On October 24th 2022, Torontonians went to the polls to elect a new mayor and council. At that time, Toronto had a 29 percent voter turnout and around 30 candidates for mayor. To many, it wasn’t a surprise that Mayor John Tory was re-elected for his third term. He won 62 percent of the vote, with runner-up Gil Penalosa trailing behind with only 18 percent. In February, Mayor Tory resigned and a by-election to replace him was called for June 26. This time the ballot will have over 100 names on it. Front runners, second tier candidates, fringe candidates, and even a dog are running.
All candidates are actively promoting their vision for Toronto.
Across most media outlets and social channels, there is commentary encouraging voters to support a particular candidate because they are promoting a specific policy.
Many discussions so far speak to what the policy is, but not how it will be implemented.
Municipal politics is not like federal or provincial levels where the party system with few exceptions is rigid, and you can count your votes of support based on the standing of your party in the legislature.
Municipal politics is different. You need to work for the votes. Simply put—the mayor is one vote out of 26. To pass any legislation or motion you need 13 Councillors in favour. The simple idea that your preferred candidate's platform will just be implemented is naive at best, as that is not how Toronto City Council works or any council for that matter.
The successful mayor will need to collaborate and work with every member of City Council. Some of the candidates for mayor have experience sitting in the council chamber. One can simply look up how they voted in the past and what their general stance is on key issues facing the city. Others have served at different levels of government and have a track record showing how they have worked with their colleagues as well.
Our next mayor will have unprecedented powers to use or not use. When Ontario passed the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act it provided new powers to the mayors of Ottawa and Toronto. Though, these powers are not unlimited and can’t be used on every item or issue before council. The mayor of Toronto can’t just introduce their platform and have it passed. They still need to win votes at Council. The next mayor will have the power to veto council’s passing of a by-law if it could potentially interfere with a provincial priority. To ensure there is no abuse of power council could override a mayoral veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
Therefore, once a voter finds a candidate whose policies most align with their view of the Toronto they want, ask the following question: does that candidate have a minimum of 12 other councillors who could potentially support their ideas? If not, how will they find 12 councillors to vote with them to win? Because even with strong mayor powers you need some votes around the table.
To learn more about the respective candidates, visit: 2023 By-Election for Mayor: List of Certified Candidates & Third Party Advertisers – City of Toronto
Advanced polling begins June 8, and the by-election takes place on June 26.
Our Public Affairs team is available to provide further insights and analysis on the municipal election and how it will impact your organization.