Cynthia Lai

Toronto city councillor dies days before municipal election day

Days before the municipal election, long-time Toronto city councillor Cynthia Lai has died.

Lai was a successful realtor for many years before winning Ward 23 Scarborough North. She was running for re-election this year.

Mayor John Tory, who has known Lai for 20 years, announced on Twitter that she passed away Friday afternoon. 

"I have known Cynthia for more than 20 years and was always impressed by her strength and professionalism whether in politics or as the first Chinese-Canadian woman elected to the position of President of the Toronto Real Estate Board," read Tory's statement.

"For the last four years, Cynthia represented the people of Ward 23 Scarborough North with such elegance and distinction. She was such a friendly and warm presence at City Hall and I know I speak for her City Council colleagues when I say she will be deeply missed."

Josh Matlow, city councillor for Ward 12 Toronto-St. Paul's, said he is shocked and deeply saddened by Lai's sudden death.

The cause of death has not been revealed at this time.

According to Tory, flags at City Hall, Metro Hall and the Scarborough Civic Centre will be lowered to half-mast in Lai's honour.

Lead photo by

Cynthia Lai


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