Formal resignation has been submitted by Toronto Mayor John Tory after affair with staffer


Published February 16, 2023 at 6:25 am

John Tory in office

John Tory, who shocked Toronto residents with his admission of an affair with a former staffer, submitted his formal resignation from the mayor’s office late Wednesday shortly after councillors approved what became his final budget.

Tory, 68, admitted last week to an “inappropriate relationship” with someone who used to work for him and said he’d be stepping down. His office later said he’d stay on as mayor for this week’s debate on his fiscal plan.

Tory defended his budget before councillors Wednesday night, saying it was the best plan for challenging times, and did not exercise his veto power on amendments made. Barely an hour later, he submitted his letter of resignation to the city clerk saying his last day as mayor would be Friday.

“I continue to be deeply sorry and apologize unreservedly to the people of Toronto and to all those hurt by my actions without exception,” Tory wrote in the letter.

“This has been the job of a lifetime, and while I have let many people, including myself, down in this instance, I have nonetheless been deeply honoured by the opportunity to serve the people of this wonderful city for more than eight years and I hope I achieved some good for the city I truly love.”

Tory said he will spend the next two days in meetings with Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie and city staff to ensure an orderly transition.

He added that he hoped to be a “contributing citizen” in different ways because he loved the people of Toronto.

The resignation letter put an end to the uncertainty that swirled about just when Tory would officially resign.

He faced several calls to stay in office despite the controversy that engulfed him since Friday, with Premier Doug Ford among those who wanted Tory to remain at the city’s helm.

Ford said Tory had been a “phenomenal partner” and it was not time to change the leadership of the city because everything was going “tickety-boo.”

“If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people of Toronto,” the premier said in Brampton, Ont., after making an unrelated announcement.

“If a left-wing mayor gets in there, we’re toast. I’ll tell you, it’d be a disaster.”

The premier – who served on Toronto city council with his late brother, former mayor Rob Ford – didn’t directly comment on the reason Tory announced his resignation, saying what happens in the mayor’s private life is “strictly up to the mayor and their family.”

Several Tory council allies had also pressed the mayor to stay on.

“Our recommendation is that he take some time off, wait for the integrity commissioner’s report and then that will be tabled at council – we’ll make a decision,” Coun. James Pasternak said early Wednesday.

But Coun. Gord Perks, a vocal critic of the mayor, said Tory had to follow through with his resignation.

“He has to own it,” Perks said.

The budget that saw Tory linger on in office was his first under new strong mayor powers granted by the provincial government.

Those powers gave Tory a veto over changes and the ability to push through his fiscal plan with only one-third council support. Tory rose late Wednesday night to say he would not use his veto power.

The mayor called the budget the toughest he’d worked on – he was elected to a third term in October – due to issues like rising inflation, supply chain challenges, decreased transit fare revenues and increased shelter costs.

“These are very, very challenging times for the budget and for the city,” Tory said. “For us to have come together and made as much progress as we have … I think shows a government working at its best.”

Tory, who had cultivated an image in office as a straitlaced moderate conservative, did not directly address his looming departure at the budget meeting, nor did the councillors around him.

Controversial proposals in the document included a hike to the police budget, cuts to transit service and a growing infrastructure backlog.

One councillor moved an omnibus budget amendment, which passed, to direct $7 million to programs including community investment grants, one 24-7 warming centre and mental health supports for people experiencing homelessness on public transit, among other items.

Another motion, brought by newcomer Coun. Alejandra Bravo attempted to redirect $900,000 from the police budget to providing 24-7 respite centres for people experiencing homelessness but did not pass.

The budget contains Tory’s proposed $48.3-million increase to the police budget. That would bring police funding to just over $1.1 billion for 2023.

Earlier in the day, Toronto police chief Myron Demkiw defended the boost, saying he’s heard from the public and through polling that there is demand for more police.

Council also approved a combined seven per cent property tax increase for all residential households, the largest increase in decades.

Tory’s departure Friday means a byelection will eventually be held to fill his position.

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