John Tory is resigning as Toronto’s mayor. We answer your questions

John Tory is resigning as Toronto’s mayor. We answer your questions

Toronto Mayor John Tory is resigning after having a relationship with a former employee in his office, something he called a “serious error in judgment” and something that in his view risked “tarnishing” the city’s top job.

Tory made the announcement late Friday. Here’s what he said if you haven’t read it yet.

To me, someone who has covered the mayor and city hall, it was a stunning announcement. It probably is for you, too. I’m already getting texts asking how surprised I am on a scale of 1-10 (Answer: 18.)

CBC Toronto will have you covered all day as reaction rolls in from Toronto citizens and political leaders alike. We want to know: What questions do you have about Tory’s resignation? Let us know by emailing

  • UPDATE: Wow, more than 250 people wrote in with questions — thank you! I’ve answered as many as I can for today, but we’ll be following up on more in the coming days.

Why is Tory stepping down?

The Toronto Star’s city hall bureau broke the story of Tory’s relationship with a 31-year-old former staffer. CBC News Network spoke with its bureau chief, David Rider, on what went into the reporting and what comes next. You can see that in the player below:

Toronto Star journalist Dave Rider breaks down the John Tory story

The newspaper’s city hall bureau chief explains how his team broke the story and what comes next for city hall now that John Tory has resigned.

A bunch of people have asked questions about: Why now? I can’t answer that, but it will certainly warrant more scrutiny in the coming days.

There’s also the question about why Tory ran for re-election knowing that this relationship may be exposed. Tory, who, to his credit, takes questions from reporters all the time, did not address this is in his comments Friday night.

Someone asked how old Tory is: He’s 68.

Who is the woman?

OK, so, ask yourself: Is this relevant to the story?

CBC Toronto will seek comment from the woman, in case she wants to share her story. That could change things. But the focus for now should be on Tory and his actions, not hers. He was the person in a position of power.

She is also not, we should note, an elected official.

As Tory said himself: “I recognize that permitting this relationship to develop was a serious error in judgment on my part.”

Emphasis on the last three words.

WATCH | Here’s what Tory said as he announced his resignation:

Toronto Mayor John Tory announces resignation

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he will step down from his office after admitting to a relationship with a former staffer.

What does it feel like in Toronto today?

Normally, approaching people on the street to talk about local politics is, well, a challenge.

Not today.

All reporter Meg Roberts had to say was “John Tory” and Torontonians had plenty to say. Some said they wanted him to stay on, others are hoping his resignation opens space for a better leader.

You can read more about what people had to say here.

Was the resignation necessary?

A lot of you are asking this question and I am in zero position to answer it.

Here’s what I can tell you based on my reporting experience, without veering into speculation land:

Tory’s office is a powerful political machine and he is an experienced politician, as well as a trained lawyer. There is no way this was an easy decision. Zero chance.

Technically, as of Saturday afternoon, Tory hasn’t officially tendered his resignation.

What happens now?

Brace for a byelection. The timing is still unclear, but Torontonians should certainly be planning to go back to the polls in 2023.

You can read more on that here.

You’ve also been asking: What will a byelection cost the city and will taxpayers be on the hook? We may be able to get an estimate from Elections Toronto in the coming days, but yes, I’m pretty sure the city will pay for the election.

Could Tory be sanctioned for this?

One reader raised this excellent question: “Did his former employee make a formal complaint against him?”

That’s not clear based on the Star’s reporting. What we can tell you is that Tory said he has notified the city’s integrity commissioner about the relationship.

Who’s in charge now?

Tory said Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, a Scarborough councillor who was re-elected to a second term in last October’s election, will take over until a new mayor is elected.

McKelvie was at a conference in Ottawa when Tory made his announcement. CBC Toronto has reached out to speak with her about how she plans to govern in the interim.

Does the new interim mayor have strong mayor powers?

This is a great question, thanks to whoever wrote in asking it.

I spoke with Shawn Jeffords, our current city hall reporter, and we both believe from what we’ve previously reported on the powers that McKelvie will be able to use them.

That said, we’ve reached out to the City of Toronto to confirm. “My sense is this information will come from the City Manager in the coming days,” a city spokesperson said in an email.

If you’re looking for a backgrounder on how “strong mayor” powers work, check this story out.

Can city businesses continue to function properly without the mayor?

Yes. The mayor is the boss, but the majority of the ways you interact with the city — from swimming lessons to snow-clearing — are all run by city staff.

Who might run to replace Tory?

Considering 31 people ran for mayor in the last election there will likely be plenty of candidates to choose from.

Urbanist Gil Penalosa, who finished 2nd in 2022 election with 98,525 votes (Tory had 342,158), announced his intention to run in the byelection on Saturday.

Former police officer Blake Acton, who finished fourth in 2022, also announced his plans to run again.

“When can we get a female mayor please?” one reader wrote in. Toronto has had two female mayors: June Rowlands and Barbara Hall, but both led the city pre-amalgamation in the 90s.

More people will likely announce their plans to run soon and our newsroom is monitoring. (It’s busy in here today!)

But who will have the funding and political power to launch a winning campaign on zero notice?

Is Doug Ford considering running?

Yes, people have been asking this. His office sent this three word statement: “He is not.”

What happens with this year’s budget?

I know, I know, who wants to talk about the budget right now? But this matters because Tory, as a “strong mayor” was responsible for introducing this budget and championing it through the committee phase.

We’ll be watching to see if there’s a push to make significant changes.

McKelvie is a strong Tory ally, so it’s likely she’ll push for the budget to pass as is.

One reader asked if the new mayor will be able to make changes to John Tory’s budget after it is passed? The answer is yes, but the next mayor likely won’t be re-elected until late spring so they’ll probably focus on the 2024 budget.

Are we living in a broken version of The Matrix where nothing makes sense?

Uh, don’t know but totally get the sentiment.

Our Shawn Jeffords tried to wrap his head around what’s going on this morning on CBC Radio’s Fresh Air.You can check that discussion out in the player below:

Fresh Air10:19What John Tory’s resignation means for City Hall

CBC Toronto’s Municipal Affairs Reporter Shawn Jeffords joins host Manjula Selvarajah to discuss John Tory’s resignation.

Why is it any of my business?

Whether or not you think Tory’s affair is any of your business, Tory himself said it risked “tarnishing” the city’s top job and so he stepped down.

Here’s his full quote: “I think it is important for the office of the mayor not to in any way be tarnished and not to see the city government itself put through a prolonged period of controversy, arising out of this error in judgment on my part, especially in light of the challenges we face as a city.”

And he’s right that Toronto has challenges. Let’s just look at what’s happened in last few weeks.

We’ve had fierce debates around whether or not to open 24/7 warming centres for people who don’t have a home. City staff are putting forward hugely important changes to the rules around zoning in a bid to make housing more affordable. Transit riders are still keeping a close eye on the safety of the TTC’s system.

So there’s a lot the mayor should be working on.

Now, it’s possible you don’t live in Toronto. You might still care. Toronto is, as Tory has said thousands of times, the “economic engine” of Canada. People love to hate the city (I’m from Newfoundland, I get it!) but I think it’s undeniably important for the country that this place runs well.

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