Transcript of November 26, 2020 CNN Interview of Toronto Mayor John Tory

(check transcript against delivery — refer to original video)

CNN: The fourth largest city in North America shutting down for the second time as coronavirus cases surge. Just ahead, Toronto’s mayor joins us live.

CNN: The United States isn’t the only country grappling with a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Canada also is seeing an alarming spike, as you see there. Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America began a 28-day lockdown this week. And joining me now is Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory. Mr. Mayor, glad to have you with us this morning. So this four-week lockdown, we’re now four days in, how’s it going so far?

TORY: And happy Thanksgiving to all of our American friends. We had Thanksgiving a month ago in Canada, and we know it’s a big day, but it’s different. We had the same thing where people only had Thanksgiving with their immediate family they lived with and that certainly changed things for what is a big American holiday. It’s going okay in that the objective is to reduce contact that people have with one another, and so in that sense, I think it’s probably achieving its objective. You don’t really know until a couple of weeks later, when the numbers, you know, may change in terms of the rate of infection. But it does have a terrible effect on business, obviously. But the decision was taken in Canada, here in Toronto, all levels of government, the province, the state and local governments have not had any daylight between when we worked together and decided this was the best thing to do in order to arrest what you correctly described as an alarming increase numbers. So we didn’t get to a state where our health care system was overwhelmed or we’ve had more deaths. It’s been tragic, but we’ve been fortunate in terms of keeping the rate of death from COVID-19 to, you know, a number that is I guess better than it might have been.

CNN: It’s interesting how you mention how the local equivalent
of the state, provincial, and the federal governments are all working together, which as you know, is not happening in this country. You are also, you know, you’re not looking to the US, I know, for guidance on this, just based on how it’s been handled south of your border. Where are you looking? What have you seen that worked that is telling you this four-week lockdown is the best way to move forward that businesses need to stay closed, but let’s keep schools open?

TORY: I think one of the things that we’ve concluded here and the other thing we’ve done throughout is relied on expert advice. I’ve asked a lot of questions of the expert who is in charge of these matters for this big city and I rely on her advice very much. And we also rely on global best practices and we’ve seen, fortunately, that while it’s a blunt instrument that does cause problems with the economy, that a lockdown of this kind is something that is going to reduce the number of contacts. We’ve even seen it with regard to some of the limits we’ve placed on restaurants and bars. and I was really sorry about that. it’s an agonizing thing to do but we saw the number of contacts that people who tested positive have had when we did the contact tracing was dramatically reduced when the restaurants and bars were closed. These are the kinds of things where there are still a lot of unknowns with this virus, as we all know. And by the way, we look to the United States, I think as the rest of the world does for leadership on things like this, because there is no more ingenious kind of determined country on earth. and so we’re very much looking forward to, you know, seeing, the full force of the United States put behind this, because we think that will lead, I’m sure, to some practices that we can all follow as we come out of this thing.

CNN: As you look at what’s going to happen over the next few weeks, you’ve said, and I’m quoting you here, people who choose to deliberately flout the law should face every consequence that we can possibly muster. You’ve already had some businesses, Adamson Barbecue restaurant in particular, try to go against these new lockdown measures. So what are those consequences coming their way?

TORY: Well, he’s going to face huge fines if he’s convicted, which
I’m sure he will be, because there’s all kinds of evidence that he opened against what the law provided and he won’t be opening today, I can assure you of that. And I think that — look, our society here very much like the United States is founded on respect for the law. It is founded on the fact that if you don’t like a law, you can go to court or seek office and try change the law by getting yourself elected, but you don’t just kind of thumb your nose at the system. We are — I don’t direct law enforcement, but the law enforcement people are, you know, certainly all over this particular gentlemen and look, it’s a political statement, too. He had a lot of the anti-mask people there, you know, kind of was all sort of like it was almost a festival they were having to try to celebrate of the their unorthodox views. But I think the vast majority of people don’t accept that, they’re trying hard to make the sacrifices that are terrible in some cases to make sure we can all get healthy. Because we understand, they understand, a healthy economy requires healthy people, period. And so that’s why we took the measures that we’re taking.

CNN: Really quickly, because we know you saw your spike,
Canadian Thanksgiving was October 12th. If it looks like you need to extend this over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, will you?

TORY: Well, I think we’ve proven that we’re prepared to do that, anything we have to do to keep public health, protect the health care system, keep the schools open, protect the elderly, that’s what we’re focused on and that’s what we’ll do if that’s what’s required. I hope not.

CNN: Mayor John Tory, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

TORY: Thank You.



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