A poll conducted on Monday found that a slight plurality of Torontonians don’t think John Tory should resign as mayor, despite last week’s abrupt announcement that he plans to step down.
The interactive voice response telephone poll, conducted by Forum Research on Feb. 13, surveyed 1,042 Toronto residents, and found that 45 per cent do not believe the mayor should resign, while 43 per cent believe he should and 11 per cent said they don’t know.
The results of the poll come after reports surfaced on social media on Monday claiming Toronto residents were receiving robocalls polling them on a number of questions related to Tory’s resignation announcement.
The reports claimed calls were being made to Toronto landlines, asking residents whether they approved of Tory, if they were aware he was stepping down, if he deserves a second chance, if he should finish his term, and if they would support him in a 2023 mayoral byelection.
One user uploaded an audio clip of the call they received.
This led to speculation that the mayor’s office was responsible for the polling, however a spokesperson has denied any involvement.
“I want to be very clear: we saw tweets about these polls last night – that was the first we’ve heard of it,” Blue Knox said. “Mayor Tory and the mayor’s office have nothing to do with any of these polls.”
“Right now, the mayor is focused on getting the 2023 budget approved so that we are making needed investments in housing, transit and community safety,” they added.
Forum Research says the audio recording making the rounds on social media was not their polling either, though the company’s president Dr. Lorne Bozinoff says his poll used a similar methodology.
The Forum Research poll found that respondents under 25 were most likely (54 per cent) to think the mayor should resign, while male respondents were more likely (45 per cent) to think so than female respondents (41 per cent).
“Three in five (63 per cent) of those who voted for Tory in the October 2022 municipal election do not think he should resign, compared to 22 per cent of those who voted for others and 37 cent of those who did not vote,” said Forum Research in a news release.
Political preference also played a role in how respondents answered the question, with 51 per cent of likely Progressive Conservative voters and 60 per cent of likely Liberal voters saying that Tory should not resign. Less than one-third (29 per cent) of those who would vote NDP said the same.
“The poll probably reflects how a lot of Torontonians are feeling,” Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford said. “The mayor was elected with a huge majority just a few months ago. There is a lot of people who want him to continue in that capacity. I have heard that out in the community. So I am not surprised by those numbers and I am not surprised that sentiment is out there. But at the end of the day it is a decision for him (Tory) to make personally and I am sure we will hear more about that in the days ahead.”
Respondents were also asked who they would support in a mayoral by-election between a number of potential candidates other than John Tory.
Among those that said they were decided or leaning, 26 per cent said they would vote for Mike Layton, 17 per cent for Gil Penalosa, 13 per cent for Chloe-Marie Brown, 11 per cent each for Ana Bailao or Brad Bradford, and 23 per cent for some other candidate.
Bozinoff says the results of the poll show that support for Tory remains “significant.”
“It’s possible that Torontonians are open to Tory continuing in his role,” he said.
The poll was conducted on February 13th, 2023. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate +/- 3%, 19 times out of 20.
Tory to preside over budget debate
On Monday, the mayor’s office said Tory plans to attend Wednesday’s budget meeting to ensure the $16.2B operating budget and $49.3B capital plan “are finalized.”
Under new provincial legislation, the mayor can veto council amendments to the budget up to 10 days after those amendments are passed. Council would then have 15 days to override the mayor’s veto with a vote by at least two-thirds of all members.
It is unclear if Tory will remain in office through the entire budget process if this were to occur.
News that the mayor will remain in office in order to see through his budget comes hours after another member of his executive committee raised concerns about possible “wholesale changes” to the $16.2 billion fiscal plan.
“My concern is that the politics are going to be flying – partisan angles, ideology – and the notion that some of my colleagues have floated out there, you know, ‘let’s blow up the budget,’ it is just not helpful,” Beaches – East York Coun. Brad Bradford told CP24 on Monday morning.
“The events of Friday do not change the merit of this budget, which has been consulted on with thousands of Torontonians. There have been numerous points of engagement and it has been months in the making to put this document together.”
Bradford said that there is “room for amendments” to the budget that will be presented to council but he said that “wholesale changes in the 11th hour” would not be responsible.
His comments came after the advocacy group ‘No Pride in Policing’ released a statement, calling on council to “overhaul” Tory’s “destructive budget” and “take Toronto in a new direction.”
The group is also calling for the Toronto Police Service budget to be reduced by 50 per cent. Tory’s budget includes a $48.3-million increase for the Toronto Police Service.
“There are folks down there that see themselves in the opposition benches and you know, they want to take a moment like this and spike the football – pardon the Super Bowl reference there – but it’s just not helpful,” Bradford said. “We need responsible government. We need folks who are focused on the issues and delivering action for Torontonians.”
Wednesday’s budget deliberations are set to be the first under new strong mayor legislation that would have allowed Tory to veto any amendments backed by less than two-thirds of city council.
With files from CP24’s Chris Fox and Jordan Fleguel