Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is there T.O. in John Tory?

Royson James had a column on Monday in which he asks "Where's the T.O. in Tory?"

He criticizes John Tory for not voting for the New City of Toronto Act. As I mentioned earlier, the Toronto Star is so eager to trumpet their acheivements that they insist on equating this relatively minor bill with the New Deal that they were earlier campaigning for. John Tory's valid criticisms of this point are brushed aside in the middle of all this self-congratulation.

Yes, James is right to say that if Tory thought the bill was positive but insufficient he should have voted for it and campaigned for more. And yes, I do wonder what other reasons Tory had for voting against this bill.

But, John Tory is exactly right when he says:

Passing this bill without addressing Toronto's real financial issues represented the easy way out, weak leadership of the highest order.

Okay, maybe not weak leadership "of the highest order", but it is rather lame.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Mr. Tory, as a mayoral candidate and as provincial Opposition Leader, has been a strong booster of a "new deal" for Toronto, including added powers to make its own decisions and a promise to rebalance the fiscal relationship of "who does what" with the province.

Tory understands that what Toronto needs is a reversal of the Harris-era downloading, which inappropriately shifted some responsibilities onto municipalities. Having the power to put in speed bumps without provincial permission is nice, but doesn't represent a "new deal". Even though reversing downloading would be the right thing to do, Dalton McGuinty can't and won't do it because it would be another hit on his budget.

As for whether or not a Premier Tory would be good for Toronto, we'll have to wait and see how his election platform shapes up. It's easy for him to talk now.


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