Five things to know following the abrupt resignation of John Tory

John Tory has officially submitted his resignation to the city clerk, ending days of speculation around whether he might reconsider.

Tory’s resignation late Wednesday night came five days after he disclosed that he had engaged in a relationship with a now former staff member and would step down to “do the work of rebuilding the trust” of his family.

Tory, however, remained in the mayor’s chair to help pass the city’s budget.

Here is a look at what comes next:


When will Tory’s resignation take effect?

Tory said in his resignation letter that his departure would take effect at 5 p.m. on Friday.

However, in an interview with municipal lawyer John Mascarin said that Tory will technically remain mayor until council declares his office vacant.

That could happen at their next scheduled meeting on March 29 or during a special meeting prior to that, should councillors agree to schedule one.

“He says he is resigned at 5 p.m. but his office isn’t vacant yet. He is still the mayor,” Mascarin said. “I am sure he knows that and I am sure he is just going to step away. But technically the office isn’t vacant until council declares it vacant.”


How soon could there be a by-election?

Under the City of Toronto Act, council will have up to 60 days to schedule a by-election after declaring the office vacant. At that point the Municipal Elections Act will take over. That act requires a nomination period of 30 to 60 days. Voting day would then come 45 days after the nomination window closes.

Myer Siemiatycki, who is a professor emeritus at Toronto Metropolitan University, told CP24 on Thursday that when you add it all up we are probably looking “at a late spring election” in either May or June. Siemiatycki said that he expects several “name candidates” to enter the race and voter turnout to actually rebound after just 30 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot during October’s municipal election.

“It is going to be a spirited, tough, energetic and contentious campaign,” he predicted.



Could council just appoint someone to serve as mayor instead? 

No. Council previously had the option of either filling a vacancy by appointment or through a by-election. However, the province changed the legislation last year in order to make a by-election mandatory whenever there is a vacancy in the office of mayor. Vacancies in the office of city councillor can still be filled by appointment, which requires a majority vote.


What role will the deputy mayor hold for the time being?

City officials have already said that Jennifer McKelvie will not become “the acting mayor” or “interim mayor” in Tory’s absence. She will, however, act as the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Toronto and be able to exercise all powers granted by council to the mayor. She will also inherit the mayor’s privileges at council, including the ability to designate key items, call and cancel meetings and speak first or last about specific items.

Mascarin said that McKelvie actually has “very narrow” authority because of the section of the City of Toronto Act she was appointed under. For example, he said that he is not sure whether powers provided to the mayor under the Emergency Management Protection Act would be given to her office on an interim basis. McKelvie will also not be granted the strong mayor powers that allowed Tory to craft his own budget and veto some decisions made by city council.

“There are certain things I think that only the head of council and not anyone stepping into the shoes can do,” Mascarin said.


 So who is running to be mayor? 

It remains to be seen. Gil Penalosa, who finished second to Tory in October’s election, has signalled his intention to run again, as has another former candidate by the name of Blake Acton. Meanwhile, longtime city councillor Josh Matlow has said that he is considering a run along with Tory’s former deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong. Former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who lost to Tory in 2018, has said that she is not interested in running again. 

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