Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne let out a cheer upon learning that John Tory had won Toronto’s mayoral race.
“Hallelujah!” Ms. Wynne said as she heard the results, shortly after finishing a morning run photo-op with Chinese athletes and international school students at a stadium in Shanghai.
The Premier, 12 hours ahead of Toronto on a trade mission to China, was filled in on the returns as she walked off the field after the seven-lap run. When at first it appeared Doug Ford was within striking distance of Mr. Tory, the Premier looked visibly concerned.
As soon as it became clear Mr. Tory had prevailed, she heaved an audible sigh of relief.
“Congratulations to John. I’m very pleased for him,” Ms. Wynne said moments later. “I’ve said all along that I hoped that we would have a mayor in Toronto that could work with the provincial government. We have that, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him.”
While Ms. Wynne has remained nominally neutral in the race for mayor, her Liberal government largely supported Tory – some members publicly, others behind the scenes.
Officials from provincial transit agency Metrolinx gave input on Mr. Tory’s signature Smart Track policy, a Tory campaign source said. And government insiders said Ms. Wynne’s office likes the transit plan.
“I think [Smart Track] has got a lot to recommend it and I think it’s something that we can work with,” Ms. Wynne said in Shanghai. “I look forward to sitting down with him and having his people sit down with Metrolinx and we’ll get started.”
Liberal insiders quietly fretted through most of the last year about the prospect of another Ford mayoralty. They felt it would be difficult to move forward on transit or nearly any other file with either Rob or Doug Ford in office.
The Ford brothers’ opposition to surface rail delayed the construction of three badly-needed LRT lines in Toronto, and made light rail so politically difficult to support, the Liberals switched the planned Scarborough LRT to a more expensive subway extension.
“We need a mayor in Toronto and, quite frankly, across the province, we need mayors in municipalities who work with the provincial government and the federal government,” Ms. Wynne said.
But she was careful not to take aim at Mr. Ford.
“Doug ran a race and his family’s going through a lot right now. I thank him for putting his name on the ballot,” she said.
Ms. Wynne planned to call Mr. Tory, as well as other newly-elected mayors in Ontario, later Tuesday, to wish them congratulations. She said her partner, Jane, was planning to attend Mr. Tory’s victory party.
One of Ms. Wynne’s central ambitions as Premier is to build $34-billion worth of public transit lines – subways, LRTs and commuter trains – across the province in the next decade. And she expressed optimism that Mr. Tory and other new mayors would be able to help her make it happen.
“It’s very important that we have a group of mayors that want to look at that regional need, that want to look at transit from a regional perspective. If those are the people who have won, then we have that and it’s wonderful,” she said.
Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, who is travelling with Ms. Wynne, was one Liberal MPP who supported Mr. Tory openly, and even worked on the committee that pushed him to run earlier this year.
He frequently argued the Fords’ disorganization, and Rob Ford’s drug and alcohol use, were embarrassing the city.
“We’re here in China trying to drum up business – it’s really going to help to have a mayor that’s going to be able to sell Toronto effectively, that’s professional,” he said. “Somebody who is stable. Somebody who has good business connections as well. I think this is going to help us to grow our economy.”
And he said Mr. Tory and Ms. Wynne would work well together.
“We have a premier and we have a mayor of Toronto who put the personalities behind them, and they do what’s best for the people,” he said. “They’re very professional, they’re very good to work with, they work well together.”
International Trade Minister Michael Chan, also in Shanghai, said Mr. Tory is “the right person” to lead Toronto. Smart Track is planned to serve Mr. Chan’s Markham riding, a suburb of Toronto.
“Having him thinking about Markham is good. I’m very happy that he got it and Toronto gets the right person,” Mr. Chan said. “He himself being a business person; he’s a perfect person for Toronto.”Report Typo/Error