Selling the idea to his wife, Barbara Hackett, took some toughness as well. Friends say Ms. Hackett was averse to his third trip to the plate. “Wary,” he said, correcting me. “People used to bump into us on the street and say you must be mayor and she’d pull me by the arm and say, ‘I’m not sure that’s happening but nice to see you!’ She even said something in The Star that it’s okay if he runs as long as he promises to lose.”
So how did lawyer Mr. Tory present his case to his family – his wife and his four children? “I presented in a fatherly way. I said that I could really make a positive difference in in turning around the situation,” he said. “That it’s at a turning point and we have to make sure it remains a great city.”
While that recounting doesn’t exactly ring with intimacy, age seems to have played a part. Almost 60, Mr. Tory talked about the wonders of having grandchildren, how it makes you feel like a parent again. He also mentioned that it offers you a make-over of sorts. “When you get to be a grandfather, you get to start all over again,” he said. He says he feels wiser, more energetic, more vigorous than ever. Though sometimes mocked about his stolidness, Mr. Tory seems able to laugh at himself.
He also recounted a recent time when he took one of his granddaughters, Isabelle, to Riverdale Park, one of his favourite destinations, and took out the stroller. “I’m very happy with myself because I’ve got it all set up and then some nice woman recognizes me and says, ‘So nice to be here, and by chance, did you know you happen to be pushing that stroller backwards?’”
The conversation wrapping up, Mr. Tory offers to drive to visit a friend, Dennis Keshinro, a high school teacher who spends most of his extra time and a lot of his personal money running after-care programs, called Belka, for children of double-income parents who work double shifts. Many of them take computer literacy classes in old TTC buses that Mr. Keshinro retrofitted with the help of Mr. Tory and former CFL great Pinball Clemons.
Nosing his Lexus SUV out of the Jane-Finch Mall to head over to Mr. Keshiro’s space, Mr. Tory said that no particular event pushed him to run. It was simply what was happening to the city. “Did I have a dramatic moment when I made that decision? I’m not that kind of person.”
But we suddenly confront a more mundane drama: in order to get to the left-hand-turn lane, which is already lined up, he has to cut across two lanes of moving northbound traffic. Should he be one of those elbows-out drivers who makes everyone wait so he can get where he needs to go? Or take the more honourable route of turning right and then U-turning all the way back down south?
If you bet he took the more gentlemanly route, you bet wrong.
Note to readers: An earlier online version of this story incorrectly stated Mr. Tory lost his seat in the 2007 election. It already belonged to Kathleen Wynne. This online version has been corrected.