John Tory officially launched his mayoral campaign Wednesday with a speech in downtown Toronto Wednesday night that focused on subways and fiscal responsibility – and took a few swipes at Mayor Rob Ford along the way.
"I love Toronto. It's been home my entire life," Mr. Tory said at his campaign kick-off event at the Polish Combatants' Hall. "Running for mayor is an opportunity for me to do something I love, with people I love, for a city I love and care deeply about."
Mr. Tory registered his nomination to run against Mr. Ford and a crowded field of others on the right – including Karen Stintz and David Soknacki – late last month.
Former NDP MP Olivia Chow has also submitted her nomination, forming a heated race to unseat the scandal-plagued mayor. Ms. Chow held her own launch event – attended by several hundred people – at a crowded downtown church last week.
The former radio personality and leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party emphasized transit in his speech, repeating his vow to build both a downtown relief line as well as the Scarborough subway extension at the same time. "I will not bring the Scarborough subway decision back for further debate," he said – a jab at Ms. Chow and Mr. Soknacki, who have both voiced their support for light-rail transit in Scarborough instead of subways.
Mr. Tory also spoke about one of Mr. Ford's key issues – efficiency at city hall – pledging to "find the waste in our city government and put our city's operations on a par with the most efficiently run cities anywhere."
The mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have accused Mr. Tory of being the "elite" and being part of the out-of-touch "establishment." But the former Rogers CEO did his best to play down his wealthy background Wednesday night, instead describing how his great grandfather arrived in the country well over a century ago "with next to nothing" and started a trucking company. "Our family is but one example of how Toronto rewards those with very modest beginnings, but very big ambitions," he said.
And though Mr. Tory never directly addressed the ongoing drug and police scandal surrounding Mr. Ford, he did allude to it, saying that the mayor has "exhausted the goodwill" of Toronto.
"Four years later Rob Ford has disappointed almost everyone with his behaviour, including in particular his almost complete unwillingness or inability to work with others."
Mr. Tory ended by speaking about the lessons he's learned from his failed political runs in the past. In 2003, he ran in the mayoral race and lost to David Miller. And in 2007, he lost the Don Valley West provincial race against Premier Kathleen Wynne.
"I've experienced defeat. I've been knocked down and gotten back up. I'm not perfect but, unlike some others, I will never be content with that fact" – a dig at the mayor, whose consistent response to drug allegations has been to say, "I'm not perfect."
"Give me your trust, and I will give you my best, my very best," Mr. Tory said. "For the love of Toronto, we must and we will go forward."