By TOM GODFREY
I have seen John Tory at least four times in events in Toronto during the last month. He is everywhere and his message seems to be slowly resonating with voters.
A hard-working Tory was among the many families and politicos attending the opening of a Rotary Peace Park in Etobicoke, about two weeks ago.
He is popular with residents, but not as famous as Mayor Rob Ford, who was also there but had people lining up to have their photos taken with him.
One family from Nigeria had waited for 15-minutes until the Mayor was free so they could get a shot with him.
Tory said he attends the events to learn about the community, meet residents and hear their concerns.
A Forum Research poll last week suggests Tory has increased his lead by 10 points over main rival, Olivia Chow, in the Mayoral race.
The new poll that was published in the Toronto Star found Tory had 35 per cent support, compared to Mayor Rob Ford with 27 per cent and Chow in third place with 25.
This is the third poll in a row to put Tory ahead of Chow. It appears to be more than a mid-summer political spike and Chow’s camp should be concerned.
The candidate with some of the best ideas, David Soknacki, is at five per cent, followed by Karen Stintz with four.
Tory’s smart transit plan seems to gaining steam with voters, many who, along with businesses, believe traffic congestion is a top priority.
He is hammering the benefits of his “SmartTrack” plan with a surface rail line that he claims will be built cheaper and quicker than subways.
You can say a lot of things about Tory, but he is not lazy. He had travelled to Etobicoke on this day to show his support and to seek votes, of course.
His approach to the campaign has been slow and methodical and shows he is not the flashy type in search of a quick headline.
Some say he was born a privileged kid with a silver spoon in his mouth and could have done anything he wanted. After all, he has tried three times unsuccessfully for public office.
It asks the question, why would anyone in their right mind want the responsibility and lack of sleep that comes withToronto’s top job?
Tory could have found himself an easy gig, like the one he had as a radio personality on CFRB. He could have also done the cottage scene or head toFloridain the winter.
Instead, he’s here talking about policy, smart transit, gridlock and the economy. We must give him credit for sticking his neck out and being subject to media abuse, when he could be sunning in Muskoka.
Tory being here also offers credibility and support to area residents such as Lilette Wiens of the Rotary Peace Park Rejuvenation Committee, who led a group to raise about $15,000 towards the park and children’s playground.
“I was raised in the area and we played in this park,” said Wiens, a sales rep for Bosley Real Estate. “We are giving back the same experience to our children that we had growing up.”
Wiens, like Tory, stood proudly beside the Mayor, dignitaries and area children as a ribbon was cut to re-launch the lakeside park.
The playground was funded by the Rotary Club in the 1930s. Back then the neighbourhood was filled with children of local factory workers who had little to do.