Mayor John Tory will be up for re-election in the municipal elections on October 22. Tory, who is currently leading in the polls, was a graduate of Trinity College and the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario from 2004–2009. Following the late mayor Rob Ford’s drug abuse controversy and subsequent leave of absence for rehabilitation, Tory was elected in October 2014 as Mayor of Toronto.
Taxes, jobs, and affordability
Basing his platform on past accomplishments, such as funding the Poverty Reduction Plan and expanding the Student Nutrition Program, Tory’s campaign website declares his “commitment to keeping Toronto affordable.”
This includes promises to keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation for four more years — a mainstay from his campaign in 2014 — and implementing a Poverty Reduction 2.0 plan.
The plan would address “Housing Stability, Service Access, Transit Equity, Food Access, Quality Jobs and Livable Wages, Systemic Change,” though no detailed funding and execution plans are available.
Tory also touts his success, claiming that 200,000 jobs were created during his current term, and hopes to push for more from the tech, film, and banking sectors. He plans to do this by keeping commercial property taxes low.
He also hopes to expand youth employment through his Partnership to Advance Youth Employment program, which aims to reduce youth unemployment by half.
One of his major criticisms of Jennifer Keesmaat — the former Chief Planner, and Tory’s biggest challenger, according to polls — is her willingness to create new taxes and raise existing ones, claiming that the move would “make Toronto less affordable for Toronto residents.”
Keesmaat’s proposed taxes include one on luxury homes over $4 million and another charge for stormwater management.
Affordable housing and homelessness
With nearly 100 homeless deaths in Toronto in 2017 alone, Tory was called out this past winter for his delayed decision to expand winter shelters into city armouries for the homeless. He was also criticized for not attending a mayoral forum on affordable housing and homelessness held at U of T on October 15.
In this election, Tory has put affordable housing at the centre of his second term, calling for 400 new spaces for Toronto’s homeless population to relieve the often overcrowded shelters.
Tory’s affordable housing platform is based on building 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years, which is mainly a continuation of his current work.
He hopes to attract “social impact investors” to create new affordable housing, and to appoint an “Affordable Housing Secretariat to coordinate the City’s activities on Affordable Housing.”
Transit and traffic
Tory’s transit plan is largely a continuation of his work as mayor, including the controversial one-stop Scarborough subway plan, which was voted for by City Council over light rail transit but criticized for being poorly planned. During his current term, Tory struck a fare agreement with the provincial government for $3 GO fares and secured a $9 billion downpayment from the provincial and federal governments for transit.
The incumbent candidate was also criticized for SmartTrack — a plan to create a surface transit system using rail corridors. Keesmaat was an especially vocal critic, saying that SmartTrack “never left the station,” hoping to cancel the eastern extensions, and calling it a “distraction” or “mirage.”
Crime and policing
After what he described as a “shocking” wave of gun deaths over the summer, Tory reversed his police hiring freeze and proposed a handgun ban to be considered by the federal government.
In his campaign commitments, Tory promised to establish a Community Safety Advisory Body and match the $25 million that the provincial government has invested into community safety programs — with an emphasis on community programming for young people.