How will Toronto’s transfer of mayoral powers work? An explainer on what lies ahead


Published February 11, 2023 at 7:54 pm

Mayor John Tory shocked Torontonians and the political sphere late Friday when he admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with a former member of his staff and abruptly announced plans to resign from the city’s top job.

Tory’s sudden resignation has left many questions about what lies ahead for Toronto and the city’s governance in the coming days, weeks and months. Here’s what to expect:

Who is mayor of Toronto?

Still John Tory — for now. City spokesman Mike Hajmasy says Tory has not submitted a formal letter of resignation to the City Clerk as of Saturday and therefore remains mayor.

Once a resignation has been received, Hajmasy says the city will be able to advise on timelines and next steps. It is unclear when Tory plans to submit a resignation letter.

What happens when Tory formally resigns?

Once Toronto’s city clerk receives Tory’s resignation letter, city council will need to declare the mayor’s office vacant. That could happen as early as Wednesday, when councillors are set to debate the city’s proposed 2023 budget — which Tory had sole responsibility to prepare under the province’s “strong mayor” powers.

Once the mayor’s office is declared vacant, the clock starts ticking towards a byelection to replace Tory, which must be held within 60 days.

What will a byelection look like?

In previous years, the city was able to appoint a successor to fill the mayor’s seat. But due to the province’s “strong mayor” legislation, Toronto is required to hold a byelection for the mayor’s office.

That means Torontonians will return to the polls just months after October’s municipal election saw Tory cruise to what was supposed to be a third full term.

It will be the responsibility of Toronto’s city clerk to administer the byelection. The city clerk will set a deadline for candidates to file their nomination papers and election day would take place 45 days after that, according to Ontario’s Municipal Elections Act.

Gil Penalosa, who was Tory’s runner-up in October’s municipal election, has already announced his plans to run again on the same platform. Penalosa received just 18 per cent of the vote in that election, compared to Tory’s about 62 per cent.

Who will take over as interim mayor?

Jennifer McKelvie, councillor for Scarborough-Rouge Park and the city’s deputy leader, will likely take on the role of interim mayor once the office is declared vacant.

As deputy mayor, McKelvie already has the power to act as mayor when the mayor is away from the city, absent due to illness or when the mayor’s office is vacant.

McKelvie is a relative newcomer to city hall, having been elected in 2018 after narrowly defeating incumbent Neethan Shan by taking 40.2 per cent of the vote.

She was re-elected in October with 72 per cent of the vote and appointed deputy mayor by Tory in November.

Her voting track record at city hall has typically been in line with Tory’s.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2023.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press

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