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5 things you didn't know about John Tory

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 21, 2014

toronto john toryJohn Tory is without a doubt the most politically experienced candidate among this year's mayoral hopefuls. Since the late 1970s, the wily conservative strategist and perennial business leader has held numerous high-profile positions, yet he has only held political office once, as an MPP from 2005 to 2007.

Tory got his start in politics while a student at University of Toronto Schools, a prep school affiliated with the university, when a friend convinced him to buy a $1 membership to the York Mills Young Progressive Conservatives Association. "It sounded like an interesting thing to do. He made it a story with a little intrigue. He made it all sound very exciting. If I bought a card, I could vote for this friend of his who was running for treasurer against this other fellow who was somehow bad news," he told The Star in 1983.

A socially-liberal conservative, Tory has run political campaigns at the municipal, provincial, and federal level since the 1980s, working under premier Bill Davis and later co-chairing Kim Campbell's disastrous 1993 election campaign. If he ever lags in the polls, Tory could perhaps listen to his own advice from 1985:

"50 per cent of the campaign takes place between Day 1 and Day 37, and 50 per cent takes place on election day. It doesn't matter how you've done during the rest of the campaign."

john tory suspendersHe liked leopard print suspenders
For a 1987 Toronto Star fashion feature, John Tory revealed his favourite fashion gifts--Oxford cloth button-down shirts--and was photographed in a pair of $30 leopard print suspenders. Handkerchiefs were Tory's least favourite: "I have yet to figure out what to do with 300 or 400 handkerchiefs," he said. "I once received a pair of pyjamas. That was the most unusual gift because I don't know what to do with them either."

He's the fourth John Tory in an unbroken line of five
John Tory's great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all called John Tory, and so is his son. Our John Tory's father co-founded the law firm Tory, Tory, Deslauriers and Binnington--one of the largest in Canada--and later became the president of Thomson Enterprises, the media company founded by Roy Thomson, now known as Thomson Reuters. Tory became a partner in the firm in 1981 when his father joined Thomson.

Was a key piece of the Progressive Conservative "Big Blue Machine" of the 1980s
In the 1981, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party had been in charge of the province close to four decades. That year, a 27-year-old Tory became executive assistant to premier William Davis, and later his de-facto spokesman. A 1982 Toronto Star profile called Tory a "workaholic whizz-kid." Davis quit in 1985, triggering the leadership race that left Frank Miller briefly in charge of Ontario. A Liberal-NDP coalition under premier David Peterson took over later that year.

He was once in charge of the corporation that redeveloped the Toronto harbourfront
Following the ousting of the Ontario PC party in 1985, Tory was appointed director of Harbourfront Corp., the crown agency tasked with redeveloping the city's waterfront along Queens Quay. He remained on the board during the controversial construction of several high-rise buildings within the corporation's one-mile area of focus. He left the position in the early 1990s and later become co-chair of Brian Mulroney's re-election campaign.

His election attack ads backfired spectacularly in 1993
When Brian Mulroney quit as Progressive Conservative leader in 1993, Kim Campbell took over as Prime Minister. As a result, Tory, who had previously worked with Mulroney, took responsibility for Campbell's election campaign that same year, crafting a series of attack ads that appeared to focus on Liberal opponent Jean Chrétien's facial paralysis to widespread criticism.

"He's the campaign manager, so he had final approval of the ads. As the person responsible he should turn in his resignation," said Hamilton-Wentworth Progressive Conservative candidate Ray Johnson at the time. Campbell and the federal PCs were obliterated in the election, losing all but two of the party's 156 seats.

BONUSES

David Crombie predicted Tory had a future in politics
David Crombie, Toronto's tiny, perfect mayor, was full of praise after Tory ran his successful (if not particularly challenging) 1976 re-election campaign. "He has all the graces an establishment upbringing can give him. But he was smart enough to know the world has something to teach him. He didn't just observe. I think he has influence to give in the future. The best way it could be directed is by an elected position. I'd be happy to run his campaign," Crombie recalled to the Toronto Star in 1983.

