John Tory Plays Twister
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John Tory Plays Twister

Mayoral campaign mocks Chow, manages to draw attention to Tory's own reputation for flip-flopping.

Photo from John Tory Campaign Twitter account

Photo from John Tory Campaign Twitter account.

John Tory wants you to know he’s serious about this city’s transit system. If you’re willing to listen, he’ll happily tell you that we need to move beyond the politics of division and go not left, not right, but forward, toward a congestion-free city. And he will tell you that he’s the only candidate seriously committed to the Downtown Relief Line.

So to prove the seriousness of his commitment and call into question the transit commitment of a certain other mayoral candidate, today John Tory’s campaign team played Twister. Specifically, they played “Twister Chow,” a Twister edition they came up with in order to mock what they see as an inconsistent stance on the DRL from the candidate currently leading in the polls. That Olivia Chow has clarified her position in an op-ed went unmentioned, but perhaps it was hoped the sight of campaign adviser Nick Kouvalis contorting himself on a dotted mat would be enough to distract from that fact.

It was an odd media stunt for a candidate often accused of dithering and flip-flopping himself. Indeed, it was a reminder that Tory referred to the proposed Scarborough subway extension as “barely justifiable” on his radio show a few months ago, but now gives it a full-throated defence on the grounds that the City shouldn’t re-litigate its transit plans. At the same time, Tory has backed off from earlier expressions of support for LRT lines on Finch and Sheppard avenues and now says—in spite of his argument against re-opening the Scarborough debate—that he wants to wait until after the provincial budget is released to have a look at those transit routes.

Tory’s team might have enjoyed twisting (Twister-ing?) about Chow’s approach to the DRL, but Tory himself hasn’t outlined how he proposes the line should be funded. At this point in the campaign, with election day still six months away, it’s perhaps not surprising that most of the top candidates—with the exception of David Soknacki—are still light on policy details. But if Tory wants to prove he is seriously committed to the DRL, a substantive policy statement would be more to the point than a photo-op involving a parody version of “the game that ties you up in knots.”

Since his team’s board-game antics of the morning, Tory has released a statement about the speech Chow delivered today at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. In it, he suggests she would not build the DRL until 2031—in her speech, though, Chow stressed that it would be constructed “as soon as possible.”

Tory promises that he will deliver the DRL now, but he does not say when “now” is or what shape this delivery would take—which suggests he might be more interested in playing political games (or Twister) than in coming up with the solutions he says Toronto needs.