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Waiting for "The Next Guy"

Yesterday's Now has some further analysis on the McGuinty-municipalities controversy earlier this week. (That link will expire next Thursday, although Now will probably have the article online somewhere.)

Part of what Don Wanagas writes is not at all surprising -- that Dalton McGuinty's move to step around Toronto and negotiate primarily with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is an attempt to avoid looking like he is focusing on Toronto too much, at the expense of other communities.

This is completely understandable from a politics perspective. While the City may have many reasons to justifiably believe that they need some special treatment -- to deal with special problems -- people elsewhere are not likely to see it this way. The way things have gone for McGuinty, where he (for whatever reason) has introduced a very unpopular new tax, this is not a good time for him to be seen as giving anything special to any particular location. (Even if he were just reversing some past mistakes.)

The interesting part of the article is what comes later. What surprised me was to read what some have been saying about John Tory. At least one City Councillor is already looking forward to seeing John Tory as the new leader of the Ontario Conservatives... either because he has already given up on McGuinty and is looking forward to the someone else, or because he is just hoping for some leverage to apply.

"I think he's just found himself a very good wedge issue into Toronto's provincial political scene," [Councillor Brian] Ashton said of Tory and the Grits' controversial municipal protocol. "I know this isn't the type of new deal Tory supports. All we've gotten from the Liberals so far is a new health tax and a lot of broken promises. What Toronto really needs are new partners, and we'll shop in any political store where we can find them."

Now, I think that John Tory is a good guy who cares about Toronto and knows it needs a better relationship with Queen's Park. He has a good relationship with David Miller, understands the urban agenda reasonably well, and has a record of promises made when he ran for mayor. But there is something funny about this hope for "the next guy". We have "the next guy" right now, and he seems to be having trouble. And there was nothing unpredictable about it. If John Tory can really do a better job, I'll be very impressed. The reality is he'll probably be constrained by the same sorts of political realities that face Dalton McGuinty.



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