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Online with John Tory

Ontario's PC Leader joined us Thursday to discuss his bid for a seat in the legislature and what the province should be doing differently to battle the recession

Globe and Mail Update

"As Ontario's Liberal government tries to navigate its way through the economic crisis, it needs a strong opposition to hold it accountable," The Globe wrote in this editorial. "Since the last provincial election, in 2007, it has not had one. With [this month's] announcement that Progressive Conservative MPP Laurie Scott will step aside so that PC Leader John Tory can run in a by-election, that may finally change.

"Ms. Scott, one of the more popular and promising members of her caucus, will be missed in the Legislature. (She will probably attempt to return there in the next general election.) But the sacrifice she is making is a valuable one.

"Mr. Tory's absence from Queen's Park since losing in the riding of Don Valley West in 2007 has left the Conservatives dispirited and rudderless, going through the motions with veteran MPP Bob Runciman half-heartedly standing in for him in the Legislature. Since receiving a lukewarm endorsement in last year's leadership review, Mr. Tory has been unable to reassert control over his party. Caucuses are rarely easy to manage when in opposition, particularly after an unsuccessful election campaign. Mr. Tory's difficulty in finding an MPP willing to step aside for him has emboldened his critics. In recent months, the Tories seem to have spent as much time fighting with each other as attacking Dalton McGuinty's Liberals."

The editorial concluded: "Mr. Tory needs to make up for lost time in rebuilding his party both organizationally and in defining its policy agenda. His experience in the upper echelons of the business world should be very useful as Ontario seeks to pull itself out of recession — not just in criticizing the Liberals' ideas, but in putting forward alternatives. Ms. Scott's gracious decision has granted him the opportunity to fulfill his promise as a political leader."

Since then, Rick Johnson, a school-board chairman who lost Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock to Ms. Scott but still pulled in 30 per cent of the vote, has put himself forward as Mr. Tory's Liberal challenger a by-election that Mr. McGuinty has promised to call in the near future.

A keen observer of the recent turmoil within Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party, blogger Andrew Steele intially compared the swap of Ms. Scott for Mr. Tory to the Boston Red Sox selling Babe Ruth for a Broadway musical and suggested that, with taxpayers footing the bill for yet another PC bid to parachute a leader into the legislature, the Liberals should be smiling. But he also compiled a comprehensive list of 10 reasons Mr. Tory will win the by-election in HKLB.

With all that in mind, we are happy that Mr. Tory has agreed to join us and take your questions on his bid to at last win a seat in the legislature, why he stuck around after his self-imposed deadline for doing so had passed and what Ontario should be doing differently to battle the recession.

Mr. Tory was online Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET). Your questions and his answers appear in sequence at the bottom of this page.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Darren Yourk, globeandmail.com editor: Good morning Mr. Tory. Thanks so much for joining us to take questions from our readers. before we get started, I was wondering if you could share your thoughts on the York University strike and Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to send Reg Pearson in to try to find a resolution.

John Tory writes: I can't object to a mediator trying to resolve the matter but the past weeks suggest that chances of success aren't high. As a result, I strongly believe Mr. McGuinty should be moving now to recall the Legislature so that if there is not a resolution by weeks end, he can move to end the strike. Enough is enough. Students have had their year placed in jeopardy, jobs are being lost, summer jobs may be precluded for some. If he places the students first as I do, he will act now (b etter late than never) and end this strike. That's a view shared by taxpayers who are in awe of a group which turns down 10 per cent + when they the taxpayers are losing jobs and getting zero if they keep their jobs.

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