News / Toronto

Don't expect John Tory to reverse course on the Gardiner, expert says

Mayor John Tory may have reversed course on police carding, but don't expect a similar flip-flop on the Gardiner Expressway, says one observer.

After months of supporting carding, Tory changed his tune Sunday, calling the controversial practice "toxic" and saying it had "eroded public trust" in the police service.

Tory had been facing mounting criticism on the carding file, from everyone from journalist and activist Desmond Cole to former mayor David Crombie.

"I think he finally realized he had to throw in the towel on the carding issue," said York University professor and municipal affairs expert Dennis Pilon.

Pilon doesn't expect a similar change of heart on the Gardiner, especially after Tory doubled-down on his preferred hybrid option – which leaves the urban highway largely intact – during a speech at the Empire Club Monday.

Pilon suspects Tory did the "political calculus" and decided changing course on carding was less risky than the Gardiner.

"The people who were for carding weren't for it enough, and the people who were against it were really against it," he said.

The Gardiner is a different story.

"John Tory wants to get re-elected," Pilon said. "And if we tear down the Gardiner and it dramatically increases travel times for some car drivers, that could be a votable issue."

Rather than risk alienating drivers, Pilon said Tory would be wise to let any push to tear down the Gardiner come from council rather than the mayor's office.

"I think Tory's advisors are telling him to stay away from the Gardiner and let the pressure come from council," he said. "The more pressure emerges from council, the easier it is for the mayor to act."

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