Toronto’s newly elected mayor has vowed his stay in office will be “balanced and accountable” compared with his predecessor’s drugs and alcohol fuelled reign of controversy.
John Tory, 60, swept to victory overnight on Monday taking a majority 40 per cent of the vote in Canada’s financial capital city after he ran on a ticket of straight-laced, moderate conservatism.
The win follows on from Tory’s previous 2003 defeat running for mayor and secured a historic change of office from that of his polar opposite, the outgoing Rob Ford, who hit the headlines during a career plagued by scandals, public drinking and illegal drug use.
Speaking to a cheering crowd following his election victory, Tory said: “Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralysed city hall for the past four years, and to all that I say, ‘Toronto, I hear you. I hear you loud and clear’.”
Tory is a long-time moderate conservative politician and adviser. He was formerly chief executive of major cable company Rogers Communications, served as commissioner of the Canadian Football League, and hosted a radio show.
“I will be a balanced and accountable leader,” he said, promising a new wave of budget and city transport improvements. His arrival is in stark contrast to Mr Ford’s bombastic and colourful four-year tenure as mayor of Canada’s largest city, which was marred by his drinking and crack cocaine use which saw him became the target of US late-night television comedians.
In 2013 he acknowledged he had smoked crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors”, but refused to resign.
The city council stripped Mr Ford of most of his powers but lacked the authority to force him out of office because he wasn’t convicted of a crime despite the emergence of videos showing his apparent drug use.
Last March, he appeared on TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live! after months of wooing by the talk-show host who introduced his guest by saying he “has tripped, bumped, danced, argued and smoked his way into our national consciousness”.
Mr Ford announced last month that he wouldn’t seek re-election as mayor while he battles a rare form of cancer. Doctors predict he has a 50-50 chance of surviving the cancer in his abdomen, known as malignant liposarcoma, he said.
But he had opted to seek the city council seat held by his brother from the Etobicoke district in western Toronto where he launched his political career.
He won his old seat in a landslide on Monday – and said he will run for mayor again in four years, telling the Toronto Sun: “I will be the first person to sign up in 2018.”
University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman said it is unlikely Toronto municipal politics will be international news with Tory as mayor.
“Personality wise they are mirror opposites, but anybody is dull compared to Rob Ford,” Wiseman said. “It’s been an outrageously entertaining circus. Alas the curtain has come down.”
Mr Ford’s brother Doug, a city councillor, ran in his place for the mayoral elections and secured a credible 33 per cent of the vote on Monday. He later admitted the scandals involving his brother had played a part in his loss but said he was “super proud” of his sibling. “I still believe he’s the best mayor ever,” he said.
The left-leaning Olivia Chow was third on nearly 23 per cent.