John Tory has now become the flaky friend that cancels on you last minute. He’s the friend that clicks “attending” to your birthday party on Facebook, but never shows up. He’s the friend who sends the “Sorry, I can’t make it” text while you’re already sitting at the bar.
But just like how we continue to make plans with our token flaky friend, we’ll still invite Tory to future debates; though we may bad mouth him behind his back, we’ll always forgive him and invite him out next time.
In short, Tory’s last-minute cancellation on the big transit debate Monday night won’t matter to voters, and it won’t make him any less likeable.
But it should. And students at Ryerson should hold him accountable.
Here are the facts: Monday morning, hours before Tory was scheduled to appear for a Q&A at Ryerson, he cancelled. That same day, he was set to debate one of the city’s biggest issues of the campaign, but dropped out — leaving Olivia Chow to “debate” on her own. Simultaneously, he pulled out of two other debates scheduled for later in the week.
His excuse wasn’t very good, either.
“We have entered a new phase of the campaign,” read a statement from his camp. “John has extraordinary demands on his time and, unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate every event and request.”
While it’s true that Tory can’t go to every debate he’s invited to, wouldn’t a debate about transit be one he makes time for?
Tory was one of the three major candidates who helped put transit at the forefront of the mayoral race. His Smart Track plan has been the highlight of his campaign, arguably garnering him a greater following and a surge of support in recent polls.
I don’t buy Olivia Chow’s explanation that Tory is just scared to debate with her, and I don’t buy Tory’s excuse that he’s just busy.
Perhaps Tory is now receiving so much support that he feels he doesn’t have to argue his position on transit.
But wouldn’t he welcome a debate on a topic he knows so well? Wouldn’t he relish the opportunity to reiterate his position, knowing he has the backing of a good chunk of the audience?
Turns out, he already is.
If you tune into CP24 every morning the way I do, you’ll notice Tory’s ad for Smart Track. It seems he’s taking his debates to a platform where no other candidate is needed.
Whatever Tory’s strategy might be, his last minute cancellation of a major debate hours before its scheduled start time was disrespectful. He didn’t hold himself accountable to students or the public.
It’s time we called out our flaky friend.