OK, I get it. John Tory is not a Ford — but he is a Tory.
I have known John Tory for years and he can be a nice guy but he is a Conservative (large C and small c) through and through. Some will say that he is economically conservative but socially liberal. I will leave aside for a moment whether that is even possible anymore when most inequality is due to the conservative restructuring of the economy, favouring the rich over the rest of us.
It’s true that he is not a Neanderthal like the Ford Brothers. He will march in the Pride Parade and he won’t be in an international embarrassment, but he also won’t be a good mayor.
The only reason John Tory is out ahead is because his campaign managed to convince people that he is the only one who can beat Ford. I don’t believe it. If progressive women, people of colour and young people get out to vote, Olivia Chow can win.
Here’s why it’s worth it from a feminist perspective.
John Tory has a terrible record on women. As on most issues, he talks a good game but when it comes to doing anything, he is missing in action.
He was president and CEO of Rogers from 1995 to 2003 and on their board since 2009. Rogers has never been known as a good employer of women. They have only one woman out of 13 people on their executive staff and no people of colour — one of the worst records of any major corporation in Canada. There are four women out of 16 on their board, of which he is a member, but three of the four are from the Rogers family. Again, no people of colour.
When he was Ontario Progressive Conservative leader, his party had the worst record in the legislature for the number of women MPPs. While he pledged to elect more women, he failed to promote women running in winnable ridings.
Furthermore, in the election of 2007, he made a special effort to run against Kathleen Wynne, the only open lesbian at Queen’s Park. He lost. During that election, as PC leader, he announced a policy to provide funding to private faith-based schools that would have given public support to many openly homophobic and anti-female religious right organizations. Fortunately, he lost.
His party did elect one more woman in 2007 for a grand total of seven, but he then asked another woman to step aside so he could get himself a seat in the legislature, in a byelection. Again he lost.
To be fair, Tory has helped women through his generous philanthropy. Like many old school Tories, John Tory believes in charity as the way of dealing with “those less fortunate.” Cut taxes, reduce services and let charities pick up the slack. It’s noblesse oblige but it’s not social justice and it does not lead to equality.
The only quote I could find from Tory on women was his comment in 2014, advising females to join a golf club to get ahead. Perhaps he would argue that isn’t fair because he was a radio personality, but it shows how he sees the world from the position of an entitled middle-aged rich white man
He has never proposed a childcare policy — not when he was running for mayor in 2003, not when he was running in the provincial election of 2007, not as provincial leader of the Ontario Conservatives and not in his current campaign. In a Big Ideas response to the Toronto Star recently, Tory says he is for more childcare as long as the city doesn’t have to pay for it — which means it won’t happen.
Why would we settle in this election for someone whose major appeal is that he is not Doug Ford? We actually have a positive choice. Olivia Chow has a platform and a track record on fighting inequality. She keeps her word and knows both how to work with people and to make decisions.
Why would we settle for less? Don’t vote cynically, vote passionately.
Judy Rebick is an author and feminist activist. Twitter: @judyrebick.
This piece originally appeared in the Toronto Star and is reprinted with permission.
Photo: flickr/Olivia Chow