“Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralyzed city hall the last few years,” mayor-elect John Tory declared Monday night. “And to all of that, I say: Toronto, I hear you — I hear you loud and clear.”
Heeding the Rob Ford lesson — that a healthy mandate can turn to dust if you lose support of the 44-member council — Toronto’s new leader continued: “You want results, and together with the city council we will deliver.”
Tory has a list of councillors’ phone numbers and, on Tuesday morning, will start dialing, with a goal of talking to all of them by the end of the week, Tory campaign adviser Nick Kouvalis said after the results were announced.
“John has a strong mandate — he’s going to have a working (council) majority much bigger than (Rob) Ford did,” because he will work to build consensus across council’s left, centre and right, Kouvalis added.
There are battles ahead. Many councillors oppose the SmartTrack transit expansion plan — the centrepiece of Tory’s campaign — and think it foolhardy to even consider expanding private garbage collection east of Yonge St. The proposed expansion of the island airport, on which Tory has yet to weigh in, will pit factions against each other.
Tory will need to be seen as having strong council support to get the financial help from Ottawa and Queen’s Park he promised he can deliver.
And there are geographical wounds to heal, as the past four years saw downtown and suburban citizens bang heads on a host of issues.
But several councillors canvassed Monday said they hope that this term ideas will be debated on their merits, without the personal attacks, threats and trench warfare that characterized Rob Ford’s term in office.
Josh Matlow, a prominent centrist re-elected in Ward 22, St. Paul’s, is eager to give Tory a chance at gathering all sides together under a big tent.
“I’ve spoken with a number of colleagues in the last week or two, and we all want a more productive, thoughtful and civil relationship, to make Torontonians proud and focus on our residents’ priorities,” he said.
“John Tory strikes me as a person that, whether we agree or disagree, will focus on the things we agree on and move forward to get things done.”
Joe Mihevc, a leader of council’s left who was re-elected in Ward 21, St. Paul’s, said he is “open to dialogue and discussion” with Tory, the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
But it will be up to the mayor-elect to quickly signal a new direction.
“I can imagine, within a couple of weeks, work being done on who fills major chairs and major positions” at city hall, Mihevc said Low fee payday loans. “I imagine (Tory’s team) wants to send signals there is real inclusion, and not tokenism.”
The new council faced by Tory, a centre-left conservative, looks like a somewhat more Tory-friendly version of the old council, where centrists held the balance of power.
Of the eight new faces, six ran centre or centre-right campaigns — Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre), John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence), Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West), and Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough Agincourt).
Tory endorsed Carmichael Creb and Burnside for council, while several of the others endorsed Tory for mayor.
Flanking them on the right are Rob Ford, returning to his pre-mayor position as councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North, while he fights cancer, and on the left Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), who last spring ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP.
Ford, speaking after his brother Doug Ford lost the mayor’s race to Tory, sounded ready to poke holes in the big tent before it’s even erected.
“I’ll continue taking care of every taxpayer in this city. like I always have,” said Ford, who from 2000 to 2010 was a lone wolf on council, howling at what he called wasteful spending.
“I’ll continue to fight. Tory said he’s going to do some things — folks, the first thing I want to see him do is contract-out garbage on the other side of Yonge St., that’s the first thing.” Ford also seemed to commit the family to fighting to regain the mayor’s chair in 2018.
Ryerson University politics professor Myer Siemiatycki thinks Tory might have a tough time delivering on his vow to end the divisions.
The fact that Doug Ford did surprisingly well against him, and that Rob Ford will be on council, means their “Ford Nation” supporters will be emboldened.
Council’s left will look at the solid third-place showing of their standard-bearer, Olivia Chow, as proof that her progressive ideas have support.
“I think it’s going to be a real challenge for Tory,” Siemiatycki said. “Rob Ford had a big plurality (of votes) and John Tory does not.
“Tory doesn’t go into it with as many cards and a mandate as he may have wished. It will be a test of his ability to bring those groups together.
“I think he probably wishes he had more of a commanding win.”
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