Fumble cuts through tough talk

EARL MCRAE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Leo Cahill must be shaking his head when he hears John Tory going around saying Dalton McGuinty can't be trusted to keep a promise, but that he can because he's a man of his word, and if Cahill should ever meet up with Tory he could be forgiven for saying bull manure, Mr. Tory, where's my money?

Cahill remembers when Tory was the head of another party. It was called the Canadian Football League. John Tory was its commissioner from 1996 to 2000.

That was before he ditched the eyeglasses and put a rinse in his hair on the road to becoming a politician of another sort.

At least he never promised he wouldn't touch himself cosmetically when he took over as leader of the Ontario Conservatives, and neither did Liberal McGuinty who, you might have noticed, has gone from his initial short Norman Bates hairstyle to a less mockable, fuller, Norman design.

EXTREME MAKEOVERS

Howard Hampton? What can you say, he still looks like a big, ol' farm boy in a suit, shirt, and tie. No way Back-40 Howard is going to succumb to the politician's disease of now-you-see-it, now-you-don't that -- to give a couple of the more publicized examples of extreme makeovers -- saw Preston Manning also abandon his glasses, along with his old teeth, his old voice, his old hairstyle, its old colour, and Stephen Harper go under the knife to have a small mole removed from his upper lip.

In politics, it's not so much what you say to the unwashed masses, but how you look saying it, and John Tory, de-nerded, is looking very nice these days promising to keep his promises and promising that Dalton McGuinty won't keep his, and in an apartment in the town of Sarnia in the province of Ontario lives a man named Leo Cahill, football legend, who will tell you that John Tory once broke a promise that meant the biggest thing in Leo Cahill's life at the time.

This goes back to when Tory was the commissioner of the CFL, Cahill was the general manager of the Ottawa Rough Riders, and when the club folded in 1996 under Horn Chen, the league took it over, but killed it rather than trying to find new ownership.

Cahill was owed $7,000 on his contract, and at the time due to personal circumstances, desperately needed every cent of it. He appealed to the league for the balance owing.

Four years later, in a conversation with Cahill, I asked if he ever did get that $7,000. No, he said.

I took it upon myself to send an e-mail to commissioner John Tory -- without Cahill's knowledge -- pointing out in detail his dire financial circumstances, what he'd meant over the years to the CFL as head coach and later general manager of the Toronto Argonauts, his dedication to the Rough Riders who failed through no fault of his own, and pleaded with Tory to have the league come up with the $7,000 for Cahill.

I have that e-mail saved.

I sent it August 3, 2000.

A month later, on Sept. 5, I received an e-mail back from John Tory. I have that one, too. It reads: "Earl. I phoned Leo repeatedly before he went away and we ended up trading voice mails. The League will do something, as I will personally. Thank you for reminding me, and kind regards. JHT."

"The League will do something, as I will personally. Thank you for reminding me..." Four years later.

MR. ARGONAUT

The day of Tory's e-mail in 2000, I followed up with a phone call to him. He spoke glowingly of Cahill. He agreed he deserved the money. And would get it. He talked about how, as a young boy, his father would take him to Argo games, and how the colourful Leo was Mr. Argonaut. He said he had great respect for Leo Cahill and his contributions to the CFL.

Leo Cahill, yesterday: "No, I never got the money. I don't recall any voice mails from him either. Maybe he did try. But if he did, he never called me with any explanation."

Leo Cahill deserved at least that.


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