John Tory releases emotional letter before stepping down as Mayor of Toronto
John Tory has officially left the building — that building being Toronto City Hall, where he has been serving as mayor Canada's largest city for the past eight years and four months.
True to his word after pushing through a budget he played a major role in shaping, the 68-year-old politician and lawyer resigned from his longtime post at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, almost one week exactly after The Toronto Star first broke news that he'd had an affair with a former City Hall staffer.
Tory, who was re-elected for his third term in October, announced that he would step down last Friday immediately after the sex scandal surfaced.
He continued to serve for an additional week, however, leading to some confusion that proved all for naught as he finally tendered a formal resignation notice with the City Clerk on Wednesday night.
"In accordance with s. 205(1) of the City of Toronto Act, [Tory] is resigning from the office of Mayor for the City of Toronto effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 17, 2023," read the letter.
At 4:33 p.m. this afternoon, with less than half-an-hour left to his mayorship, Tory released a letter "to the residents of Toronto," outlining some of his achievements and apologizing again for his mistakes.
There were a few more words from John Tory. These are his final, final words as mayor of Toronto, before he literally leaves the stage. pic.twitter.com/77D9KtNcIL— David Rider (@dmrider) February 17, 2023
To the residents of Toronto:
I've had a number of jobs in my life. I've been a lawyer, a political advisor, a corporate executive, a broadcaster, and the commissioner of a professional sports league.
These are all fine positions to have and I was proud to have them. But the career I wanted the most, and the one I was privileged enough to have, was in public service. To me, there is no greater occupation. Because it is being part of something bigger than yourself. For me, Toronto has been my cause.
I honestly believe that Toronto is the greatest city in the world. A city that others envy and imitate. A city whose challenges almost entirely arise from the fact that so many wish to be here and build their futures here.
I worked tirelessly, day and night, to help meet those challenges. To help maintain and advance our position as the greatest city in the world. I didn't always get it right. When I didn't, I took responsibility, as a leader must.
When I became Mayor, the city was struggling. We were deeply divided, downtown versus suburbs, left versus right, and on it went. The City government was in turmoil. The great hopes and dreams we had for our city were stalled. I felt I could help and I offered to serve with calmness and commitment.
What I was interested in and what I wanted to do is restore a commitment to the city's well-being and growth. Just to do the hard work day in and day out, week after week that Toronto requires of its Mayor. That Toronto needs from its Mayor.
Over the next six years, we saw growth of the sort that has not been experienced in decades. Maybe ever. I won't suggest for a moment that it was because of any one thing or series of things I or anyone in government did. Not at all. It was because of you, the people of this city. It was because of your ingenuity, your hard work, your desire to do more and be better. All I tried to do was to be a Mayor whose energy and drive matched that of the city itself. A Mayor who tried hard to ensure that every part, every community, every person was included in the success story that is Toronto.
When the pandemic came, and so much of what we have accomplished seemed at risk, I again tried to channel that sense of shared purpose I saw every day from our incredible heath care workers and from all of the people who showed up because they didn’t have the option of staying home. They knew the only way through this terrible crisis was to be in it together, to be there for one another. I tried to honour them in the only way I could: by being on the job every day, all day. By always being ready to serve them. Making the extra effort to communicate, to comfort, to explain.
To work hard. And to work together. That’s the Toronto way. That’s what makes being Mayor of this city the best job anyone could have. And it’s why it breaks my heart to leave. But leaving was the right thing to do, hard as it may be.
Toronto City Council isn’t the big machine of party politics. It’s an issue by issue, corner by corner, neighbourhood by neighbourhood test of our willingness and ability to work together on behalf of the people of this city — their needs, their priorities and their future. That’s what I tried to bring. That sensibility. That commitment to working hard, to listening and to setting aside the often brutal sport of politics to get some worthwhile things done.
What do I want to be remembered for? I know my departure and its circumstances will rank high. But I do hope that, in time, other things will stand out:
That we are finally back to building transit, many kilometres of new lines that we so badly need to connect people to opportunity and get this city moving.
That the government is back in the business of getting housing built so that people can afford a decent place to live.
That we kept taxes affordable while also making critical investments in front line services, establishing the kind of financial discipline that respects the people who pay the bills.
But more than anything what I hope is remembered of my time is that I did the work. I did the work of keeping this city stable and moving forward. That I did the work of reaching out to those who share my deep love for this city and tried to make things better.
And I tried to demonstrate my respect for every single community in Toronto. I wanted them to be included and to feel recognized without exception. This may well be the single most important job as a Mayor of this city: To bring people together, to help people learn about each other, and whenever discrimination or hatred show themselves anywhere, anytime – to stand up, speak up, show up and act.
In this era of polarization and division that responsibility of a Mayor will have much to do with whether this city can continue to be successful going forward.
Thank you to my staff, past and present, both from the election campaigns and in the Mayor’s Office. This Office, for which I have so much respect, as great as it is, can only be as great as the men and women who serve in it. It is indeed great and I know this staff will serve Deputy Mayor McKelvie and the people of this city as they have served me, with dedication and devotion.
Thank you to my colleagues on City Council and to the Toronto public service, who show up every day, every week and every month of the year, ready to serve and do an excellent and often unheralded job.
Most of all, thank you to the people of this city who have put their faith and trust in me. Thank you to all of you who reached out in these last days offering your support. I will never forget it.
Toronto is a great city and it will never stop growing greater as long as we all continue to care about its future and each other. What makes us strong is growing stronger. What challenges us is being overcome. I leave knowing that our city’s best days lie ahead. I leave with great hopes, high spirits, deep humility and ever deeper gratitude."
Thank you Toronto. It has been the honour of a lifetime to serve you.— John Tory (@JohnTory) February 17, 2023
Here is my final letter as Mayor to the people of our city. pic.twitter.com/OQDsEwDIXz
Now, it's up to Deputy Mayor to Jennifer McKelvie to "continue the uninterrupted delivery of City programs and services" until the role of mayor is filled following a by-election (a date for which has yet to be set but is expected to happen in or around June.)
McKelvie will not assume the "strong mayor" powers recently granted to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa by the provincial government, though Premier Doug Ford himself did state on Wednesday that the powers would be extended to whomever is eventually elected to replace Tory.
Join the conversation Load comments