Former Tory MPP Chris Stockwell passed the first hurdle in his bid to take a seat on city council, receiving the endorsement of the Etobicoke-York Community Council, including votes from Mayor Rob Ford and his brother and Etobicoke Councillor Doug.
The mayor said he backed Mr. Stockwell because of his political views, his ties to the community and his time as an elected representative at the municipal and provincial level.
“He has the most political experience to represent the people in Ward 3,” the mayor said after the vote. “We need the experience and that’s why I voted for Chris Stockwell.”
Mr. Stockwell’s political experience with the family has not always been so amicable. In 1999, he defeated Mayor Ford’s father in a nasty nomination battle to represent the Tories for Ward 3. But Mayor Ford seemed willing to bury the hatchet on Tuesday.
Mr. Stockwell won Tuesday with six votes over the three other finalists: Agnes Potts, John Nunziata and Vincent Conforzi. Along with Mayor Ford, councillors Doug Ford, Vincent Crisanti, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn and Cesar Palacio voted for Mr. Stockwell.
Mr. Stockwell touted himself as a steward for the Ward who would not run for re-election in 2014 but would uphold Mr. Holyday’s point of view.
“I think councillor Holyday, MPP Holyday now, and I share a very similar political base,” he said, adding he wouldn’t let his Conservative views prevent him from working with other councillors, though there will always be disagreements.
“Put 45 people in the same room with every political view imaginable represented, all type-A personalities and then tell them they can’t fight. It isn’t going to work. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. [...] That’s democracy.”
Mr. Stockwell served on both the Etobicoke and Metro Toronto City Councils prior to amalgamation and before winning a seat in the provincial legislature, where he sat from 1990 to 2003. He was a cabinet minister under both Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.
But the endorsement from community council is only the first battle for Mr. Stockwell. The recommendation will be brought to city council on Oct. 10, where council will make the final decision on the appointment and candidates will have another opportunity to speak.
City Councillor Peter Milczyn, who sits on the community council, said he expects council will respect the recommendation of the Etobicoke councillors. “From what I heard from some of the downtown councillors and the Left councillors, they kind of accept that the replacement for Doug Holyday should be someone of a similar political persuasion,” said Mr. Milczyn.
The community council heard from 28 of the 45 registered candidates on Tuesday, after 15 candidates failed to show up and two withdrew their names. Those who attended, including Mr. Holyday’s pick, Peter Leon, and Toronto Police officer Tony Vella, made speeches and answered questions from councillors. Council voted to appoint someone to fill Mr. Holyday’s seat in August, after the former deputy mayor won a provincial by-election to land him a Tory seat in the provincial legislature.
With files from Elizabeth Church