He narrowly lost out to David Miller for Mayor of Toronto in 2003
Following stints as the CEO of Rogers Communications, Chairman of the Canadian Football League, and high-level positions with the St. Michael's Hospital Foundation, United Way, and Mel Lastman election campaigns, Tory ran against David Miller in the 2003 mayoral election, eventually losing by about 35,000 votes or 5 percentage points. Following the defeat, Tory became leader of the Ontario PC party and later the chair of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.

Next week: 5 things you didn't know about Olivia Chow.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Discussion

28 Comments

matts / July 21, 2014 at 10:54 am
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"I once received a pair of pyjamas. That was the most unusual gift because I don't know what to do with them either."

He sleeps nude?
Rafa / July 21, 2014 at 11:11 am
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By far the best candidate for Mayor of Toronto. But I don't think he's done a good job marketing himself. Unfortunately, Ms. Jack Layton has more hype surrounding her.
Joey / July 21, 2014 at 11:43 am
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All conservatives need to know about this guy is that he has the same policies as Ford with slightly less bombastic and dumb-sounding rhetoric. Oh, and he's not a drug-addled, alcoholic, violent, emotionally unstable gangster.
H replying to a comment from Joey / July 21, 2014 at 11:51 am
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"All conservatives need to know about this guy is that he has the same policies as Ford..."

Reason enough not to vote for him.
Chester / July 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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All you need to know is he's not Rob Ford or Olivia Chow. He's a center-right candidate that would do wonders for this city. Every election people always go the complete opposite of what we've had. Extreme right Ford to Extreme left Chow. Make a smart choice not what the rest of the sheep are doing.
CBC vaults / July 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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Watch a CBC news report on the 1993 anti-Liberal attack ads Tory approved:

http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/prime-ministers/kim-campbell-first-and-foremost/is-this-a-prime-minister.html

"I think all the ads do is call into question - and it's a very legitimate question - Mr. Chrétien's competence, particularly on the economy but also in general terms." (John Tory quoted in the Toronto Star, October 16, 1993.)
Sammy Maudlin / July 21, 2014 at 01:53 pm
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All you need to know about John Tory is that he donated and supported Ford's campaign for mayor. I will never vote for him for this sole reason.
Neil / July 21, 2014 at 02:21 pm
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If you don't vote for him, you'll get candidate you REALLY don't want.
Soknaki4Life replying to a comment from Rafa / July 21, 2014 at 02:27 pm
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Soknaki is the smartest conservative running. Tory has "star power" that's it. Like Ford, he's popular because he has a public persona.
Tory's nanny / July 21, 2014 at 02:32 pm
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He dumb. Bad student.
Mr. Ed's Cat / July 21, 2014 at 04:32 pm
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Chow, chow, chow.
Moaz Ahmad / July 21, 2014 at 05:29 pm
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The approval of the attack ads on Chretien, the school-funding campaign promise and his support of Ford call into question both Tory's credibility as a political decision-maker and his understanding of what Canadians want (and don't want) from their politicians.

I'd rather have a mayor who stands on principle (even if I disagree with him or her) than one who is willing to maneuver in whichever direction that will help him win.

Sadly David Soknacki (probably the best candidate in this election) is not getting the attention he deserves.
Shane / July 21, 2014 at 05:33 pm
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The office of mayor is the only thing Rogers doesn't own in Toronto. Ford or Chow, or your money goes to the elites.
Robert / July 22, 2014 at 02:28 am
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"Most experienced candidate"?!

Is that a frigging joke? Olivia Chow did 14 years on city council, and 8 years in Ottawa.

Hey Mr. Tory, if you want to be Mayor, why don't you run for city council first and prove that you actually care about contributing to city government, instead of just lusting after the top job over and over again?
Steven / July 22, 2014 at 08:24 am
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Tory still can't shake the mess he created over at Rogers Cable with his NEGATIVE OPTION BILLING.

