Giorgio Mammoliti is a craven opportunist. But rarely is that exposed in such a satisfying way.
John Tory isn’t exactly known for his rhetorical prowess. He gives a respectable speech on the chicken dinner circuit, but on the floor of Council he is frequently uninspiring. This was not the case when Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) decided to challenge him on road tolls.
Someone on Tory’s staff had clearly prepped the mayor for the very high likelihood that Mammoliti would grandstand on the issue and confront the mayor to burnish his populist image (and get on TV). Being a predictable opportunist, Mammoliti did this and cited Tory’s history opposing road tolls in both the 2003 and 2014 mayoral elections. Fair enough! The mayor did oppose road tolls when he ran for office, and now he supports them.
Mammoliti went on, saying that Tory should either wait for the next election or should step down. It was the latest salvo in the one-man campaign Mammoliti has led against “Tory Tolls” and “Toonie Tolls,” complete with unfurling a banner over an expressway to garner media attention.
But wait! This all sounds familiar! In the exchange on the Council floor, Tory pointed out that Mammoliti once proposed $2 tolls on the Gardiner and DVP when he ran for mayor in 2010. At the time, the outspoken councillor told the Toronto Star that no one “would mind paying $2 [in toll fees] if it is going to something meaningful.” With support in the low single digits, Mammoliti dropped out of the 2010 mayoral campaign to run for his Council seat, which he won.
Faced with his own hypocrisy and opportunism, the councillor denied that he had ever supported tolls, but the Council chamber would have none of it, and gleefully heckled him. Save for one man, it was a rare moment of unity at Council.
Whether or not you support road tolls or John Tory, the whole episode was entirely satisfying to see Mammoliti humiliated and exposed for his grandstanding ways.
Giorgio Mammoliti would later apologize for his outburst and conceded that he did in fact propose road tolls during his 2010 mayoral campaign. However, he clarified that he meant to toll new lanes that would be built on top of the existing Gardiner.
The package of revenue tool votes, including road tolls, passed 32–9. Mammoliti voted in dissent.