TORONTO – John Tory, a 68-year-old born-and-bred Torontonian and member of the city’s business and political elite, resigned as its mayor on Friday after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.
Tory was born into a successful family with a major law firm, Torys, founded by his grandfather.
His father, John A. Tory, worked at the firm, but later moved on to work with the Thomson family to run their financial holding company. His father also served on the board of directors of Rogers Communications.
The younger Tory completed high school and post-secondary school in Toronto in the 1970s, eventually graduating with a law degree.
Tory worked for Rogers-owned radio stations before getting into politics. He worked in then-premier Bill Davis’s Progressive Conservative government in the early 1980s.
He’d later work as a lawyer while also serving on campaigns for then-prime minister Brian Mulroney, as well as his successor Kim Campbell in 1993.
In 1995, Tory moved over to run Rogers Media as its CEO and president. He took the helm of the company’s cable division around the turn of the millennium
During that stretch he also served as the Canadian Football League’s commissioner.
But Tory returned to politics and won the race to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
Tory served as its leader for five years starting in 2004. He was elected in a byelection in 2005 in a central Ontario riding, but vowed to run in Toronto in the 2007 general election.
He faced many warnings he would lose the head-to-head battle with the popular Liberal holding the Don Valley West seat he was eyeing then-education minister Kathleen Wynne.
He lost the race for that seat, and his party fared little better provincially. Tory’s controversial campaign promise to extend public funding to religious schools led the Progressive Conservatives to a disappointing showing.
Despite calls to resign and a dismal 66.9 per cent approval rating in a leadership vote the year before, Tory vowed to stay and learn from his mistakes.
Eventually in 2009, caucus member Laurie Scott gave up her Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock seat so Tory could run in a byelection there, but he lost that race as well and resigned as party leader.
He settled in as a radio host weekdays for several hours on Live Drive during Toronto’s notoriously long rush-hour.
But he waded back into politics to run as mayor.
When Tory launched his mayoral bid in 2014, he faced off against scandal-plagued incumbent Mayor Rob Ford. Tory ran on a platform of change, a transit vision for the city and low taxes.
With weeks to go before the election, Rob Ford pulled out of the race due to health concerns.
Doug Ford, the mayor’s older brother and councillor of his old ward, stepped in to run in his stead.
Tory beat Ford by 64,000 votes.
In 2018, he ran against the city’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, and won handily.
He became an ally to Doug Ford, who became premier of Ontario that year.
Tory cruised to a third mayoral term less than four months ago, garnering 62 per cent of the vote in last October’s municipal election.
Recent legislation from Ford’s government granted Toronto strong mayor powers in return for help building houses quickly. Tory supported the controversial measure.
He presided over the COVID-19 pandemic and tough financial straits at the city. Tory faced heavy criticism for his pro-police stance. He angered the homeless population and their supporters.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.
–with files from Allison Jones
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