John Tory's closest advisers are urging him to stick with his resignation, sources say
‘The people who want John to stay on as mayor don’t have his best interests at heart’ says source
Since Toronto Mayor John Tory announced he will resign in the wake of an affair with one of his staff, a range of voices from council allies to a Toronto Star columnist to (reportedly) Premier Doug Ford have urged him not to quit.
But the advisers who've been by Tory's side the longest — and who the mayor trusts the most — are remaining steadfast in their belief that he needs to step down, multiple sources tell CBC News.
Tory, who has not formally resigned, will preside over Wednesday's budget meeting at city council.
Had he resigned before the budget passed, the acting mayor would not hold the "strong mayor" powers granted by the Ford government that allow Toronto's mayor to veto budget amendments with just one-third of council on side.
The rumblings that Tory could walk back his promised resignation are being fuelled in part by polling. "Support for Mayor Tory remains significant," said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research polling firm. "It's possible that Torontonians are open to Tory continuing in his role."
But even Tory himself appears to be throwing cold water on any idea that he will stay on as mayor.
The mayor's press secretary said in a statement that Tory has met with the deputy mayor, city manager and city clerk "to talk about how best to ensure an orderly transition" and that "details on the transition will be announced after the budget meeting."
Tory maintains a tight inner circle of close political advisers, sometimes referred to as his "kitchen cabinet." It includes his first city hall chief of staff Chris Eby, political consultant Patrick Harris, pollster Nick Kouvalis, public affairs specialist Bob Richardson, and his 2018 to 2022 chief of staff Luke Robertson.
The inner circle met on Friday to hear Tory's accounting of the affair and to discuss what to do about the Toronto Star story that would soon reveal it.
Their view was unanimous that Tory's only path, both politically and personally, was to step down, three sources close to the mayor tell CBC News.
"It makes no sense to stay," said a Tory confidante. "Any integrity he can salvage is in doing the right thing, and that's trying to fix the family."
The confidante says there's no reasonable way for Tory to justify changing his mind so quickly.
"You can't stand in front of the cameras on Friday night and say you made a terrible error in judgment and you have to resign to go be with your family, and then a week later say you have to stay."
CBC News is not publishing the names of the sources so they could speak freely about their behind-the-scenes discussions.
Tory's closest advisers are all telling him that trying to stay on as mayor would be fraught with political problems, according to the sources.
His personal brand of integrity and respectability would be shattered. He would be dogged with so many questions by the media about the scandal that it would distract from the work of City Hall.
He would potentially struggle to win support from enough members of council to move his agenda forward. He would face an investigation from the city's integrity commissioner over possibly violating the city's code of conduct.
"The people who want John to stay on as mayor don't have his best interests at heart," said a source close to Tory.
"His whole political narrative has been shot," said another of Tory's close allies. "The best case scenario [if he stayed on] was that he'd be a lame duck mayor."
The ally describes the affair as "reckless and selfish behaviour" and says they are angry at Tory.
"I never thought he would blow up a 40-year marriage and a career with such a reckless action," the source said.
In the Friday night speech announcing he will resign, Tory said it was important that the office of mayor not be tarnished in any way and that city government not be put through a prolonged controversy.
All three sources say they believe Tory will not heed any calls to stay and will ultimately resign.
His resignation would trigger the start of a somewhat flexible timeline toward a byelection for mayor:
At the next city council meeting after Tory resigns, the city clerk asks council to declare the mayor's position vacant.
Council has up to 60 days to pass a bylaw calling a byelection.
The nomination period can last one to two months.
The byelection date is to be set for 45 days following the close of nominations.
After Wednesday's budget meeting, the next council meeting is not scheduled until late March. It means any byelection could be as far away as September.
Still, potential candidates are considering whether they want to launch an unexpected mayoral campaign, and some are testing the waters for support. Those who have not ruled out running include former councillors Ana Bailão and Mike Layton and current councillors Brad Bradford and Josh Matlow.
Two sources say there are efforts to persuade former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders to run. Saunders was the Ontario PC Party candidate in Don Valley West in the 2022 provincial election, but he failed to win the seat.