Published February 15, 2023

If 'lefty' mayor elected in Toronto it would be a 'disaster': Doug Ford

John Tory announced his resignation as mayor after admitting to a relationship with a former staffer

By Jordan Omstead and Sharif Hassan in Toronto

It would be a “disaster” for Toronto if Mayor John Tory followed through on his plan to resign and a “lefty” succeeded him, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday as he voiced support for the now scandal-plagued leader of the city.

Ford’s comments came as Tory -- who announced Friday that he’d step down following a relationship with a former staffer -- appeared at city hall for a repeatedly disrupted meeting where his budget was being debated.

The premier said Tory had been a "phenomenal partner" and it was not time to change the leadership of the city because everything was going "tickety-boo."

"If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people of Toronto," he said in Brampton, Ont., after making an unrelated announcement,.  

"If a left-wing mayor gets in there, we're toast. I'll tell you, it'd be a disaster in my opinion."

Ford called Tory "the best thing we have in Toronto," adding "let's not upset the apple cart for a personal issue he's dealing with."

Despite the resignation announcement from Tory, 68, his office has said he will stay on as mayor to see his budget debated at city council Wednesday.

The premier didn't directly comment on the reason Tory announced his resignation, saying what happens in the mayor's private life is "strictly up to the mayor and their family." 

Meanwhile, the city budget meeting was suspended twice almost as soon as it began Wednesday morning.

The meeting got underway around noon after two lengthy delays and security forcibly removed some protestors who had interrupted Tory with shouts of “house the homeless, feed the poor, kick John Tory out the door."

Council is now on recess until later this afternoon. 

Tory did not address his controversy as the meeting resumed, as he recognized the city's retiring chief engineer. 

The budget is the first Tory prepared under new "strong mayor" powers granted by the provincial government. 

Those powers grant Tory a veto over changes and the ability to push through his fiscal plan with only one-third council support. 

Tory deflected questions from reporters about his plans to resign as he walked into the meeting, saying he was going to "deal with the budget" and "get that done."

The premier’s support adds to the calls from Tory’s council allies, who are pressing the mayor to stay on despite stating his intention to resign.

“Our recommendation is that he take some time off, wait for the integrity commissioner’s report and then that will be tabled at council – we’ll make a decision,” said Coun. James Pasternak, speaking to reporters alongside Coun Frances Nunziata before Wednesday’s meeting. 

Coun. Gord Perks, a vocal critic of the mayor, said he must follow through with his resignation, saying Tory could not take a leave of absence from his responsibilities. 

"He has to own it," Perks said. 

Controversial proposals in the budget include a hike to the police budget, cuts to transit service and a growing infrastructure backlog. Some councillors also indicated they would use Wednesday to reopen the debate on keeping warming centres open 24-7 until mid-April. 

Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS Arlyn McAdorey

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2023. 

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