By RON FANFAIR
Former Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader John Tory has confirmed that he’s seriously considering throwing his hat in the ring in next year’s City of Toronto mayoral race.
“A number of city council members and political activists have contacted me and asked me to run,” Tory told Share last Saturday night before delivering the keynote address at an event to celebrate the achievements of two prominent Canadians and several Ghanaian nationals in the Greater Toronto Area.
“I get asked almost every day on the street and those are the people that I am most interested in because they are very frustrated as they think they are paying a lot more in taxes and getting less from the city. But they are even more frustrated by the fact that they see a city they think can be so much better…When you hear people pour out that kind of frustration, you should listen to them and give it a thought.
“While I hadn’t thought about returning to politics right away, the number of people who have expressed an interest in my doing it has caused me to think seriously about (it) and that’s what I am doing. I am very interested in giving it a very serious look.”
A supporter of former Mayor Mel Lastman, Tory ran in the 2003 mayoral race, finishing second behind David Miller and ahead of former mayor Barbara Hall, former councillor and ex-federal MP, John Nunziata and former city budget chief, Tom Jakobek.
He resigned as the provincial Tory leader last March after losing a by-election in a bid to regain his seat in the provincial legislature, and has been hosting a Sunday evening phone-in show on Toronto talk radio station CFRB over the past few months.
An advocate for the underprivileged and supporter of many initiatives and causes in the Black community, Tory said the city is facing some big challenges.
“I don’t think we have made anywhere near the progress we should in making sure that people have access to opportunity so that they can show what they can do,” he said. “We have got award winners here tonight in the Ghanaian community, but there are a lot of kids and families who do not have opportunities to get a summer job, there are not proper community facilities for them and we have not renewed their housing.
“Those kids are going to be denied the opportunity to be on a podium getting an award. That is the kind of thing I will like to devote myself to and one of the places you can do that – though not the only one – is as mayor. So when people say to me you should run, I thought, well, you know I better think about it because if I want to do something about these things I feel very strongly about, then that’s the place you can do it.”
In his keynote address at the ninth annual Ghanaian News awards, Tory noted that the Ghanaian community in Canada has made consistent and considerable contributions.
“You should be proud of that and the fact that Ghana shines like a beacon in Africa and the world as one of the most stable democracies,” he said.
In 1992, a constitution allowing for a multi-party system was approved in a referendum, ushering in a democratic era and the West African country is often viewed as a model for political and economic reform in Africa.
Ghana was the first Black African country to gain independence from colonial rule in 1957 and it was also the first country in sub-Saharan Africa where Europeans arrived to trade in gold and slaves.
Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine, who was unable to attend the event because of a prior commitment, and York Regional Police Chief Armand LaBarge were recognized with special awards.
Tory congratulated the award recipients, adding: “Chief LaBarge is such a wonderful example of pubic service and a great supporter of all things diverse in Toronto.”
Dentist and pilot Dr. Kwesi Baffoe was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award while hairstylist Rosie Agyemang and World Impact Church presiding Bishop Bob Tacky were honoured for Professional and Religious excellence respectively.
York University Ghanaian Students Association president Rita Aboraah, Ewe Canadian Cultural Organization former president Agnes Gaze, respected elder Nana Appiah Boateng and Elizabeth Osei Kwabena were recognized for community service and Kwabena Amo-Dwobeng, Reuel Dartey, Okyeame Badu and Elizabeth Berko were honoured for their contributions to the arts.
Harry Jerome award winner Vera Manu, Vivian Ntiri, Elise Ahenkorah and Emmanuel Appiah were awarded for academic excellence while Oduro Bediako, Veronica Molyin, Michael Ansu and M & J Tropical Supermarket owners Joseph and Mary Sakyi were honoured for entrepreneurial achievement.
Other winners were Peel Regional Police Service officer Eric Boateng, Toronto FC soccer defender Nana Attakora-Gyan, Ghanaian-Canadian Music Association vice-president Ralph Debra and the International Compassion and Relief Experience organization.