John Tory handed over his mayoral powers at Toronto city hall on Friday, saying leaving the job breaks his heart but is the “right thing to do” given recent events.
Tory made no direct mention in his last public statement as mayor of the reason for his decision to step down: an extramarital affair with a former staffer. He took no questions from reporters after delivering his remarks.
In his statement, Tory thanked his staff, his colleagues, the city’s public service and the people of Toronto, saying he tried to unite the city during his tenure.
“All I tried to do was to be a mayor whose energy and drive matched that of the city itself, a mayor who tried hard to ensure that every part, every community, every person was included in the success story that is Toronto.”
The clock on Tory’s mayoral tenure ran out at 5 p.m., one week after he shocked the city by announcing his resignation and admitting he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a former staffer. He announced he would resign shortly after details of the relationship were first published by the Toronto Star.
Tory’s undoing comes just months after he handily won a third-term re-election bid, promising steady leadership in uncertain times. His resignation brings about a period of political uncertainty in Toronto, marshalling an indefinite stint of interim leadership and an eventual mayoral byelection.
His final statement as mayor came hours after a man threw multiple eggs at Tory’s office window at city hall early Friday morning.
Deputy mayor asked Tory to consider leave of absence
Tory said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city, he continued to work hard, “by always being ready to serve.” Doing so honoured essential workers in Toronto, including health-care workers, he said.
“That’s what makes being Mayor of this city the best job anyone could have. And it’s why it breaks my heart to leave. But leaving was the right thing to do, hard as it may be,” he said.
Tory said he hoped to be remembered for doing the work of keeping the city stable. He said he also wants to be known for building new transit lines, getting housing built, keeping taxes affordable while investing in front-line services and demonstrating respect for all of Toronto’s communities.
He added he will be focused on rebuilding trust with his family, but will also be looking for other ways to contribute to the city “in the days ahead.”
Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie told reporters immediately after Tory’s statement that she burst into tears on Friday evening, when he told her “that there was going to be a story, that it was true and that he would be resigning.”
McKelvie was in Ottawa. She said she was emotional then and was emotional on Friday when he resigned.
She said she asked him if he would consider taking a leave of absence instead but he said “this is what he wanted to do for his family.”
“I admire his sense of duty, I admire his sense of honour and I admire how he has taken full responsibility and how he has resigned,” she said.
“I think he uses his heart and he looked at what was best for him and his family and what was best for the city of Toronto and I think that’s admirable.”
Deputy mayor says her focus is on ‘good governance’
McKelvie thanked Tory for his years of service, wished him well and said she “fully respects” his request for privacy.
“He worked very long days, often seven days a week, because he loved this city and wanted to do a good job for all residents,” she said.
McKelvie said she has spoken to the city clerk and a report on the impending byelection — “the largest byelection ever held in Canada” — will be delivered to city council at its next scheduled meeting on March 29.
The report will allow councillors to formally declare the mayor’s office vacant and pass a bylaw to initiate the mayoral byelection.
A nomination period would open the next day and last anywhere between 30 and 60 days, with the vote to be held 45 days after that.
“I will be making sure that we continue to deliver on the priorities on which Mayor Tory received a mandate from voters last October: keeping our city safe, getting housing built, getting transit built and making sure the nuts-and-bolts city services continue to be delivered in the best possible way,” McKelvie said.
“Residents can rest assured that my entire focus of this time is ensuring a smooth transition and continued good governance.”
McKelvie assumed mayoral powers at 5 p.m. when Tory’s resignation took effect. She said she won’t be running to replace him. In his remarks, Tory had said she has the intelligence, dedication and experience to step into the role.
Tory calls public life ‘a sacrifice’ in memo
In a memo to councillors Friday morning, Tory thanked his colleagues and called public life “a sacrifice.”
“Public life is a sacrifice for anyone and one you have made to contribute to a better future for our city,” he wrote.
“As for me, you can be sure I will be an engaged, contributing citizen trying to ensure, as you are, a bright future for our great city,” he said in the memo.
In the memo, Tory said to “ensure good governance,” he was delegating to the city manager authority to hire most senior officials and amend the city’s organizational structure.
Council will have the authority to hire deputy city managers and the city solicitor, as part of what Tory’s office is calling a standard transition process.
Despite announcing his resignation last Friday, Tory stayed on to see his budget approved by council this week.
In the memo, he called the budget, “a reasonably good example of working together in challenging circumstances.”
Toronto’s next council meeting will see the city clerk bring a report that allows councillors to formally declare the mayor’s office vacant and to pass a bylaw to initiate a byelection.
A nomination period would open the next day and last anywhere between 30 and 60 days, with the mayoral byelection held 45 days after that.