Five things we learned at John Tory’s campaign launch
John Tory held his official campaign launch on Wednesday evening, signalling the start of formal hostilities between him and the four other major candidates in the 2014 mayoral campaign. Here, five things we learned while we were there.
1. He can pack a room
The Polish Combatant’s Hall on Beverley Street isn’t a very large venue (its website says the main hall can hold a maximum of around 250 people), but it was, at least, packed—like, undergrad-bar-on-St.-Patrick’s-day packed. A rival campaign with no scruples about dirty tricks could probably have cleared the place with a call to Toronto Fire Services.
2. His great-granddaddy was a dirt-farming insurance salesman
Politicians love using their personal stories to connect with voters. Specific mention of Tory’s time as an executive and as a Progressive Conservative leader was sparse in his kick-off speech, though. Instead, he told some family anecdotes that seemed designed to counteract his patrician image. “Down east,” he told the crowd, “my great-grandfather Tory dropped out of school in grade eight so that he could work on a Nova Scotia dirt farm, to put the money together to help his two younger brothers get educated. He never did go back to school, but he came here to Toronto and taught himself how to sell life insurance.”
3. The hunt for city hall “gravy” isn’t over
To win this election, Tory is going to have to capture a lot of votes that may otherwise have gone to Rob Ford, and he seems to know it. Part of his speech was devoted to reassuring voters that he’ll be tougher on bureaucratic waste than Ford ever was. “I simply refuse to believe statements that suggest that all of the waste has been found at Toronto city hall,” he said. “That is never, ever the case in big, multi-billion-dollar organizations with thousands of employees. I know that from experience.”
“Using my unique experience running large and complex organizations, I will find the waste in our city government and put our city’s operations on par with the most efficiently run cities anywhere,” he added.
4. He wants to be seen as the “moving forward” candidate
Much of Tory’s speech seemed intended to establish himself as a moderate alternative to other, supposedly-more-extreme mayoral candidates.
“Now, Olivia Chow,” Tory said at one point, “she’s hoping that the natural outcome from four years of Rob Ford will be a pendulum swing, a big pendulum swing that takes the city back to its free-spending ways and days.”
And then, mixing his metaphors a little: “I believe, as you do, that what our great city needs, like any vessel in rough waters, is not a hard turn of the rudder to the right, or a hard turn of the rudder to the left, but it needs a course correction brought about by a new captain.”
And later, the rousing slogan: “I am the only candidate that will move Toronto not right, not left, but forward.”
5. Karen Stintz and David Soknacki aren’t on his radar
Tory didn’t mention either candidate during his kick-off speech, leaving the impression that he sees Rob Ford and Olivia Chow as his more immediate threats.