By TOM GODFREY
Incoming Toronto mayor John Tory could set his sights on Calgary counterpart Naheed Nenshi, who is on a short-list of candidates to become the world’s best mayor.
The popular Nenshi, whose parents are from Tanzania, is among 25 finalists from around the world nominated for the prestigious title of World Mayor 2014.
The World Mayor Prize takes place every two years to select a mayor who has made outstanding contributions to his community and has a vision for urban living. It has been awarded since 2004 and a winner is in the process of being selected.
Nenshi, a Muslim, is known for his honesty and integrity. He gained tremendous respect from Calgary residents for his handling of last summer’s Alberta flood and blackouts.
Back here at home, Tory is starting out with a clean slate and can become as great a leader as Nenshi. Tory is a good listener and has the respect of most Toronto residents.
He is committed to ending the skullduggery, badmouthing and partisan politics that plagued Rob Ford and kept our great city from charging ahead.
Many of us reporters have covered daily scrums from outside the Mayor’s office. Back then, it seemed like City business was being run from outside Rob Ford’s office, rather than in Council Chambers. Thank goodness that era is gone.
These days the lights in a 15th floor office at City Hall have been burning overtime as Tory and his handlers select staff, make key appointments and are briefed on simmering issues. He plans to be ready for business when sworn in as our 65th mayor next month.
Tory plans to hit the ground running and has declined an invitation to appear on the Jimmy Kimmel TV show.
“I am a politician and I am not in show business,” he said. “I am not like the last guy.”
All this is encouraging for city residents since most newly-elected politicians would be vacationing down south to relieve pre-election stress before taking the Oath.
Not Tory. A day after his win, he was at City Hall at the break of dawn working on transition plans.
This goes to show that the former Rogers executive means business and is eager to return this City to its prominence in business and culture.
One of Tory’s first tasks is to try and return a feeling of pride and ownership in our City after four years of lackluster leadership and bitter division among councillors.
He wisely included mayoral rivals Doug Ford and Olivia Chow in possible leadership roles, because they bring great ideas to make Toronto better.
Residents of this City are tired of the divisions under Rob Ford and are in a healing mood. They have placed their trust in Tory, who has already said he will bring people together.
Tory has worked hard, is learning the issues and is not vindictive. He is capable of uniting and getting the best from councillors through mutual respect.
Ford was divisive, did not like the ideology of some councillors and refused to work with them on important issues.
Tory has repeatedly said he can work with politicians of all parties to make Toronto better. He is willing to go to Queen’s Park or Ottawa cap-in-hand to seek support for projects, like SmartTrack, that is his calling card.
Tory is a quiet guy, who likes to study issues and seek quorum on Council. He is not flashy and loud as the Fords, but can get the job done through leadership.
I think he will serve all communities well that make up this great city. I have seen him walk through public housing in Malvern, Jane and Finch and other hotspots. He may be rich, but did learn a lot about our communities and their needs during the campaign.
There is no doubt that we will experience a more civil Toronto, where City business will get done with little grandstanding and name-calling that has dominated Council Chambers for years.
And if Tory plays it right, he may just be able to follow Nenshi and be in the running for world’s best mayor in time.