John Tory's empty "plan" for Toronto
May 8, 2014

John Tory's empty "plan" for Toronto

Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory has penned an op-ed in the National Post claiming to explain what his plan is for Toronto. Usually politicians spend most of their campaigning time spewing platitudes that are cute, but offer little insight into what they actually plan to do. Usually, however, buried somewhere - and you might think from the title that this op-ed might be the place - politicians do write down what their actual plan is. Unfortunately, the piece offers effectively nothing of substance. 

Tory begins and ends the piece with an appeal of geographic equality, lamenting that only some neighbourhoods, not all, seem to prosper in Toronto. In between are four "fundamental pillars" and four additional "areas of opportunity" that he lists, but without any shred of explanation how any of those eight things are going to make any change to the opening and closing issue of geographic equality. 

Of the four fundamental pillars, two are effectively empty. The last pillar says that because he, John Tory, is just such an amazing leader he will be a better "decision maker". What these decisions actually are, we don't know. The first pillar - education - is something that it out of the municipal jurisdiction so is a bit of a weird thing to include as your first pillar in a mayoral run. However we learn that because John Tory is just such an amazing leader, he will be much better at working with the provinces and the feds on eduction. To do what, we don't know.

The middle two fundamental pillars are at least normal conservative mayoral candidate planks. He wants to keep taxes low, obviously, although he gives no specification on what is or is not to be cut, except to say that they will increase with the same inflation that everyone pledges. And as every candidate must do, he cares about transportation, only with no detail yet coming on funding and only the vaguest claim of priorities for the Scarborough subway and downtown relief lines. 

So much for the fundamental pillars. Perhaps the areas of opportunity are going to be richer territory for detailed policy? They are a *bit* better. 

The third of these he gets no credit for: he laments about youth joblessness which is undoubtedly lamentable but offers no plan to ameliorate the situation. And the first is standard conservative political fare: eliminate red tape, in this case for business permits. It's an easy issue to fearmonger about but harder to say there is much possible benefits here. 

His second area of opportunity consists of consolidating several business facing City of Toronto agencies with different, but perhaps overlapping, mandates. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but hey, it is an idea! It is an actual point on an actual plan. So he passes this rather low standard on this one point. 

Finally, he makes an appeal to "smart-city technology" for traffic management energy conservation and the like. It sounds awesome, and it is meant to sound awesome. But it comes with no details and no funding plan and is probably one of those pie-in-the-sky things one can say that make us dream of a cool futuristic city running efficiently on smart technology with no meaningful way to actually get there. 

In short, John Tory's plan for Toronto is far from that. It is an appeal to a few common conservative talking points, to his own self proclaimed awesomeness as a "leader", and a thin splattering of random ideas without meaningful details. If he wants to present himself as the more substantive version of the conservative Rob Ford, he is going to have to do something more than that. 

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