For any of those wondering why John Tory is such a miserably incompetent politician, here is a steaming fresh example:
In a bid to reduce policing costs in the city, Tory on Monday said he is “formally” asking Premier Kathleen Wynne to amend provincial laws to allow photo radar in Toronto.
“Give us legislative freedom to do a couple of things that I think are going to be very fundamental to the modernization of policing and to the addressing of the police budgetary concerns,” the mayor said at Queen’s Park following a 40-minute meeting in the premier’s office.
Tory said he is seeking “broader latitude than we have today to use technology, especially when it comes to things like traffic management.”
Rob Ford might have spent his evenings staggering down the Danforth drunk as a lord, yet even at his most inebriated he never would have floated an idea this stupid. Those with longish political memories - which should include John Tory - will recall that Bob Rae of wretched memory imposed the idea of photo radar in the mid-1990s. The idea was so universally loathed that it helped catapult Mike Harris from third party leader to the Premier's office in 1995. His immediate scrapping of this blatant money grab was probably the last and only thing he did that was not incredibly controversial.
So naturally the most inept prominent politician in Ontario woke up one morning and said to his staffers: "Hey remember that terrible idea Bob Rae had? No, the one that EVERYONE absolutely hated? Yeah, let's do that." My suspicion is that while Premier Wynne is ever willing to milk the productive citizens of the province, she is also politically clever enough to avoid handing the opposition PCs an instrument this blunt. Of course the wording of the request is very careful. Mayor Tory isn't asking that photo radar be imposed on the whole province, simply that he specifically be allowed to shaft the drivers of Toronto. It's a subtle distinction that will - if Patrick Brown isn't completely stupid - be ignored in the 2019 batch of attack ads.
We know that John Tory has the most tinny of tin ear when in comes to understanding the electorate. This is the most recent and lamentable example. What is fascinating is seeing the mind of John Tory work, the intricate balance of gears and levers that spin so very quickly in the wrong direction. Like the finest Swiss movement the Tory watch is unfailing accurate. Unfortunately the numbers on the dial are completely wrong.
To understand the logic of John Tory you must understand the man himself: An establishment technocrat who graduated from the right schools, made the right connections and has bounced from senior appointment to senior appointment with little more than a shoe shine and an appropriately engaged smile. He is Justin Trudeau with a slightly higher IQ and a far better CV.
While to ordinary sentient mortals the idea of raising photo radar from the political dead is - oh to put this tactfully - monumentally stupid, for John Tory it makes perfect sense. The soul of a technocrat is driven toward order. When he looks upon a city, province or nation he does not see millions of individuals with different dreams, hopes, talents and capacities but a flow. It is a flow of numbers, a stream of warm bodies being moved across vectors toward appropriate public policy goals. To the common man the car is freedom and independence, to the technocrat it is cumbersome chunk getting in the way of efficient flow. If tomorrow all private cars were banned in major Canadian cities, the residents herded onto public transport like cattle, this would be a great victory for flow. The greater good - as defined by the technocrats - would be enhanced.
Unfortunately for the technocrats - John Tory included - Canada is still a semi-free country. Sure a man can have his life ruined by making a slightly inappropriate joke about lesbians or Muslims, but woe betide the politician who will try to deprive the humble Canadian of his castle on wheels. Photo radar has very little to do with public safety. It is well enough understood that politics plays as great a role as physics in determining speed limits. People tend not to feel terribly guilty about violating an arbitrary rule. They also tend to view its enforcement as a power grab or a shakedown scheme. This is something Toronto's accidental mayor should keep in mind.