Changes in sight at the City of Toronto

Changes in sight at the City of Toronto

Changes coming to the City of Toronto

Arlyn McAdorey The Canadian Press Toronto City Hall

Toronto Mayor John Tory's resignation will be official at 5 p.m. Friday, a week after he was announced. A political upheaval that could open the door to the election of a first progressive mayor in just over 16 years in the Queen City, according to observers of its political scene. Thoughts have already begun with some potential candidates, but we already know that the campaign will not be a piece of cake.

No offense to Doug Ford, who said Wednesday that the election of a left-wing mayor would be a “disaster”, “there's a good chance it will happen”, says Patrick Gossage, who has advised the ex-Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Toronto's last progressive mayor, David Miller. The budget increase for police services adopted on Wednesday, he said, is a “turning point” that could allow a candidate opposing it to be elected.

To get there, a progressive candidate will have to garner support in downtown Toronto, but also in suburbs like North York and Etobicoke, which tend to send more conservative elected officials to city hall. The left will also have to oppose a candidate supported by strategists associated with Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative Party, which granted special powers to the mayors of big cities last August.

The Ontario premier could also interfere in the race by amending the Municipalities Act when Parliament resumes next Monday, according to Kim Wright, director of the public relations firm Wright Strategies and expert in municipal politics. It wouldn't be the first time that Doug Ford has dabbled in Toronto politics: in July 2018, he almost halved the size of the city council of the Ontario metropolis.

A still popular ex-mayor

John Tory, a former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, was something of a stability candidate when he was elected in 2014. He succeeded Rob Ford , the brother of the current Prime Minister, who was notably filmed during his mandate smoking crack.

In the eyes of his detractors, John Tory has a minimal record, eight years later. One of its flagship promises was to open 22 new train stations on existing infrastructure by 2021. The project has since grown to five, and none are open yet.

However, the mayor is still favored by Torontonians. He was re-elected with little opposition — and 62% of the vote — last October and, according to a recent Forum Research poll, around 45% of Queen City residents would have liked him to remain in office despite his admission of a relationship. extra marital. The popularity of the one who was p.-d.g. de Rogers, radio host and commissioner of the Canadian Football League, has in fact turned down many candidates in the past. electorate that lined up behind John Tory a little less than four months ago.

The advantage of incumbents

In Ontario, in the absence of municipal political parties, incumbents have “tremendous power” when seeking re-election, said Michael McGregor, professor of political science at Metropolitan University of Toronto. No party representative is on the sidelines to broadcast the candidates' comments on different files.

The changing of the guard that the departure of John Tory is forcing is therefore a golden opportunity to give a new face to the Toronto city hall.

According to political analyst Kim Wright, Toronto voters will first and foremost ask themselves whether the various aspiring mayors will be able to solve the big problems plaguing Toronto, she says. “It's not a question of a Conservative candidate or a progressive candidate,” emphasizes the expert, who does not believe that the existence of municipal political parties would promote the proper functioning of the City.

The election for Toronto's next mayor could be as early as June, leaving little time for candidates who thought they had four years to figure out their priorities, build their teams, and raise the million dollars. dollars needed for the adventure.

So they will have to be “hyperfocused,” says Ms. Wright. “They thought they had a much bigger runway.

This story is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.