Wednesday, February 15, 2023

John Tory plunges Toronto back into confusion

I don't want to get into the rights and wrongs of Toronto Mayor John Tory's "lapse of judgement" - I couldn't care less what politicians get up to in their spare time, so long as it doesn't actually affect their capability and effectiveness. What I do take exception to is Tory's feckless follow-up to the announcement of his resignation.

Clearly, his Council buddies on the right have persuaded him to hang around, at least until after the budget debate today. Some are even suggesting that he just continue for the rest of his term, regardless of his resignation announcement, and that is still a possibility at this point, although I can't really see that happening. Doug Ford, is also, predictably, sticking his oar in where it's not wanted (the make-up of Toronto City Council is, or should be, nothing to do with the Premier of Ontario), saying it would be a "disaster" if Tory was replaced by a "lefty" mayor, and that Toronto would be "toast" were that to happen. The right wing, of course, wants to make sure that Tory's budget (including some controversial items like increased funding for the police service, service cuts and higher prices for city transit, and no additional money for homeless people) is passed without any annoying changes from the left wing of Council. 

Given that Tory has openly said that he is quite comfortable taking advantage of the ridiculous "strong mayor powers" brought in recently by Doug Ford, the easiest way to ensure the budget passes as is would be for Tory himself to guide it through. (Any interim mayor who replaces Tory would specifically not be able to use the strong mayor powers.) Tory has still not officially handed in his resignation, so legally, even if not ethically, he can do that.

So, here we have a guy who has said he will resign after being caught out having it away with a staffer, who is still turning up to work as though nothing has happened. Many Torontonians are willing to cut Tory a fair bit of slack out of gratitude for rescuing us from the iniquities of Rob Ford's time in power. But that was a long time ago, and that gratitude has worn off. The city is gradually going to the dogs under Tory's administration, and he should not have been given a third term (he should not even have STOOD for a third term, knowing that he was already breaking the ethics rules).

By clinging to power after resigning under a cloud, he has lost all credibility and moral leadership. We are in danger of returning to the bad old days, when no-one had any idea what was going to happen in Council from one day to the next. Canada's largest city cannot afford that kind of incertitude.

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