TORONTO — Toronto Mayor John Tory easily won re-election on Monday (Oct. 22), beating back a challenge from the city’s former planner after a campaign marked by unprecedented interference from the provincial government.
Tory, 64, took about 63 per cent of the vote while his main rival, Jennifer Keesmaat, took about 23 per cent.
In all, voters in more than 400 communities cast ballots for their next municipal government after campaigns that had seen everything from legal battles to electoral reform. Candidates in 26 of the province’s municipalities ran unopposed and were acclaimed.
In Toronto, Keesmaat and other critics had tried to paint Tory as weak and unwilling to stand up for the city after Premier Doug Ford slashed the number of council seats from 47 to 25 mid-race.
Tory countered by arguing he prefers a low-key approach that allows him to get on with upper levels of government and get things done. A total of 242 candidates vied for a spot on the city’s shrunken council.
Tory said on Monday he expected business to carry on as usual when the smaller council reconvenes.
“Really, what people want to see is that we work together…to get things done,” he said earlier on voting day. “That’s why they sent us there.”
Four years ago, Tory took only 40 per cent of the popular vote to edge Ford, who finished in second place, with 33 per cent.
In Brampton just northwest of Toronto, ousted Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was running neck-and-neck in his bid to re-enter politics against incumbent Mayor Linda Jeffrey.
Brown was forced to step down from his post as leader of the provincial party amid sexual misconduct allegations he denies. He later claimed the mayoral top spot in Brampton.
Elsewhere in Ontario, technical issues with online voting systems prompted a number of municipalities to extend their voting hours, some by as much as a day.
The municipality of Greater Sudbury said residents would be able to cast ballots until 8 p.m. on Tuesday due to what it described as a server problem.
Peterborough, Cambridge, Prince Edward County, Pickering and Kingston were among the other municipalities extending voting hours, though most were only for an additional hour.
Results were also slow in coming from London, Ont., which became the first Canadian municipality to use ranked ballots in a local election – an option no other municipality opted to try. The system allows voters to choose three candidates in order of preference.
Two other cities, Cambridge and Kingston, saw votes on whether to adopt the system for the municipal election in 2022.
According to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, there were 6,645 candidates running in local council races across the province and 9.2 million eligible voters.
In spite of various municipalities’ different circumstances, many campaigns were connected by common threads.
Hot button issues such as housing and accessible public transit were campaign issues in Toronto and smaller municipalities alike.
The Daily Commercial News will have more on Toronto’s mayoral victory and how it impacts the industry in an upcoming article.