For years, Tory was known as a total political loser. Why recount all his losses? There were many. Today he is a loser again despite eking out a W against the crack mayor’s bro in 2014 and sleep walking to two more victories in quiet elections against low-profile candidates, the last of which in 2022 had the lowest voter turnout in any election since the 1996 Megacity amalgamation.
His out-of-nowhere resignation mere months after being handed “strong mayor” powers seems unthinkable. Usually, Kouvalis-led Conservatives operate an elaborate digital ratfuckery machine to brainwash and play dirty tricks, then cling to power afterwards at all costs, and even change the laws while in office to increase the likelihood of keeping it later. The idea that someone in 2023 would resign once having this power over an issue so small as “integrity” is astonishing.
Sure enough, Tory didn’t resign right away. No wonder some in his circle advised against resigning after he made the initial announcement. Ford, who privately arranged for Tory’s “strong mayor” power during the mayoral election but said nothing about it until his candidate won, took this occasion to support Tory and insult “leftists,” typical of that corrupt, illiterate and belligerent ape.
Apparently some closest to Tory insisted he step down, which is so incredible to consider that it makes me wonder if there’s more to this they didn’t want known. How can sex, even with a subordinate, be resign-worthy in 2023? People are dying in every direction, ecological collapse is gradually taking hold or worsening, and this ends a political career of a guy who had been pretty squeaky clean?
I knew Tory was a prude and repressed wasp, but is he really more prude than he is hungry for political power? Can anyone be that prude? I guess it’s possible!
The former city staffer he slept with went on to work for Rogers-owned MLSE to help get the city to host five games of the 2026 World Cup tournament, which Toronto will pay $300 million to host. MLSE insists she was hired on a merit basis, that Tory didn’t get her the job. Either way, the optics are not great, and Tory must have worried it’d look unkosher even if it wasn’t.
Tory refused to step down as a Rogers special adviser on the family trust, a position paying $100k annually. Rogers’ tentacles are so long, their involvement in the city so wide and entrenched, it was impossible for Tory to be mayor and work for Rogers without the appearance of many conflicts of interest. When questioned how he could be mayor and still collect a giant cheque for advising a telecom giant, he told a story about honouring the promise he made to old-time family friend Ted Rogers–essentially, he said loyalty to ruling class connections trumped his public obligations, in so many words.
To his supporters, he was the adult in the room who upheld the status quo in a palatable way for media and apolitical people who only follow politics distantly, if at all. Wealthy people loved him because he artificially engineered keeping their property taxes extra low, while making it seem like this sleight of hand was just the natural order of things, like the sun rising and setting every day and night. Plus, if they called 311 to complain about a pothole or anything, someone was dispatched right away to clean it up. The city did work for them, so no wonder they mostly loved him. I suspect they vastly underestimate how dysfunctional the rest of the city is.
Ford and Tory are both the elite of the elite, but Ford is comparably a coarse uncouth street brawler while Tory has always been posh and polished and groomed all along for this work. Ford is the bad cop, Tory the good cop. They may position themselves differently in their own PR, but both ultimately work for the same force and advance mutual interests, even if they have also seriously butted heads over the years. (The Ford family has serious rifts among themselves and with Tory that go beyond the scope of this article.)
Ford took federal money meant for public healthcare and used it to pay down the deficit for political purposes during a pandemic. It’s hard to say how many people in the city Tory presided over died needlessly so the provincial conservatives could torque the numbers and show economic indicators their base loves. Maybe the increased power he gave Tory helped smooth things over between them. I’m genuinely not sure. Just speculating.
Whereas Doug Ford was the Ford brother who lacked the people skills of his racist and misogynistic brother Rob, Tory seemed to be at least a normal person. He seems to embody the modern struggle between the personal and political in that one-on-one, maybe he was a nice guy. That there’s a gap, a chasm, between the goodness of his heart and the misery of his policy is not impossible to believe.
