New Toronto mayor aims for stability over celebrity


John Tory

© Alex Guibord Creative Commons by ND 2.0

John Tory took up his duties as Mayor of Toronto on 1 December following the city’s mayoral election at the end of October.

The moderately conservative Tory won 40.2 per cent of the public vote, on a record 60 per cent turnout, and replaced the controversial Rob Ford, who had registered as a candidate but was forced to pull out of the race in September after being diagnosed with an abdominal tumour. His brother, Doug Ford, ran in his place and came in second (33.7 per cent), followed by Olivia Chow (23.2 per cent).

The mayoral office had been stripped of the majority of its budget and powers by the city council in November 2013, making the role essentially a symbolic one. The restrictions were imposed on Rob Ford in the wake of revelations regarding his alcoholism and repeated substance abuse.

He is the subject of several criminal investigations, after Toronto newspapers obtained photos and videos of him being drunk in public, driving while intoxicated and smoking cocaine. Nevertheless, he refused to resign and, despite the controversies and his ill health, he stood as Ward 2 city councillor and was elected.

The powers that the city council removed apply to Ford only and have now been restored to the mayoral office.

Where Ford came to stand for volatility, John Tory’s election is an attempt at stability. Tory previously contested the 2003 mayoral election and, after losing, spent several years as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

He has been keen to stress that his term in office will signal the end of the city’s political turmoil and the beginning of a new era.

His post-election speech clearly addressed citizens’ concerns, even if he didn’t specifically name Ford: “Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralysed City Hall the last few years.”

Equally, he is eager to curb the media’s delight in and the celebrity status surrounding the mayorship. To that effect, he has refused all requests to appear on late-night talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live.


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