Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

John Tory for mayor? Maybe he should stay right where he is

By: Metro Published on Mon Jan 13 2014

There are lots of famous will-they-or-won’t-they stories. Sam and Diane on Cheers. Ross and Rachel on Friends. Sherlock and Watson on Sherlock. And, of course, in Toronto, we’ve got one of our own: John Tory and the mayor’s office.

It’s a courtship that’s played out in various forms for a decade, ever since the broadcaster and former Ontario PC leader made his first failed run at the city’s top job in 2003. In 2010, speculation that Tory would make another go at it dominated much of the mayoral race, causing big-money donors to hold off and overshadowing the platforms of the candidates who were actually running.

Four years later, as the city preps for another municipal election, the will-he-or-won’t-he speculation around Tory has revved up again. There was a minor brouhaha last week when false rumours began spreading on Facebook that Tory had announced he wouldn’t run. Tory had to quickly clarify things: He hasn’t, he said, made a decision yet as to whether he’s going to run. But he’ll let us know.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But the big question shouldn’t be whether Tory will run. The more important question is whether he should run.

On that question, I find it hard to see the big upside to a Tory candidacy. It’s not like we have a shortage of candidates. Left-leaners will very likely have Olivia Chow to rally around. Whoever’s left in Ford Nation by October will have their main man, assuming he’s not in jail. And if your politics lean centre-right, there’s Karen Stintz or David Soknacki, who’s put together a smart platform.

They’re all viable candidates. Tory, on the other hand, is well-respected but doesn’t have a great electoral history. His tendency to try to find middle-of-the-road solutions has led to him shooting himself in the foot on more than one occasion. After losing in 2003, he not only failed to lead the PCs to government but also dropped his targeted seat in the legislature to Kathleen Wynne. Then he somehow lost again in an attempt to win another seat in a byelection.

Maybe elections just aren’t for him. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that. Since hanging up his immediate political ambitions, Tory has become an incredibly important voice as chair of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance. He’s one of the few high-profile figures with right-wing cred to talk seriously about transit and the need for dedicated funding. He’s well-positioned to make big things happen whether he’s mayor or not.

So why rock the boat? If Tory is still conflicted about running this year, then he should take that as a sign that he simply shouldn’t. This election is way too important to be dominated by yet another will-he-or-won’t-he Tory story.

This post was originally published at on 2014-01-13T00:00:00.000Z

About the author

Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
Website / Twitter / Email Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott


Follow Me on Twitter

Recent Posts

Recent Comments