Mayor John Tory narrowly won re-election on Oct. 22, 2015, but that victory — and the fact he lasted only two years — has soured political observers. Some are calling it a missed opportunity to modernize the city and to spur economic growth.
So far, Tory has stayed silent about his future plans, but speculation has mounted that he’ll leave City Hall by the end of 2018.
I caught up with Tory in December when he said, “In terms of my position here, we’ve got a lot of ideas for the future. I was elected to finish the job. We’ve got a lot of issues to be dealt with.”
Some future ideas? Eliminating council’s pay raises and the “silly rules” that dictate how long new council members are on the job and how much pay they receive.
There’s also some talk that Tory could run for provincial or federal office in the future.
Here are other highlights of our conversation:
He said he’s proud of his accomplishments as mayor, from developing an electricity plan to ensuring the 2018 Pan-Am Games are a success.
After two terms, the longtime businessman has noted that his experience on the council will be an asset if he decides to enter provincial politics. “I’ve been around in this city forever,” he said. “I’ve been on the ground and I think I have a perspective on where we are and where we need to go.”
Asked about why he didn’t fill up his own “pocket” when he is the nation’s “most populous city,” Tory said his finance and development teams understood his budget constraints. But he said it was a “fair point.”
And he also said former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the most effective urban governor in the United States right now.
Asked about Toronto’s perceived poverty problem, Tory said, “I’ve got the words frozen in my head and I say, I’m gonna fight to make that happen, to bring the jobs and the opportunity … to make sure we are truly creating the kind of financial vibrancy and prosperity that our residents deserve. I’ve never been on the side of not tackling poverty and I hope I never have to do that.”
“I’m gonna fight to make that happen, to bring the jobs and the opportunity … to make sure we are truly creating the kind of financial vibrancy and prosperity that our residents deserve. I’ve never been on the side of not tackling poverty and I hope I never have to do that.”
Tory thinks that being the first, Jewish, openly gay mayor of Toronto “really helped to demonstrate Toronto’s willingness to diversity and inclusion, and I think that wasn’t something many other places were brave enough to do.”
On the notion that he rode a wave of support of a city rocked by the Pride month killing of 25-year-old Thara Meric in 2015: “It wasn’t people coming out and saying, ‘Oh, I love him. I love our gay mayor.’ People have strong judgments and opinions and passions that they have about our city, and that’s not even from the LGBTQ community. I get that.”
Tory also stressed the “emotional support” that LGBT people and others provided him.
On the still ongoing municipal condo crisis, he said, “I want to be very, very sure the people who are getting hurt in this process are being properly protected. … It’s unfortunate that people have lost tens of thousands of dollars in real estate, in hopes that condo life would be better for them.”
See the full The Duff interview series here.