In the beginning of 1995, Rogers along with several other cable companies, added a number of new cable channels under a negative option billing plan. Subscribers opting out of paying for the new channels stood to lose much of their existing specialty channel programming. The participating cable companies were hit by both regulatory and public opinion backlash and ultimately were forced to split the negative-option channels into two separately-purchasable blocks, a move which Rogers had initially opposed as "not technologically feasible".
JamesVR / July 22, 2014 at 09:06 am
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Tory for mayor! Tory's getting myn vote.
Chris replying to a comment from Robert / July 22, 2014 at 09:07 am
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"Hey Mr. Tory, if you want to be Mayor, why don't you run for city council first and prove that you actually care about contributing to city government, instead of just lusting after the top job over and over again?"


You mean like Ford did? Clearly those 10 years he spent as a councillor showed him everything he needed to know about being Mayor and competently running the City.

Sorry, but I'm not at all buying the notion that having experience as a councillor will make you a better mayor - Ford's entire term as Mayor refutes that notion.

#FordMoreYears / July 22, 2014 at 09:11 am
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I guess Rob Ford is a qualified candidateby that logic, he's spent years on council and has actually been mayor. Ford More Years!
Henry / July 22, 2014 at 10:08 am
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I'm put off by his former position as CEO of Rogers alone. With the mess that Canada is in with this duopoly of service providers and all. Anything Rogers touches turns to cheese.
tommy / July 22, 2014 at 10:28 am
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On transit, he's just drawn yet another unrealistic line on the map, with only hope to get the plan done. I like Tory, but can't vote for him simply due to his unrealistic transit plan.
the lemur replying to a comment from Shane / July 22, 2014 at 10:45 am
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The Fords are just as much elites (multi-millionaire family business) as Tory. That's why they are/were buddies with him.

Reasons not to vote for Tory:

-no actual experience of being elected to anything
-dubious business ethics (negative option billing for cable, generally extortionate Internet rates)
-previous political ideas based on emotion/pandering (religious school funding, creationism in schools, idea that we need to hire more cops just because people 'don't feel safe', etc.)
Rabbi McDonald / July 22, 2014 at 03:11 pm
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Tory's family has a long history of anti-semitism-like the Bassetts and every other old tyme goyische shygutz/shiksa family/group. Long live the Granite Club! Ye-haw!
amy / July 22, 2014 at 05:27 pm
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John Tory will be our next mayor! We deserve him, Toronto needs him. VOTE JOHN TORY!!
Irwin Mimicuckoo / July 22, 2014 at 07:10 pm
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Mr. Tory doesn't know squat about Mimico. He don't know nothing about my cement plant, my backyard or my poor Mama. He also don't know nothing about my severe constipation. FIM!
#FordMoreStupid / July 22, 2014 at 09:58 pm
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Ford's IQ declines daily, even though "he's more popular with black people than Barack Obama.
#FordMoreBigotry / July 23, 2014 at 11:32 am
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Who doesn't he hate?
Ribby replying to a comment from Rabbi McDonald / July 24, 2014 at 11:42 pm
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bullshit you don't know what you are talking about. If you knew the family you would not be making those pathetic and wrong accusations. Shame on you.
Jason replying to a comment from the lemur / August 1, 2014 at 10:30 pm
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This deserved to be repeated:

Reasons not to vote for Tory:

-no actual experience of being elected to anything
-dubious business ethics (negative option billing for cable, generally extortionate Internet rates)
-previous political ideas based on emotion/pandering (religious school funding, creationism in schools, idea that we need to hire more cops just because people 'don't feel safe', etc.)

What has John Tory ever really done that's publicly commendable? As far as I can tell, not much. He's been born to privilege and expects us to roll over and be grateful. He won't get my vote.

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