John Tory: activist, broadcaster, leader

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For John Tory, the end was just the beginning. Read more

After a stunning defeat in the Ontario byelection that ended his political career in 2009, the Toronto native quickly bounced back and announced his return to his first love: broadcasting.

"I am who I am," the resilient 57-year-old was quoted as saying during a news conference after his loss. "I did my best."

Tory, son of the revered former president of Thomson Investments Limited and great-grandson of the founder of Sun Life of Canada, was the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader from 2004 until his byelection loss in 2009. His diverse resumé includes serving as president and CEO of Rogers Media Inc. and Rogers Cable, and working as a lawyer and radio reporter early in his career. 

As the current host of Live Drive, he has made the Newstalk 1010 current affairs radio show a ratings hit. He also volunteers his time to charities and chairs the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, which focuses on region-building. Despite his failures amid successes, including losing a bid to become mayor of Toronto in 2003, he says it was camp that taught him to persevere. He attended the Kandalore overnight camp in the Algonquin Highlands for four years as a child.

"Camp is one of the places early in life where they teach you not to give up," says Tory in an interview with Our Kids. "It taught you a lot about living outside of your comfort zone, not in a huge way, but in a way that was enough that you learn."

It was at camp where he overcame his fears of the water and learned to swim, which was required for canoe and sailing trips.

Emotional intelligence and social skills, especially learning how to work with others, were invaluable to his leadership training. Tory and fellow campers relied on each other to paddle the canoe, portage to different lakes, carry backpacks, set up the campsite and tents, catch fish, cook over an open fire and clean up everything.

Whether at the Ontario legislature or the boardroom, Tory has always been driven by his life's mission rather than personal ambition, the seeds of integrity partly planted at camp.

"I've applied the same test to everything that I've done, which is that I like to do things that are interesting and fun, but more important, I like to do things that make a difference," says the broadcaster, who has been described by former political colleagues as "the best mayor we never had" and a person with "honesty, sincerity and integrity."


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