Not any more

I’m not running for mayor of Toronto: John Tory

In Canada on August 6, 2010 at 09:01

John Tory gets fired up when I raise the integrity question late Thursday night on the phone. “If there’s one thing that I believe, it’s I get up every morning and focus first and foremost on whether I can look myself in the mirror. I’ve always been able to do that,” he said. “I was actually quite disappointed that people made it an issue of integrity.”

Mr. Tory announced — again — late on Thursday night in a statement that he won’t run for mayor of Toronto in the Oct. 25 election. He first announced he would not be a candidate on Jan. 7. But in the months that passed, people stopped him on the subway and on the streets to try to change his mind, he said. And when a number of supporters also joined the chorus, he decided to spend some time reconsidering his choice.

“I thought they were just being polite,” he said.

Rampant speculation swirled throughout the city. Would he or wouldn’t he? He had the support of a number of people, including his wife Barbara Hackett. He tried to keep his sons John and George, who both work on mayoral hopeful Sarah Thomson’s campaign, as seperate from his decision-making as possible. He asked practical questions, such as “who would run the campaign?” and “what are my chances?”

In the end, he asked himself: what do I want to do with my life? The answer, he said, was continue his work with the City Summit Alliance and Newstalk 1010. “If I’ve got those two opportunities, which very few people have, plus all the charitable stuff, you really want to change that?”

Mr. Tory said he still plans to be actively involved in the election, and is moderating three upcoming mayoral debates. He says he hopes the remaining candidates begin to debate serious questions about transportation, priority neighbourhoods, housing, crime and the city’s aesthetic instead of taking jabs at one another. “They spend endless amounts of time sniping at each other. It’s a waste of time,” he said. “Sarah Thomson and Rocco Rossi, they’ve presented transit plans for which they’ve been criticized by everyone. But they’ve answered the fundamental question, which is how are you going to pay for it? That’s a real legitimate debate that should be happening.”

He has no plans to endorse a candidate, he says, in typical nice-guy fashion. “I’ve tried to be really balanced [on my radio show]. I’ve interviewed them all the same way,” he said. “I try to be even-handed about not being critical of anybody two weeks in a row.”

Characteristically, Mr. Tory says he hasn’t ruled out a political bid of some sort for the future.

“I wouldn’t say I would rule it out. I have absolutely no plans, no aspirations, no thoughts, no invitations. I’m careful. Why would I say never?” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to present itself to you.”

Thursday night, other mayoral hopefuls reacted to Mr. Tory’s decision, and acknowledged his contributions to the city.

Rob Ford, currently the race’s frontrunner and who many have said would lose support if Mr. Tory decided to enter the race, told the National Post, “I appreciate his decision and putting all of the rumours to rest since John Tory is someone I have always had great respect for. His contributions through his radio program and the Toronto City Summit Alliance will continue to make him a great asset to our City.”

Former Liberal MPP George Smitherman, who’s neck and neck with Mr. Ford, tweeted: “I wish John Tory continued success with his many volunteer projects to make Toronto an even greater place to live.”

Reached late Thursday night, Rocco Rossi said he was pleased with Mr. Tory’s decision. “I’m delighted that he’s continuing to serve Toronto in the many ways that he does and wish him the very best with all of them,” he said. “He’s someone I’ve known for a long time, I ran his campaign [for mayor] in 2003, he’s someone who obviously I admire and consider a friend.”

Sarah Thomson, who stood perhaps to lose the most (including a campaign manager, Mr. Tory’s son) with an entrance by Mr. Tory, said last night she understands and respects his decision. “Mr. Tory gives so much to Toronto through his community work and the leadership role he plays in many community organizations and I hope he will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping Toronto’s future.”

Mr. Tory, who ran a dogged but ultimately unsuccessful campaign against mayor David Miller in 2003, later took on leadership of the Ontario Conservative party. He later lost his seat and the leadership in two by-elections. But many in Toronto were surprised and disappointed at the emotional January announcement where he stood to tell the city he planned to pursue other ventures and spend more time with his family, including his wife.

But polls continued to indicate that Mr. Tory would fare extremely well against the five opponents still in the race: Mr. Ford, Mr. Smitherman, deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, Women’s Post publisher Sarah Thomson and his 2003 campaign manager and Liberal fundraiser Rocco Rossi.

In recent weeks, friends have told the National Post that Mr. Tory was again mulling a potential bid. “I think he’s under tremendous pressure from a lot of people who are elected officials, community leaders, people on the street,” to enter the race, a Tory ally said last week. “I think he has a sense of civic duty that drives him.”

With files from Natalie Alcoba, National Post

Here is his full statement:

On January 7 of this year, I announced that I would not be a candidate for the office of Mayor of Toronto in the 2010 Municipal Elections.

In recent weeks, a very significant number of people, most of them average citizens from all walks of life, but also among them community and business leaders, elected officials and commentators, urged me to reconsider this decision. I could not ignore their request and I do want to say how much I appreciate the interest they take in their city and its leadership, and the faith they have in me.

While I am sorry to disappoint them, I have decided that the decision I made in January of this year will stand and I will not be a candidate in the municipal election to be held in October of 2010. The reason is simple: I believe I can continue to make significant and hopefully lasting contributions to the future of Toronto through the many projects and organizations I have involved myself in outside of public life.

Since January I have devoted a great deal of time to the Toronto City Summit Alliance as volunteer Chair. I believe more strongly than ever in the ability of that organization to bring together talented and committed people from all corners of the community to tackle our collective challenges, reinvigorate Toronto and return it to a position where it can lead by example. My position at the Alliance gives me a significant opportunity to help build a strong and fair city region in which every single citizen is respected and has genuine access to opportunity. Similarly, serving as Co-Chair of Diversecity will permit me to continue my longstanding involvement with some of Toronto’s visible minority communities.

I intend to continue to responsibly use my position as a broadcaster on Newstalk 1010 to encourage honest, intelligent debate on the real issues, at all levels of government and in other segments of Canadian society. I am disappointed in the fact that shallow slogans and posturing seem to be overshadowing a real, honest debate about many of the serious issues facing Toronto and I will be doing my part to try to change that in the weeks ahead.

I will also continue with my community work through my leadership positions with the Toronto International Film Festival Fundraising Campaign, the Yad Vashem Righteous Among Nations Dinner, the Writers Trust Annual Dinner, the City Film Project for young people at risk, Me to We Day for Free the Children, continuing active roles on behalf of St. Michael’s Hospital and the United Way, as well as my continuing involvement in various business assignments including my recent appointment to the Board of Directors of Rogers Communications Inc.

I would like to thank the media for their patience and courtesy during these past few weeks when more often than not I had no comment to make.

In the months and years ahead, I intend to be as activist a citizen as anyone can be. I love Toronto. It has provided me and my family with opportunity and a wonderful place to raise our children and grandchildren. I take it as one of my principal responsibilities to help ensure that every resident, without exception, can look at Toronto in the same positive light.

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