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Toronto Holyday endorses Etobicoke Tory Peter Leon for his former seat

Peter Leon was endorsed by outgoing Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday to replace him on Toronto city council. Leon is photographed at his Etobicoke home Aug 26, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Doug Holyday is endorsing a long-time Etobicoke resident and volunteer Peter Leon to take his place in the council chamber until the 2014 civic election.

Mr. Holyday, Toronto's former deputy mayor who gave up his council seat after winning a provincial by-election this month, announced his endorsement just hours after city council voted to fill the Ward 3 post through an appointment rather than a by-election.

"He's done an awful lot for Etobicoke and he's got the right outlook," said Mr. Holyday, now a Tory MPP. "He is someone who could do a good job and deserves it."

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Mr. Leon, 71, who is retired from a career in sales, says he has no intention of running in 2014. A member of the local riding association for the federal Conservatives, he said he shares Mr. Holyday's views on fiscal matters.

"I am not a left-winger," Mr. Leon said. "I know the things that Doug stood for in the City of Toronto," and adding that he plans to follow that example.

Mr. Leon grew up in Etobicoke and has lived in his house just outside Ward 3 boundary since 1956. His only attempt to run for public office was about 25 years ago, he said, when he ran unsuccessfully as a trustee for the separate school board. He has held several public posts, including with the Etobicoke Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, the former boards of Etobicoke Hydro and the Etobicoke library board. Mr. Leon also volunteered on Mr. Holyday's recent by-election campaign.

Mr. Holyday said he met Mr. Leon years ago through community organizations and decided to endorse him as his replacement because of his performance in those organizations.

"He is not about to waste anybody's money," he said.

John Nunziata, a former MP and now a lawyer and lobbyist, said he's interested in the appointed position, but not running. He was surprised council decided to go with an appointment, but thought it was the right choice given the circumstances.

"We all know the turnout in municipal elections is low, especially with by-elections," he pointed out, adding he's still considering throwing his hat in the ring, but needs some more information about how soon he can return to lobbying after serving on council. He said he's not interested in running in the 2014 election.

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Mr. Nunziata's sister, Frances Nunziata, is already a city councillor, council's Speaker and a strong Ford ally.

Individuals who had said they'd be interested in running in a by-election were disappointed with the decision Monday. Dean French, a former vice-president of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, said he doesn't believe in appointment but will run in the 2014 election.

John Campbell, once the chair of the Toronto District School Board, wasn't sure if he would consider the appointed position.

"I don't know because I believe in democracy," Mr. Campbell said at city hall after the council meeting.

"If they appoint you, you go in with a pledge that you won't run in that riding. … I'll be running in 2014, I'm not sure where that's going to be."

The deadline for filing an application to be considered for the council appointment is Sept. 26 and Etobicoke York Community Council will meet on Oct. 3 to hear from the applicants and make a recommendation to council on a preferred candidate. City Council will hold a special meeting on Oct. 10 to appoint a representative for Ward 3.

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With files from Kaleigh Rogers

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