We’ve said before that former premier Mike Harris is politically toxic in this city, but we’ll eat our words if this latest move pays off for George Smitherman. Thirty-eight prominent Tories, including ministers from the Harris government, have signed an open letter to Toronto conservatives telling them it’s OK to vote for the Liberal in this race. We’ve been assured that this is not a joke.
From the Smitherman camp’s press release:
We’re conservatives. He’s a Liberal. Thankfully in municipal politics, party lines don’t get in the way of supporting the best candidate for the job. And we believe, hands down, that George Smitherman is the only one who can finally fix City Hall and get it focused on serving us as taxpayers.
George Smitherman has proven he has what it takes to make the tough decisions and effect real change. While in government, George won over his harshest critics by showing he could get results – he reduced wait times to the lowest in Canada, he forced hospital budgets under control when everyone said it couldn’t be done, and he saved almost $600M every year from Ontario’s drug budget. Those are real, tangible results that deserve credit.
Yesterday was also a good day for a simpler, brasher form of conservative insurgent down in the U.S., making us wonder if Rob Ford—who’s already been compared to Sarah Palin—is Toronto’s version of the Tea Party, running as much against the Tory old guard as Smitherman.
The signatories aren’t B-listers, either. Isabel Bassett (Harris’s minister of citizenship, culture and recreation) is on this list, as are Dan Newman (Harris’s environment minister), Charlie Harnick (Harris’ AG) and Tory senator and F-bomber Nancy Ruth. But we couldn’t help but notice one glaring absence on the list of former provincial Tories who have had a prominent role in Toronto politics: John Tory.
So why isn’t Tory on the Tory list? “No, they didn’t ask me to add my name. I don’t currently plan on endorsing anyone for mayor,” Tory told us last night while driving. (It sounded like he was on a headset, officer.) “I’ve endorsed several council candidates—I’m on my way to endorse one now—but I’m not endorsing for mayor.” Tory added that he hasn’t ruled out endorsing someone, and that one campaign has in fact asked for his endorsement, but then he started getting cagey and playing the pronoun game. We’ll leave it up to you to sort that one out.
• Why We Support George – Tories for George [George Smitherman for mayor]
• Tories back Smitherman [Toronto Star]
• Prominent Tories sign open letter for Smitherman [Globe and Mail]
• Tories endorse Smitherman for Toronto mayoralty [CBC News]
• Why Tories Support George Smitherman [Torontoist]
• Tories Give Smitherman The Thumbs-Up [CityNews]
• Group of prominent Tories back Smitherman in mayoral race [CP24]