Whither the wind

I like John Tory. I voted for John Tory. And I sure am happy to see the backside of Rob Ford. But I wonder: do we know who we’re getting as mayor with John Tory? A breath of fresh air or same old same old.

In his first few weeks in office, Tory has sent both signals. He’s talked about getting rid of gridlock, working with all members of council, helping the homeless, in fact there’s no matter too small for John Tory to tackle. On the big issues, however, I sense backsliding, a direction you don’t like to see in someone this early in their elected term.

(I hereby declare a conflict of interest. Maybe ten years ago he and I talked about my helping him as a ghost writer on his memoirs. The idea went nowhere and he still hasn’t written them. He would say that he’s added several interesting chapters in the intervening time.)

In the seven weeks since John Tory was sworn in, he’s already broken two of his major election promises: no hike in TTC fares and keeping property tax increases under the rate of inflation. In both cases, the infraction is minor. Fares are up 10 cents, and the tax hike is only 0.15 per cent above inflation. Still, there’s a principle involved, and he at least bent it.

Moreover, Tory’s much vaunted support among Liberals at Queen’s Park is doing him little good. Provincial funding for Toronto is falling at the same pace as ever. Backstopping low interest rates on a loan hardly qualifies as a big boost.

No one, certainly not a politician, is ever what they seem. The question for the days ahead is this: How far will John Tory stray from the man we thought he was?

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