John Tory is the new mayor of Canada’s largest city — a change in leadership that officially ends the scandal-plagued Ford administration and aims to begin an era of consensus-building at Toronto City Hall.
“The people have spoken and tonight, we begin the work of building one Toronto,” Tory said in his victory speech at the Liberty Grand Monday night. “Together, like never before, we now begin building Toronto the great. We will build a strong, inclusive city… from Etobicoke to Scarborough and from North York to the waterfront.”
“As your new mayor, I will work with the council that you elected tonight in moving Toronto not left, not right, but forward,” he told supporters. “I will be a balanced and accountable leader, and we’re going to do this together. Tonight is not a victory for any one person. It is a victory for Toronto.”
The former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative won the mayoralty with about 40.3% of the vote at Monday night in a race that had observers holding their breath as candidate Doug Ford squeezed in behind with about 33.7%. Former NDP MP Olivia Chow trailed with 23.2% of votes.
There was a major uptick in voter turnout in 2014 with about 60% of eligible voters making it to the polls. Only about 50% of Torontonians showed up for Rob Ford’s victory in 2010.
Tory won the election with more votes than Ford did four years ago, about 395,000 to 383,000. Doug Ford hauled in 331,000 votes in the initial tally.
In a concession speech in front of a loud crowd, Doug Ford said his campaign could be proud of what they accomplished in such a short period. He also tried to get the crowd to stop booing when he mentioned Tory’s name.
“This has been a gruelling campaign and the people have made a decision,” Ford said in a short congratulations to Tory near the end of his speech, before listing the accomplishments of the Ford administration.
Chow was first to address her supporters gathered in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood Monday night. She congratulated Tory on running an “excellent campaign” and said she respected his commitment and determination to the campaign and hopes he’ll show the same qualities as mayor.
“Our city has a new mayor. It’s not the result we hoped for but I want to thank John Tory for running an excellent campaign,” Chow said. “Congratulations John, I wish you all the best.”
She also took the chance to remind him of the poverty in Toronto, all the children who go to school hungry and the students who need jobs. “John, you’ve just been given a chance to do something about it.”
She also congratulated Doug Ford on stepping into the race when his brother needed him, and wished outgoing mayor Rob Ford, who has been undergoing chemotherapy for a rare abdominal tumour, a speedy recovery.
Tory, only briefly thanked Doug Ford for his “courage” in running, but heaped praise on Chow during his victory speech.
“You offered a vision of Toronto that appealed to the best in a lot of us,” he said. “I suspect after a well-deserved rest you will have much more to contribute.”
While most of the incumbents in council held fast to their seats, a few fresh faces will arrive at City Hall post-election, mostly representing uncontested wards.
Perhaps the most stunning is the departure of two-term councillor John Parker, who lost to challenger Jon Burnside in Ward 26 Don Valley West. Failed federal NDP candidate in Trinity-Spadina Joe Cressy won Ward 20, defeating former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson and Christin Carmichael Greb won Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence, a riding most recently held by former mayoral candidate Karen Stintz. Former deputy mayor Doug Holyday’s son Stephen Holyday was elected in his father’s old riding of Ward 3 and longtime Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis won Ward 39, a position held in past by Ford’s former budget chief Mike Del Grande.
Tory has led every public opinion poll since the end of July but his campaign admitted it was closer than expected.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this close. Good thing we had a good lead,” Tory strategist Nick Kouvalis told CP24 early Monday night as Tory was only a few points ahead. However, Tory extended his lead during the night.
Tory’s campaign co-chair, John Capobianco, said the atmosphere in Tory’s suite remained positive throughout the night.
“It was close,” he said. “But we always ran as if it was going to be a close race. So for us a win’s a win. I think John got more votes tonight than Rob got four years ago.”
Tory, a lawyer and businessman, positioned himself as someone who would unify a council severely fractured during Mayor Rob Ford’s time in office — one that saw international late night talk shows poke fun at the city’s magistrate, who admitted to smoking crack, made graphic comments about his wife and a fellow mayoral candidate, was investigated by police, was all but stripped of his powers during his time in office. Only a cancer diagnosis would pull Ford from the race, leaving his older brother Doug to leap in at the eleventh hour.