TORONTO – The Rob Ford era is over as Toronto elected a new mayor, someone who is unlikely to ever make headlines for illegal drug use and public drunkenness.
John Tory, a straight-laced, button-down moderate conservative, won Monday’s election with 40 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Doug Ford, brother of the outgoing mayor. Left-leaning Olivia Chow was third with nearly 23 percent, with 100 percent of polling stations reporting.
“Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralyzed city hall for the past four years, and to all that I say, ‘Toronto, I hear you. I hear you loud and clear,’ ” Tory told cheering supporters, vowing to restore Toronto’s reputation on the international stage.
Rob Ford’s four-year tenure as mayor of Canada’s largest city was marred by his drinking and crack cocaine use. He announced last month that he wouldn’t seek re-election as he battles a rare form of cancer. His brother, a city councilor, ran in his place.
“Hallelujah!” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said upon learning the election results while on a trade mission in China.
Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, said Toronto municipal politics will unlikely be international news with Tory as mayor.
“Personality wise they are mirror opposites but anybody is dull compared to Rob Ford,” Wiseman said. “It’s been an outrageously entertaining circus. Alas the curtain has come down.”
Ford’s supporters booed when Doug Ford congratulated Tory on his victory. Doug Ford later said the scandals played a part in the loss but said he was “super proud” of his brother.
“I still believe he’s the best mayor ever,” Doug Ford said.
However, Rob Ford will not disappear from Toronto politics anytime soon.
Despite the cancer, he opted to seek the City Council seat held by his brother from the Etobicoke district in western Toronto where he launched his political career. He won his old seat in a landslide Monday and said he will run for mayor again in four years.
“I will be the first person to sign up in 2018,” Rob Ford told the Toronto Sun. He strongly hinted that earlier and noted that the Ford family never gives up.
Ford has previously said the doctors have told him he has a 50-50 chance of surviving the rare cancer in his abdomen, malignant liposarcoma. He was returning to the hospital on Wednesday for another round of tests.
After months of denials, Rob Ford in 2013 acknowledged he had smoked crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors,” but he refused to resign. The City Council stripped Ford of most of his powers but lacked the authority to force him out of office because he wasn’t convicted of a crime.
Ford announced he was entering rehab for drugs and alcohol in April 2014 after newspaper reports detailed three nights in which he was extremely intoxicated. One report was about a video that appeared to show him smoking a crack pipe again – nearly a year after reports of a similar video first brought international attention.
Rob Ford’s antics made him the target of late-night television comedians in the U.S. Last March, he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” after months of wooing by the talk-show host, who introduced his guest by saying he “has tripped, bumped, danced, argued and smoked his way into our national consciousness.”
When Ford was elected mayor in 2010, his drug and alcohol use weren’t known – but his bluster was. A plurality of voters backed him, eager to shake things up at a City Hall they viewed as elitist and wasteful. Ford’s voter base resided mainly in those outer suburbs like Etobicoke. He appealed to those residents with his populist, common man touch and with promises to slash spending, cut taxes and end what he called “the war on the car.”
He first won as mayor by promising to “stop the gravy train” of government spending. But Toronto got more turmoil than expected.
Tory, 60, is a longtime moderate conservative politician and adviser. He formerly was chief executive of a major cable company Rogers Communications, and also served as commissioner of the Canadian Football League. More recently, he hosted a radio talk show. He ran for mayor in 2003 and lost.
Tory has promised to end the circus at City Hall and to get people moving with a new public transit plan.
“I will be a balanced and accountable leader,” Tory said.