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Should John Tory buy some milk? He’s thinking about it

Talk-radio host John Tory, a former Rogers executive and provincial Progressive Conservative leader, is being pressed by his impatient supporters to run against Rob Ford for Toronto mayor in the October election. He says he is not yet ready to make an announcement.

The following transcript of a secretly recorded conversation may cast some light on his thought process. A man wearing a "spies do it under cover" button on the lapel of his trench coat dropped off a copy at The Globe and Mail. The exchange is between Mr. Tory and his wife, Barbara, who reached him during a break in his Newstalk 1010 show:

Barb: Can you get some milk on the way home? I checked the fridge and we're all out.

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John: I noticed that, too. I looked in the fridge and, you're quite right, there is no milk left. The question is what to do about it.

Barb: Can you get some?

John: Well, as you know, dear – and I thank you very much for the call, by the way; much appreciated – I'm all for milk. Good stuff, no doubt about it. Great for the teeth. And I'm all for teeth, too. Hard to do without teeth, though. Aunt Betsy once went through a whole plate of butter tarts without them, or so family legend has it.

Barb: Yes, so can you bring some home? We're out.

John: Well, as you know, I've often brought milk home in the past. When I was head of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, I sometimes stopped to get some on the way home from Queen's Park. So I'm on the record as being pro-milk in the fridge.

Barb (sighing): I'm going to ask you again, John. Can you please bring some home?

John: Well, let's talk this through. I certainly have nothing against the idea. And if I don't bring home the milk, who will? It's just one of those basic obligations that all citizens have to shoulder, no matter what their station in life (and I've been very fortunate, I'm first to admit). Many a time my father would say to me, John, get on your bike and run up to the corner for a quart of skimmed milk for your mother. And I'd do it, no questions asked, I can tell you. On the other hand, if I make a habit of stopping for milk on the way home, what happens to the poor milkman?

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Barb: John, they stopped delivering milk about 40 years ago.

John: Fair enough. I stand corrected. So it's not a question of employment.

Barb: No, it's a question of bringing home the damned milk.

John: Now, Barb, no need to raise your voice. One of the promises I made when I went into public life was to avoid the kind of shouting and name-calling that turns people off politics. There is no reason two people can't disagree without being uncivil. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

Barb: The milk. Can we get back to the milk?

John: What about it?

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Barb (through gritted teeth): Can … you … get … some?

John: I understand completely what you're saying. We need milk. I get that. I don't disagree. I wouldn't even be thinking of running for mayor if I weren't ready to take a stand on important issues of public policy.

Barb: Run for mayor if you want. Run for Grand Vizier, for that matter. Just bring home the milk.

John: Absolutely, but …

Barb: (hangs up).

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About the Author
Toronto columnist

Marcus Gee is Toronto columnist for the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper.Born in Toronto, he graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1979 with a degree in modern European history, then worked as a reporter for The Province, Vancouver's morning newspaper. More

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