Tory announces his resignation, but will stay in mayor’s chair through city budget approval process

John Tory speaks at the opening of Winter Stations 2022 on Woodbine Beach in this Beach Metro Community News file photo.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Toronto City Council is in limbo as residents are left wondering who is leading the city following Mayor John Tory’s resignation announcement on Friday, Feb. 10.

Tory, who was just a few months into his third term, told reporters that he is stepping down from his position after Toronto Star revealed he had an extramarital affair with a member of his staff.

“I’ve decided that I will step down and disappear, so that I can take the time to reflect on my mistakes, and to do the work of rebuilding the trust of my family,” said Tory.

Although he announced plans to resign, Tory is yet to officially do so because the revelation of his affair made headlines just as Council prepares to review 2023’s proposed budget. The budget meeting is set to start on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

According to a press release from his office, Tory plans on staying put until the budget process is completed. It is reported that he could stay as long as 25 days after the budget debate to ensure it goes through as intended by his office.

Since the announcement, there have been many names being thrown around as possible successors to the mayor. One of which has been Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford though he has not indicated any plans to pursue the position at the moment.

Gil Penalosa, the runner up of the last municipal election in October of 2022, has already conveyed plans to run for office once a byelection is called.

If Tory does in fact step down, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, Councillor for Scarborough-Rouge Park, will adopt the role as Council’s leader until the City of Toronto holds a byelection for voters to select a permanent replacement.

Ontario’s Municipal Act mandates byelections to happen within 60 days of Council declaring the mayor’s office vacant.

As acting mayor, McKelvie can exercise all the rights and authorities of the Mayor of Toronto, but the position doesn’t come with the province’s newly introduced Strong Mayor powers.

Mayor Tory’s affair ended earlier this year and the unnamed former staff member has moved on to do other work and is no longer a city employee. It is currently unclear the nature of their relationship, or its demise.

Some have ridiculed Tory for his actions, citing claims that it was an abuse of power. Others, however, have forgiven him and deem the situation as a simple mistake that has nothing to do with his abilities to govern the city.

Many councillors, such as Scarborough Southwest’s Gary Crawford, are pleading with Tory to remain in his position.

They say that considering a deputy mayor doesn’t quite wield the same authority as an elected one, it is vital for those who support Tory’s budget that he remains in office until the process reaches completion – in case he is needed to test out Strong Mayor powers for the first time in order to get the budget approved.

“He needs to get this through,” said Crawford in a media scrum at Toronto City Hall yesterday. “This is an important budget for the City of Toronto. An incredibly important budget for the City of Toronto after a challenging time and we need his leadership.”

Toronto has been experiencing a high number of crimes on the TTC which is poised to be a major topic of discussion during Wednesday’s budget meeting. Tory’s proposal to add $48 million to Toronto police, as well as decrease TTC service while increasing the fare by 10 cents, has been unpopular among some city councillors.

Tory has expressed plans to leave following the budget’s approval, but that decision is now being questioned after residents began to report they were receiving calls from pollsters about his future.

One call, which was recorded by a resident, asked whether they felt Tory should resign or be given a chance to keep his job.

Although this has been interpreted by some as a sign that Tory is considering staying on as Mayor of Toronto, his office has denied any involvement in the polling calls.

Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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