In his latest press release, Mayoral candidate Jonn Tory takes aim at Olivia Chow’s history of spending money as a politician. Matt Elliott took a good look at the accuracy of those claims, but the one thing that stood out in Tory’s release is the dreaded accusation that Olivia Chow is a Career Politician.
“Toronto needs a mayor with experience, fiscal common sense, and restraint – not a career politician who has been living off the public purse for three decades.”
We can probably agree that Olivia Chow is a Career Politician – she was elected as a school trustee in 1985, a Toronto city councillor in 1991, and a member of parliament in 2006. Is it inherently bad to work in politics for your entire career? Is it somehow improper that the people of Trinity-Spadina have spent 25 years saying “we want this woman to represent us” at multiple levels of government? Well, perhaps; you could make some solid arguments about the difficulty of unseating incumbents at the local level.
However, let’s hope Tory applies his disdain of Career Politicians equally to potential council allies such as Frances Nunziata (first elected 1985), Ron Moeser (1988), John Parker (1995), Raymond Cho (1991), and Norm Kelly, who has been an elected official since 1974.
But more importantly, perhaps we should ask why John Tory doesn’t consider himself a Career Politician. Here are some notes about John Tory’s career:
- From 1981 to 1985, Tory served in the Office of the Premier of Ontario, Bill Davis as Principal Secretary to the Premier and Associate Secretary of the Cabinet.
- Tory later served as Tour Director and Campaign Chairman to then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and managed the 1993 federal election campaign of Mulroney’s successor, Kim Campbell.
- In 2003, Tory ran for Mayor of Toronto. He finished 2nd behind David Miller.
- In 2004, Tory ran for, and won, the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
- In 2005, Tory ran in a by-election for a seat as the MPP for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey. He won the seat.
- In 2007, Tory’s Tories lost to Dalton McGuinty’s liberals, who won another majority government. Tory was unable to win his own seat in his home riding of Don Valley West.
- In 2009, a PC MPP resigned her seat in Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock to allow Tory to run. He lost the by-election, and resigned as PC leader shortly thereafter.
- In 2010, he did not run for anything. Lots of people talked about him running for mayor, though.
- In 2014, he decided he would run for Mayor of Toronto again.
John Tory has been working in the highest levels of Canadian politics since the early 1980s. He’s spent large parts of the last 10 years campaigning, which suggests that Tory would like to have a career in politics. The only thing that has prevented John Tory from becoming a career politician is the fact that he’s never been able to win an election.
But the interesting thing that becomes clear is that Tory has only ever run to be the top politician: Mayor of Toronto, and Premier of Ontario. Tory has never run to be a school trustee, a city councillor, or even a simple MPP. Others have pointed out that, historically, mayoral candidates without council experience haven’t done well in elections, but one wonders what this says about Tory himself. John Tory has never expressed much interest in being a part of government; he simply wants to be in charge of it.
If John Tory isn’t a Career Politician, what is he? Taking another look at his resume, it seems like the next best option is Career Rogers Employee. Good luck campaigning on that.