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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Tory's Chances
12/04/2004

I've been watching John Tory since the mayoral election, and have written more than my share of blog entries about him. Two reasons for it, I guess. First is that I liked what I saw of him on the campaign trail -- not nearly as much as I liked David Miller, obviously, but I did like him and would have voted for him over the other three. The other reason I keep writing about him is that, for a while, I was the number one Google entry for "John Tory", and that was kinda fun.

Today's Toronto Star has an article that indicates Tory is continuing to move ahead with plans to run for leader of the Ontario PCs. He is giving speeches, working on a campaign platform, and is expected to announce his candidacy towards the end of the month. I wish him luck, and think he has a good chance of winning.

Now, there will be those who will say that a Red Tory like John shouldn't be elected as leader of the party. They will point to Ernie Eves as an example of the reason why. They believe that the Conservatives lost this past election because they watered down their true medicine, and walked away from the Common Sense Revolution. They would have preferred Jim Flaherty as leader instead of Eves.

Throughout Eves' term in power, he was criticized by the hard right as being too soft. Supposedly he was alienating his base. When election time came, his lukewarm policies were indistinguishable from McGuinty's, so why not vote for the real thing?

But I don't agree with that interpretation of the events. Ernie Eves lost the election not because he had broken from the Harris tradition so much, but rather because he was still too associated with it.

The Tories were swept in the 416-area seats because of the Harris-Eves anti-city agenda. They lost the 905 belt because those voters were concerned about their kids' education and their environment. Overall, the Conservatives lost because people were concerned that they had cut government too much, to the point where services they valued were visibly eroding.

Since the election, Dalton McGuinty's reputation has come down a few notches. Nevertheless, I don't think Mike Harris or Ernie Eves' legacy has been helped, either.

So, back to John Tory. He will be challenged by his rivals within the party as "too liberal", but I think that he would represent a more promising future for his party than the likes of Jim Flaherty. On the other hand, even if he is elected leader, his chances of becoming Premier are not entirely self-determined. Despite getting off to an unpopular start, if Dalton McGuinty does a decent job over the next few years, I believe Ontarians would want to give him another term. First-term incumbents seem to have that sort of bias in their favour.


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