Lastman says he won't run again for mayor of Toronto
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman said Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in November's municipal elections.
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.
- FROM MAY 22, 2001: Paternity suit against Toronto mayor dismissed
- FROM JUNE 21, 2001: Lastman's gaffe could jeopardize Toronto's Olympic bid
- FROM JAN. 15, 2002: Toronto mayor blasted for handshake with Hells Angels
- FROM DEC. 5, 2002: Toronto mayor says he was often in the dark about important contracts
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.