With just 572 words, John Tory announced his resignation, explained what he did and, after getting a $16-billion city budget passed, officially resigned.
Those 572 words were divided into two statements, a public statement announced on Feb. 10, 2023, and the official letter of resignation filed on Feb. 15.
In the 572 words of this editorial, we’re not going to find out whether he committed an abuse of power.
Between the two dates, some politicians, including Premier Doug Ford and Councillor Frances Nunziata, said he shouldn’t resign.
Ford said Tory was the best option for Toronto. He said the relationship with a staffer was a personal issue.
Nunziata said we didn’t know who initiated the affair.
But there’s no specific rule regarding these situations in the Toronto Code of Conduct for Members of Council.
Section 157(1) of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council says that members, including the mayor, “should perform their duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and bears close public scrutiny.”
The terms are very broad. That’s why the question about whether not Tory should resign is being discussed in depth.
The Standing Orders of the House of Commons of Canada include an appendix titled “Code of conduct for the House of Commons: sexual harassment between members.”
University of Windsor Professor of Political Science Cheryl Collier and Toronto Metropolitan University Professor of Politics Tracey Rayney find this code of conduct insufficient.
Their research study from 2018 said the 2015 code fell short compared to policies outside Canada. They said “[The House of Commons] fails to deal with the broader organizational workplace norms that are predictors of sexual harassment in the first place.”
But at least the House has a regulation, while there is no specific regulation for Toronto City Hall.
Former Mayor John Tory said in his speech, “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.”
It begs the question, what are the standards to which he holds himself as a mayor?
His standards as family man are of no interest for the people.
If the standard he referred to is his personal code of conduct, this could be a catalyst for a future city hall accountability standard.
His lack of explanations divided Torontonians about the subject. According to a Feb. 14 poll conducted by Forum Research for the Toronto Star, 45 per cent thought Tory should not resign, and 43 per cent thought he should.
After resigning, he spoke to Torontonians on Feb. 17 about his legacy, using 1,157 words. None of them were about his resignation.
It’s understandable he doesn’t want to talk now about the subject as it involves complex personal issues.
But the Supreme Court of Canada holds that “an abuse of power is when a state actor does something that it was not supposed to, with or without bad intent.”
Nevertheless, Tory asked the Office of the Integrity Commissioner to investigate the subject.
John Tory needs to use more than 572 words to explain what he did and what regulations he broke in the code of conduct. By doing so, he will create a standard of accountability for future councillors, which could lead to more specific regulations for Toronto City.
To do so, Tory will need to use more than 572 words.