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Toronto is getting deja vu as Mayor John Tory resigns amid cheating scandal

In a truly shocking Friday night revelation, Toronto Mayor John Tory — the reliable, vanilla politician first elected to replace scandal-plagued Rob Ford in 2014 — admitted to having an affair with one of his staffers and tendered his resignation.

The 68-year-old "strong mayor" will thus be relinquishing his special powers less than four months after being re-elected for a third term, leaving many in the city to wonder "what's next?" — and even more to wonder "but what went down though?"

As for what's next, the City of Toronto Act dictates that Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie will (after some rigamarole) assume Tory's responsibilities until a byelection can be held.

As for what went down, The Toronto Star reports that Tory had a "months-long relationship" with a 31-year-old employee in his office. The employee, who has not been named, left City Hall to seek alternative employment sometime in 2021.

The Star, which also broke the Rob Ford crack scandal alongside Gawker back in 2013, received a letter from Tory's lawyer on Friday after posing some questions about a potential affair.

"The mayor developed a relationship with an employee in his office during the pandemic," wrote Tory's lawyer, Peter A. Downward, in a letter responding to The Toronto's Star's query.

"The relationship was a serious error of judgement on the Mayor's part. It came at a time when he and his wife of more than 40 years were enduring many lengthy periods apart while he carried out responsibilities during the pandemic."

Downward reportedly told The Star in his letter that the relationship "ended by mutual consent earlier this year," but Tory wasn't seeking to defend himself or his mayorality.

"I want to update Torontonians on a difficult personal matter," said Tory in a statement (which can be viewed in full right here) late Friday.

"During the pandemic, I developed a relationship with an employee in my office in a way that did not meet the standards to which I hold myself as Mayor and as a family man."

Tory went on to acknowledge his wife of more than 40 years, Barbara Hackett, and his four children, asking for privacy as he commits himself to "the work required to repair these most important relationships."

Unlike Ford, Tory decided to step down as mayor in light of the scandal, pledging to work with "the City Manager, the City Clerk and Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie to ensure an orderly transition in the coming days."

The departing mayor apologized to his wife, family, staff, colleagues, and the people of Toronto before ending his press conference with no question period.

"I want to thank the people of Toronto for trusting me as Mayor," he said.

"It has been the job of a lifetime, and while I have let them and my family down in this instance, I have nonetheless been deeply honoured by the opportunity to serve the people of this wonderful city and I believe I did some good for the city I truly love particularly during the pandemic."

While many seem to agree that Tory did some great work during his tenure as mayor, many also seem elated to learn that he will no longer be in charge of this ailing city.

Political chatter aside (and there's a lot of it), most people online are using the opportunity to reminisce about Rob Ford, who passed away in 2016 after a truly legendary career.

The former Toronto Mayor and brother of current Ontario Premier Doug Ford is perhaps one of the best-known and most-entertaining characters in the city's history and, despite his faults, he remains fiercely adored by many.

Comparisons and jokes between the two scandalized mayors are rampant on Twitter this evening.

"Rob Ford hit the pipe and now John Tory had his pipe hit RIP Toronto elects class acts it seems," wrote one Twitter user.

Many, many people are making jokes based on one of Ford's crudest public comments, when he responded to allegations that he'd offered oral sex to a female staffer in November of 2013.

"I've never said that in my life to her, I would never do that, I'm happy married, I've got more than enough to eat at home," said Ford while leaving his office at City Hall on live television.

"I never thought Rob Ford and John Tory would ever be comparable... but I guess Tory didn't have enough to eat at home?" reads one of many tweets containing different versions of the same joke this evening.

The news of Tory's resignation comes one decade (less nine months) after Ford first rocked the world by admitting he had smoked crack cocaine.

While not nearly as wild as Rob Ford's behaviour, which inspired hundreds of international headlines, late night jokes and even a feature film, some are comparing the two scandals in light of the fact that... well, they're both scandals involving the Mayor of Toronto.

It's hard to say the two scenarios or politicians are comparable in this sense, but what happened this evening with Tory was enough to send Torontonians into a frenzy of "lol wtf?" fun and camaraderie

"A 31-year-old womn hooking up with John Tory is the only data point you need to know how bad the Toronto dating scene is," wrote one Twitter user in a now-viral (and actually good) joke on the matter.

"Damn, I can’t believe John Tory, the man who didn’t disclose he still collected a six-figure salary from Rogers while mayor and said nothing to Toronto voters about secretly asking Doug Ford for stronger mayoral powers before an election, was hiding an inappropriate relationship," reads another quite poignant tweet.

Whatever the case, American media outlets are paying attention to our city again. Toronto is valid. Toronto is real. Toronto has some wild mayors. We're cool.

Lead photo by

Hunter James

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