloaders suckling from the public teat, or by firing them for disagreeing with him.

Obviously, none of this would have been particularly revolutionary before the ascent of Rob Ford. The list is one of the most concerted attacks on his record we’ve seen so far in the campaign. With a few exceptions, the candidates have avoided direct criticism of the mayor, preferring instead to issue constructive policy ideas, or fight among themselves. Last week, Tory explicitly promised not to make political use of Ford’s “personal issues.”

Tory’s code actually does have a couple of constructive ideas within it. Items nine and ten make two fairly specific campaign promises. Tory says he’ll introduce “real penalties” for officials who abuse the public trust (a reference to the many times Ford has violated city council’s code of conduct without consequence) and he also promises to make union representatives register as lobbyists before talking to city politicians, which they currently don’t have to do under most circumstances.

Mayoral candidates normally don’t feel compelled to make a show of being aware of the existence of professional ethics, but this election is a strange one. It’s bound to get stranger.