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John Tory behind new robocall backing Scarborough byelection candidate

Toronto Mayor John Tory makes a telephone call from his office after the Toronto budget meeting, on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Weeks after his dramatic, last-minute endorsement of Ana Bailão in Toronto’s mayoral byelection, John Tory is calling Scarborough residents to offer a fresh recommendation.

The former Toronto mayor and Progressive Conservative leader has been enlisted to push Doug Ford’s candidate in a Scarborough byelection set for the end of July.

“I am calling to ask you to support Gary Crawford in this byelection,” Tory can be heard saying in a robocall.

“Gary Crawford has been a hard-working, responsible city councillor. He will be a valued provincial representative.”

Crawford is among the candidates running to replace former Ontario Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter as the provincial representative for Scarborough—Guildwood. Hunter held the seat for a decade.

Andrea Hazell is running for the Ontario Liberals, Thadsha Navaneethan for the Ontario NDP and Tara McMahon for the Greens.

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Tory’s endorsement is part of a flurry of activity around the byelection, which is set for July 27. Several Ford government cabinet ministers have been deployed to boost Crawford’s campaign, while leaders of both the Liberals and the NDP have been campaigning in the area.

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The robocall has also been deployed notably earlier than Tory’s shock backing of Bailão during the recent Toronto mayoral election.

His call pushing voters to back Crawford has been rolled out 10 days before residents go to vote. Tory’s endorsement for Bailão came just five days before voting day and after advance polls.

Click to play video: 'Ana Bailao congratulates Chow on victory in concession speech'
Ana Bailao congratulates Chow on victory in concession speech

Bailão saw a surge in popularity on election night, finishing in a comfortable second place behind winner Olivia Chow. Polling suggested her campaign saw a tangible boost from the former mayor’s endorsement.

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One insider with the Bailão campaign during the election said her camp believed if John Tory had announced his preferred candidate earlier, Bailão could have won.

The individual told Global News that “blame John” was the refrain within the campaign after their candidate fell short of the mayor’s office. The campaign reportedly felt Tory’s endorsement for Bailão both should and could have come earlier, the source said.

Voting in the election for Scarborough—Guildwood is set for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 27.

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