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HomeWorld NewsCanada newsFormer Toronto mayor's affair with staffer violated ethics rules, watchdog says

Former Toronto mayor’s affair with staffer violated ethics rules, watchdog says

Former mayor John Tory’s affair with a staffer in his office and two votes related to the 2026 FIFA World Cup violated Toronto’s code of conduct for council members, the city’s integrity commissioner said Thursday.

In a report posted online, Jonathan Batty concluded that during the three-year, on-and-off again affair Tory failed to “observe the terms” of the city’s human resources policies and rules for relationships between city councillors and their staff.

Tory’s personal relationship with the woman (referred to in the report as Ms. A to protect her privacy) began in the summer of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up and continued until January 2023, the report said. Initially hired in 2018, Ms. A left the mayor’s office in spring 2021, going on to work first for the Scarborough Health Network Foundation and then Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). 

During his “lengthy and complex” inquiry, Batty found that the relationship was wholly consensual and that the pair shared a “strong emotional bond,” with Tory also acting as the woman’s professional mentor and confidant.

Batty said that despite the power imbalance, the circumstances of the relationship — revealed in part during interviews with both Tory and Ms. A — led him to conclude that Tory did not violate the city’s human rights and anti-harassment/discrimination policy.

Batty also found that Tory improperly used his influence as mayor when he voted yes in 2022 on two motions concerning Toronto’s ultimately successful bid to be a host city for the next World Cup. The first vote, in April, saw a status report on the bid adopted by council, while the second, in July, gave the city manager approval to negotiate an exclusive contract with MLSE to provide some hosting services for the event.

At the time, Ms. A was working part-time at MLSE on the team handling the company’s World Cup work.

“Within a few weeks of that vote, MLSE offered Ms. A a permanent position. Ms. A’s value to MLSE improved once Council directed MLSE could be awarded an exclusive contract for event services, given Ms. A’s government relations and related operational expertise,” Batty wrote.

Batty concluded that Tory’s votes were “not consistent with the principle of a Member of Council needing to perform their duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and bears close public scrutiny.” Further, they were “not consistent with the principles of a Member of Council needing to avoid real and apparent conflicts of interest and the improper use of their office for the private gain of someone close to them.”

WATCH | Tory says he will resign the mayor’s chair after admitting to an affair

former toronto mayors affair with staffer violated ethics rules watchdog says

Toronto Mayor John Tory announces resignation

8 months ago

Duration 2:32

Featured VideoToronto Mayor John Tory says he will step down from his office after admitting to a relationship with a former staffer.

Because Tory no longer sits on council, Batty did not recommend any penalty for Tory “as it would serve no purpose.”

Tory officially resigned in February just months into his third term as mayor after publicly admitting to the affair. Batty noted in his report that Tory “self-reported” the relationship and requested the Integrity Commissioner’s office investigate. 

Tory responded to the release in a report issued via a law firm.

“I fully accept the Integrity Commissioner’s findings that I could and should have handled this matter differently,” he said.

“I sincerely regret the impact my actions had on so many people in my life and on the people of the City of Toronto who it was my honour to serve for so many years.”

Tory went on to thank Batty and his office for “their professionalism and thoughtfulness throughout this process.”

More to come.

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