Mayoral candidate John Tory refused to attend two debates: one on Monday, September 15, the other on Tuesday, September 16.
Tory, whose skill set includes snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, dodged Monday’s debate organized by two groups, TTC Riders and the Ryerson Student Union who were furious at the candidate’s disrespect. Transit, the city’s number one issue was the debate topic. Could it be that Tory, whose transit plan fits on the back of a napkin, fears that it faces shredding?
Tuesday’s cancelled debate was organized by York Quay Neighbourhood Association, Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association (representing 10,000 residents) and the Waterfront Business Improvement Area. The debate was three months in the planning and Tory walked away from it the day before it was scheduled. Showing a distinct lack of leadership, Tory refused to debate a second major issue: Toronto’s Waterfront.
Tory’s explanation for dropping out of the debates is that Doug Ford’s entry in the mayoral race means that it has entered a new phase.
Others believe that his transit plan would wither under scrutiny and that his position, best described as wait and see, on the Waterfront and the expansion of the island airport spells tacit support for the port authority’s and Porter’s plans for jets. At one time, according to a NOW Magazine article Tory’s website showed his position on airport expansion. Now the link, http://www.johntory.ca/billy_bishop_statement, leads to “Page Not Found”. Eerily, the promises, “A More Liveable Toronto, A More Affordable Toronto, A More Functional Toronto”, on his home page fail to mention the Waterfront.
Perhaps Mr. Tory won’t reveal his position on airport expansion in deference to the Ford doctrine on the city’s conflict of interest rules: ride roughshod. After all, his son runs a business out of the island airport. Porter Airlines is one of his clients and his son, John Tory Jr., sees no conflict if his father becomes mayor and votes to support expansion. Neither does the candidate’s spokesperson Amanda Galbraith. As NOW Magazine reports,
“But his campaign rejects the suggestion that he might find himself in a conflict-of-interest situation were he to become mayor. Asked if a future Mayor Tory would declare a conflict and recuse himself from Island-airport-related items, the campaign dismissed the line of inquiry.
” ‘Frankly, this question is ridiculous,” said spokesperson Amanda Galbraith in an email. “John Tory Jr.’s business interests are his own. They have nothing to do with John’s position on the airport. There is no conflict of interest.’ “
At one time, the last time he ran for mayor and lost, he supported expanding the number of flights per day. Currently, he prefers silence on the jets issue. Perhaps Mr. Tory fears repeating one-time mayoral candidate Barbara Hall’s crash and burn on the Waterfront. So, as corporate vultures circle the airport, John Tory remains non-committal.
Or does he?