“People may still remember him as a good mayor, but they’ll never forget how it ended”: How Torontonians feel about John Tory’s resignation
Does he have to step down? We asked people what they think
When Mayor John Tory announced his resignation last Friday, admitting that he’d had an inappropriate relationship with a junior staffer, it was one of the biggest political bombshells in Toronto’s recent history. Since the Rob Ford years, the city has become inured to its leaders being embroiled in scandals, but the news still came as a complete surprise. During his eight years in office, Tory was best known for being hard-working, pragmatic and bland. And there’s a question lingering on many people’s minds: Does he really have to step down? After a recent poll revealed that Torontonians were pretty much evenly split on the matter, we hit the streets to find out more.
Steven Fulton, 18, media student at Toronto Metropolitan University
“When I first heard about it, I thought there might be more to the story, that something more mischievous might have been going on, like maybe he was being blackmailed. I think Tory should step down because he had a relationship with one of his employees. He clearly exploited that power dynamic. This will definitely cast a shadow over his legacy.”
Malcolm Briggs, 45, business development
“Yes, I think he should step down. I’m not too worried about the fact that he cheated on his wife. My concern is that he was in a position of control. I’m not saying that the relationship wasn’t consensual, but the leader of a city this size—someone positioned squarely in the public eye—should have better morals and make better decisions.”
Mary Anne K., 56, estate and trust taxation; Jeff E., 53, sales
Mary Anne: “He should have stepped down last Friday, when he said he would. In my opinion, he abused his power with a staff member. And he’s abusing his power by staying on until Wednesday, choosing to be at city hall for budget discussions. If he resigned, then he’s no longer mayor—he shouldn’t have anything to do with it. This is his legacy now. I hear a lot of people saying, ‘Well, it was just an affair.’ That’s not the point. What else has he done to abuse his power that we don’t know about?”
Stephanie Lamb, 52, sales at an industrial distribution company
“I was shocked when I heard the news. I couldn’t care less about his personal life. I don’t have a problem with him having a relationship with a younger woman. But, as her boss, he shouldn’t have done it. He succumbed to such an unfortunate stereotype—the powerful older man having an affair with the younger woman. I always thought of him as having a good head on his shoulders. In the short term, this will hurt his legacy. But, in the long run, maybe 30 years from now, he’ll be fine.”
Levi Bosch, 21, media student at Toronto Metropolitan University
“Sometimes, politicians can do good for the world despite being unethical in their personal lives. The affair is definitely not the worst thing he could have done. I don’t think it makes him any better or worse as a politician, but he still has to resign. Otherwise, there will be a long hubbub of people calling for him to step down. This is the simplest thing for him to do—it seems inevitable.”
Jasmyn Kellerman, 18, dental hygiene student at George Brown; Adwoa Doffour, 18, pre–health sciences at George Brown
Jasmyn: “When I heard why he was stepping down, I was sort of proud to see him take responsibility for his actions. He handled it well. He wants to work on himself and his family. But, yes, he should resign, because he clearly wasn’t fully committed to his job.”
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.