On February 10, 2023, shortly after commencing a third term as mayor of Toronto, John Tory admitted to an affair with a former staff member during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of his actions, Tory announced that he will be resigning from his position as Toronto’s mayor. He submitted his formal resignation to Toronto City Clerk, John D. Elvidge, on February 17, 2023, at 5 p.m.—thus ending his time as Toronto’s mayor.
“During the pandemic I developed a relationship with an employee in my office in a way that did not meet the standards to which I hold myself as mayor and as a family man,” stated Tory. He further explained that the workplace relationship ended mutually earlier this year, and the employee obtained a job outside of Toronto City Hall.
Tory called this extramarital affair “a serious error in judgement on [his] part.” He announced his resignation from his position as mayor so that he “can take the time to reflect on [his] mistakes,” and work to regain his family’s trust.
During his statement, he apologized not only to the people of Toronto, but to the parties negatively impacted by his actions, including his staff and colleagues, and especially his wife and family, “who [he has] let down, more than anyone else.”
“I have nonetheless been deeply honored by the opportunity to serve the people of this wonderful city,” said Tory, explaining that he “[made] a positive difference for the city that [he] truly love[s], particularly during the pandemic.”
So, what happens after Mayor Tory’s resignation? During an interview with The Medium, Professor Randy Besco from the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Department of Political Science shares his views on the sudden resignation of Mayor Tory.
Professor Besco believes that Tory’s affair was “clearly an abuse of power,” considering that the former staff member was Tory’s subordinate. He emphasizes that any sexual relationship with a subordinate in the workplace is unacceptable.
“I was surprised honestly that he resigned,” remarks Professor Besco, because “a lot of politicians [in Tory’s position] would have tried to stay [in power.]” Professor Besco finds that a senior politician in Canada resigning due to an affair is almost unheard of, calling the situation “very unusual.” However, he believes that Tory’s resignation was the honourable and responsible thing to do after his disclosure of the workplace affair.
“When the mayor resigns, the deputy mayor becomes the mayor temporarily,” explains Professor Besco. “The city council has between thirty and sixty days to call the election,” meaning that the time of the next election will be decided within this period.
Therefore, after Tory’s formal resignation, Professor Besco suspects that “the deputy mayor, Jennifer McKelvie, will become the mayor” and “will not make a lot of policy changes.” It should be noted that McKelvie herself will not be running for mayor in the new elections.
Regarding the public opinion of Tory after his affair and resignation, Professor Besco postulates that “the public view of him right now is not too bad in part because he resigned.” He elaborates that people believe Tory made a responsible decision by stepping down.
However, Professor Besco believes that effects on the long-term public opinion of the Toronto government are not as clear, and depend on factors such as the election process and who wins.
According to Professor Besco, Tory’s resignation could have large ramifications on the political sphere in Toronto because “[the provincial government] gave the mayor a lot of new powers.” The provincial government did this with the hope that they would have an ally in the mayor’s office. Professor Besco notes that if someone wins the election who has very different views and policies or does not get along with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, then “[the political landscape] could change a lot in terms of relationships with the provincial government, and especially with the federal government.”
Professor Besco contends that while it is unlikely policies such as the 2023 Housing Action Plan will be altered after Tory’s resignation, “If a different mayor gets elected who has different opinions, they might abandon Tory’s policy entirely.”
Staff Writer (Volume 49) — Angelina Jaya Siew is currently in her first year at UTM, seeking to specialize in Criminology, Law and Society and minor in French. After completing her secondary education in Trinidad and recently moving to Canada, she started writing for The Medium as a way to to highlight important global issues and encourage debate on controversial topics. When Angelina is not writing or studying, she is reading the latest mystery novel, travelling to different countries, or getting her almond milk vanilla latte at Starbucks.