Canada

Lastman says he won't run again for mayor of Toronto

Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman said he will not run for mayor in November's elections.

Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman said Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in November's municipal elections.

"I have decided this will be my last year in office because, ladies and gentlemen, Toronto's future is secure," he told a business group Tuesday.

Lastman, known for his gaffes and bluster, started his speech in the past tense, giving away the punchline.

His decision ends a 30-year run as mayor, first leading the Toronto suburb of North York and for the past five, as head of Canada's biggest city and largest political constituency.

Lastman was elected in November 1997 as the first mayor of the newly amalgamated City of Toronto and was in charge of melding six municipal governments into one.

He criticized the provincial Conservatives Tuesday for the mess he inherited as mayor of the amalgamated city, but boasted he had turned it around.

"Toronto is working," he said. "I'm fond of saying Toronto is the engine that drives Canada."

Although Lastman did succeed in keeping taxes steady for three years, his time as mayor will likely be remembered for a series of high-profile gaffes.

Lastman, though, talked about the city's improved credit rating, new facilities, booming industries and its success in getting the federal and provincial governments to take urban problems seriously.

Ryerson University professor of politics, Myer Siemiatycki, said it's hard to see past the embarrassing gaffes and political failures to find the positives in Lastman's tenure.

"It really is hard to put your finger on something tangible," he said.

"It's more the negatives that stand out."

But Lastman has an uncanny ability to identify with voters and to get himself elected, portraying himself as a common man, he said.

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