By Jake MacAndrew and Racy Rafique
Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) community members say they are apprehensive about Toronto’s future following mayor John Tory’s resignation announcement on Friday.
Tory, who has been the city’s mayor since 2014, said in a press conference on Feb. 10, that he would be stepping down from his position following a report published by the Toronto Star which detailed his extramarital relationship with a former city staffer.
“[Tory] deciding to step down just seems very influencer-apology type energy,” said first-year politics and governance student Jordan Tettey. He feels that Tory only stepped down to try and salvage his reputation—not because he felt remorseful about it.
“White men in power can do whatever they want until they get caught,” he said.
Mikayla Densa, a fourth-year fashion design student, had only heard of Tory’s resignation when she was interviewed by The Eyeopener.
“In a marriage that’s that long, what’s the point [of cheating]?” she questioned. “And also you’re in a position of authority so you can’t be messing around with your reputation.”
Tory’s announcement does not mean that his resignation will take effect immediately, said TMU politics and public administration professor emeritus Myer Siemiatycki.
Tory will remain in office to oversee finalizing the Toronto City Budget for 2023, Toronto Budget Chief Gary Crawford told CBC News.
After that, there will be a city by-election to vote on Toronto’s new mayor.
The by-election must take place 45 days after the nomination period which must be chosen within 60 days of Tory’s resignation, as stated in section 65 of the Municipal Elections Act. Due to the budget meeting-related delays, the by-election will likely be held in April or May, according to Siemiatycki.
Some students say they are concerned for the city’s future.
“I don’t think John Tory was that good of a mayor but then obviously him stepping down creates a lot of uncertainty,” said first-year film studies student Charlotte Turner. “What’s going to happen with the budget? What’s going to happen with the deputy mayor?”
“[Tory] deciding to step down just seems very influencer-apology type energy”
She said recent issues affecting the city, such as the increased violence on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and increased transit fares, are among things to consider when voting in the spring.
“[The housing crisis], safety and police presence. I think that’s what I’ll be paying attention to,” she said.
As a commuter student from Newmarket, Ont., second-year English student Madison Hayes said she hopes for improved TTC operations following the change of power.
“Ever since I’ve been alive or cognisant I really only remember John Tory being mayor,” said Hayes.
Notable topics in this year’s budget include TTC service cuts, increased transit fares, increased police funding and additional funding for crisis support as previously reported by The Eye.
“It’s pretty clear that [Tory] is staying on to exercise extended powers of the mayor to push through his preferred budget, which is then going to tie the hands of city council for the next 12 months,” said Siemiatycki.
Strong mayor powers, which were recently introduced in December 2022, allow Toronto’s mayor to veto and pass bills on their own, according to the City of Toronto’s “Strong Mayor Powers Overview.”
This new power makes the upcoming by-election “one of the most interesting and important mayoral elections in the history of the city,” according to Siemiatycki.
“Every issue that is now confronting Toronto, from homelessness to housing affordability to transit to security and safety is going to play out in this election,” he said.
For Tettey, the pressure is on to find a candidate he can trust, he said.
“Honestly, I’m just concerned about the possibility of having a worse candidate,” said Tetty. “Because as elections keep happening every few years, the candidates stop becoming better and just become worse.”
With files from Gabriela Silva Ponte
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, it was stated that the by-election would take place 45 days after Tory stepped down. The by-election must take place 45 days after the nomination period which must be chosen within 60 days of Tory’s resignation. The Eye regrets this error.