By ALAN SHACKLETON
With John Tory’s announcement last week that he planned to resign as Mayor of Toronto, speculation about who might run in a byelection to replace him has put the spotlight on Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford as a potential candidate.
Tory made his announcement on Friday, Feb. 10, night and much of the weekend saw media stories trying to identify possible candidates who might seek to be Toronto’s next mayor.
However, as of Tuesday, Feb. 14, Tory remains the city’s mayor and he has not officially submitted his resignation papers to the Toronto City Clerk’s Office.
On Feb. 14, there was much talk that Tory may in fact now decide not to resign due to the outreach of other councillors urging him to stay in the job.
Tory, 68, said he would resign when details of an affair he had with a 31-year-old former staffer in his office were on the verge of being made public on Friday night by the Toronto Star. The affair is reported to have taken place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the woman no longer works for the City of Toronto.
In response by email to questions from Beach Metro Community News earlier this week, Bradford pointed out on Feb. 14 that Tory’s resignation is not yet official.
“In terms of what happens next, I’d note that Tory hasn’t formally resigned yet,” said Bradford. “After an official resignation is received, Deputy Mayor (Jennifer) McKelvie will become Head of Council as Acting Mayor. Provincial law also requires that a special election be held for a new Mayor. An official resignation also means Council has 60 days to declare that an election in the city.”
Bradford acknowledged that his name is being mentioned as a potential candidate to run for mayor if the byelection does happen.
He would not say if he would run for mayor.
“I’m hearing from a lot of people who recognize we are at a pivotal moment as a city. I’ve also been receiving a lot of calls from a diverse group of people across the political spectrum talking about the future of Toronto,” he told Beach Metro Community News.
A story first reported by CBC News had unnamed backroom members of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party identifying Bradford as a “centre right” mayoral candidate that they would view as an acceptable replacement to Tory.
Bradford’s mother Valerie is a Liberal MP for Kitchener South-Hespeler.
Beach Metro Community News asked Bradford if he was “comfortable” in a scenario where some might say he was the preferred mayoral candidate of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and Premier Doug Ford?
Bradford said Toronto’s leadership should be about more than a battle between the left and the right.
“We need energized leadership to rebuild the promise of Toronto. That means making sure politics doesn’t become a tug of war between the left and right,” he said. “It also means recognizing we have a lot of hard work ahead to make our city more affordable, to get it moving and ensure it’s a safe place for all of us.”
Tomorrow, Toronto Council is set to discuss its operating budget and it appears Tory will be at the meeting to help push it through, despite some residents thinking his Friday night announcement meant he was done with city politics.
“I know that this announcement has been a source of great uncertainty,” said Bradford. “I want to provide assurance that the City of Toronto – and all the vital services people depend on – will continue uninterrupted. We are in good hands with Deputy Mayor McKelvie, the City Manager and City Clerks in this interim period.”
If Tory does ultimately resign, Bradford said he would thank him for his years of service to Toronto. Tory was first elected Mayor of Toronto in 2014. Since then, he was re-elected in 2018 and most recently in 2022 for a third consecutive term.
“I want to thank Mayor John Tory for his decades of public service and eight years as Mayor. He served during a really difficult period and we’re thankful for that,” Bradford told Beach Metro Community News.