Tony Ianno, the comeback kid

Tony Ianno, the comeback kid

It’s March break week at city hall, which means all’s rather quiet in theclamshell. No matter—lots of other stuff to talk about, like federalpolitics, with a budget next Monday, and an election that could be as littleas five or six weeks away. You read it here first: Tony Ianno says he’ll beseeking the Liberal nomination in Trinity-Spadina again, in the hopes ofreclaiming the seat he held for about a dozen years before losing it to NewDemocrat Olivia Chow last year.

Many will consider this the comeback no one asked for. (Including someLiberals: At last December’s Liberal convention, Ianno lost in his bid tobecome party President.) But in his defeat last January, he actually talliedmore votes than in any previous election, including his four victories,making him the only incumbent candidate to increase his vote count and stillmanage to lose.

In the interim, on municipal election day last November, Ianno was thesecond-happiest person at Adam Vaughan’s victory party. It’s not becauseVaughan is a supporter; in fact, Vaughan intends to stay out of the federalrace completely. “I don’t believe party politics has a role at city hall,”he says. “Aside from raising issues with the candidates, I won’t beinvolved.” That said, a number of regular Ianno volunteers worked onVaughan’s campaign, and his victory over the official NDP candidate, HelenKennedy, was a big blow to Chow, who will not be able to count upon theorganizational help of the ward’s city councillor during the campaign.

Ianno is also no doubt hoping that the Island Airport issue has beenneutralized, at least to a degree. The Tories studied the possibility ofshutting down the Port Authority, then decided not to, which is avindication of sorts. What’s more, a libel suit filed by the Port Authorityhas hampered Community Air, the citizens’ group that opposes the IslandAirport and has long been a thorn in Ianno’s side. They recently issued arelease announcing a press conference to “outline that in spite of attemptsto resolve the libel suit against itself and some of its members, theToronto Port Authority are continuing legal action.” One day later, a secondrelease announced that the press conference had been “postponed untilfurther notice.” When headed before the courts, silence is golden. No doubtit’s golden for Ianno too. Meanwhile, Vaughan is stealing everybody’sthunder on the Island Airport issue, with his plans to narrow the southerntip of Bathurst Street, which would sod over traffic lanes currently used bycars queueing for the airport ferry.

None of this turns the tide in Ianno’s favour. Chow is a formidablepolitician and excellent campaigner who now holds the advantages ofincumbency. Still, a grudge match between these two tiny titans would likelybe another nasty nail-biter. I can hardly bear to watch, but I can’t lookaway either.

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