Galen Weston is reportedly a kind and chatty fellow when he encounters employees in the elevators. Maybe Tory is “nice” in this vein. Personally, I ran into John Tory of all places in New Delhi. I was supposed to interview him for TV but, like much at WION, things got botched. I wrote the questions my friend and colleague Daniele asked, and when I met Tory after and he realized he was unprepared to meet a journalist from Toronto that might ask him something, he looked instantly petrified and fled like Homer floating backwards through the bushes GIF. He could fake being normal better on camera and in person, and I think he had more capacity than Ford to be a normal human being. But what is that saying?
Tory adamantly supported police throughout their violent and super expensive crackdowns on homeless people in public parks. Tory spent millions forcing people with nowhere else to go to go elsewhere. The city falsely claimed most “evicted” people got safe shelter indoors elsewhere, but of course they didn’t. Most went to other parks or under bridges, others simply, tragically, and needlessly died. Tory was OK suing Khaleel Seivwright in 2021, a local carpenter who heroically took it upon himself to build tiny shelters for people trying to survive the Canadian winter during a global pandemic.
Tory spent money to ensure homeless people didn’t have somewhere to stay. If Tory was so concerned the “Tiny Shelters” were dangerous, as the city claimed, why was he so supportive of the city’s dangerous and over-crowded shelters?
Tory wasted millions to worsen desperate people’s crises at a time he was also crying poor. He arbitrarily set the property tax rate too low first, then worked backwards to set the budget, an old Rob Ford trick that makes defunding society seem fiscally inevitable, or at least prudent and wise, rather than what it really is, opting to be cruel and withholding.
Ultimately, John Tory governed badly by 1960s standards, but in 2023. If anything good happened in Toronto during his tenure, he resisted it, and it happened largely against his will. CafeTO and ActiveTO would never have been approved without the pandemic occurring, and even with it, the patio application is expensive and lengthy while many “bike lanes” are either car lanes with a bike painted in them, or they have plastic “bollards” designed to prevent cars from getting damaged by the bollards rather than cyclists from getting killed by the cars and their drivers.
Was he really the milquetoast, middle-of-the-road, sensible man he presented himself as? Only if we accept what he said about himself at face value. I don’t. Tory was more ferociously right-wing than people here claimed, but he was more media polished and better able to hide it.
Torontonians watching him resign wondered about his legacy. In 2014, “Smart Track” was the central plank of Tory’s mayoral campaign. Today, it doesn’t exist. No mega, or even minor, projects bear his signature. He paid for artificially low property taxes for homeowners by actively neglecting basic services non-wealthy parts of Toronto rely on, from Scarborough to Etobicoke to throughout the downtown core.
Last election, Tory critics made the incumbent mayor synonymous with uncollected garbage spilling out of city garbage cans. I took a picture of a TTC bus stop duct taped to a pole and countless people found similar forms of urban decay. The crumbling under Tory was that palpable. It’d be funny if it wasn’t depressing and sad. Sure enough, after years of austerity, the TTC is overcrowded and people understandably fear violence. Fares are rising, service is worsening. The city is broke and there’s no plan for improvement apart from asking higher levels of government for money and concealing the extent of the decay with gimmicky but elaborate and expensive PR.
Tory’s final act, to defy his own promise to resign to push through one more austerity budget, is the symbol and substance of everything wrong with him and his politics.
I’m thrilled he’s gone! It happens that after months of not writing here, I happened to write an anti-Tory post only the night before he resigned. The night he initially shocked everyone by announcing his intention to resign, the Leafs had a 3-0 shutout and the vibes in Toronto were, as they say, immaculate. Nights later when he listed the date of his formal resignation, Auston Matthews had an extremely sexy goal and assist in his first game back after three weeks of injury.
There are questions about the circumstances of Tory’s departure, but there’s no doubt he torched his reputation on the way out and I’m glad about that too. He never deserved a good reputation. We could have avoided all this by electing Soknacki in 2014! I love Toronto and hope the city turns around, but I hope Tory is associated with its current demise, and hope that Tory’s few late-era victories don’t obscure the reputation he developed over years as a total loser.