A comprehensive investigation by Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner, Jonathan Batty, has concluded that the former mayor, John Tory, violated the city’s code of conduct by entering into a personal relationship with a political staffer and subsequently voting on matters connected to her employment.
According to a 122-page report made public on Thursday, Tory began a consensual relationship with the staffer, discreetly referred to as “Ms. A”, in the summer of 2020. The relationship later led to his resignation almost three years after its initiation.
Batty highlighted that Tory failed to comply with the “Human Resources Management and Ethical Framework for Members’ Staff,” effectively breaching the council’s Code of Conduct. A further breach was identified when Tory took part in two council votes concerning Toronto’s bid for the FIFA World Cup. It emerged that “Ms. A” had subsequently been employed by a company linked to the event organization.
Batty stated in his report, “Voting on a matter that could have had a direct impact on Ms. A’s employment while still in a relationship with her amounted to an improper use of influence.”
Despite these findings, the investigation cleared Tory of several other potential violations. The report emphasized that he did not breach the city’s Human Rights and Anti-harassment/discrimination Policy. Additionally, there wasn’t any misuse of his influential position as mayor to unduly favor Ms. A during her tenure in his office or to assist her in securing a position at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Addressing potential sanctions, Batty noted that while the council usually has the authority to suspend pay or reprimand violators of the Code of Conduct, such measures seem pointless in Tory’s case. He elucidated, “While it may be within the authority of Council to reprimand a former Member, it is my view that reprimanding a person who requested I investigate their conduct as they resigned office would serve no purpose.”
John Tory, having admitted the relationship, proactively asked Batty to delve into the matter upon his resignation in February. Responding to the report’s findings, Tory expressed remorse: “I sincerely regret the impact my actions had on so many people in my life and on the people of the City of Toronto who it was my honor to serve for so many years.” He continued, “I have tried to deal with this in an honorable manner and I am looking forward to finding new ways to contribute to the success of the city I love.” Tory also extended gratitude towards Batty and his team for maintaining “professionalism and thoughtfulness throughout this process.”
The revelations surrounding Tory’s conduct and his ensuing resignation led to an unusual mayoral byelection, with over a hundred contenders vying for the position. The election culminated in June with Olivia Chow securing her position as Toronto’s current mayor.
The city’s code of conduct for mayors and council members emphasizes the avoidance of actual and perceived conflicts of interest, mandating them to manage their personal affairs in ways that withstand stringent public scrutiny.