After Toronto mayor John Tory announced plans to resign following admissions of marital infidelity, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has become the most prominent politician to publicly beg Tory to stay.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Ford said Tory has been a “phenomenal partner” and Toronto City Hall under his leadership is “tickety-boo.”
It’s a bit of a turnaround for someone who was once Tory’s chief political opponent.
Ford was the primary challenger in the 2014 mayoral election that first brought Tory to office. Ford’s scandal-plagued brother Rob Ford also directly preceded Tory as mayor.
Nevertheless, Ford’s reasoning is that if the office was opened up to a by-election, there’s a good chance it could yield a “disastrous” result. “If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people of Toronto,” he said Wednesday.
According to a Tuesday report from CityNews, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was also among the figures urging Tory to reverse his resignation plans. The story cited an anonymous source close to Tory who said the mayor had fielded a phone call from Freeland encouraging him to stay on.
It was something that Freeland vehemently denied as soon as she could get in front of a microphone on Wednesday.
“Let me be absolutely clear and categorial — the story that was published yesterday is wholly untrue and not accurate. I can speak for myself and I’m speaking for myself right now, that story is entirely untrue, it is entirely inaccurate and I’m glad to have the chance to speak for myself and be clear and categorical,” she said. “John Tory admitted to making a serious mistake and to a serious error in judgment. He took responsibility for that mistake. He apologized for that mistake. And he took responsibility by resigning. That was the right thing to do. And that was the necessary thing to do.”
Torontonians themselves seem to be lukewarm on whether Tory should follow through with his plans to leave office. A recent Forum Research poll found that 45 per cent of respondents wanted him to stay, against 43 per cent who wanted him to go.
It’s only been four months since Tory won re-election in one of the biggest landslides in the city’s history. In the Oct. 24 mayoral election, Tory won an incredible 62 per cent of the vote. The next closest finisher — the left-leaning urbanist Gil Peñalosa — managed just 17.85 per cent.
In a surprise announcement Friday, Tory admitted to a sexual affair with a 31-year-old staffer that started during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tory said he needed to resign in order to avoid tarnishing the office. “I’ve decided that I will step down as mayor so that I can take the time to reflect on my mistakes and to do the work to rebuild the trust of my family,” he said.
Reportedly, Tory’s closest advisors are now telling him there’s no viable way back, and that anybody advising him to the contrary doesn’t have his “best interests” at heart. “His whole political narrative has been shot,” one source told CBC News.
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