Just days before he is sworn in as Toronto's new mayor, John Tory said to expect "significant change" in council roles, and that "very few" councillors will remain in their existing jobs – including at least one upset on the police board that could result in a showdown in his first week as mayor.
Next Tuesday, the new council will meet for the first time, at which point Mr. Tory is expected to submit his list of recommendations for key roles on the city's standing committees. And Mr. Tory, who won the October election by promising a fresh start after four years of Rob Ford's tumultuous mayoralty, said he will begin with the makeup of the committees.
"You will see significant change," Mr. Tory told The Globe and Mail in an exclusive interview from his transition office at City Hall on Friday. Later, he took a tour of the second-floor mayor's office, which he will move into on Monday. "I think you'll see changes across the board in the context of the faces in given jobs. There are very few people that have the same jobs they had before. Very few."
Mr. Tory would not reveal his picks, saying those have yet to be finalized. But several sources told The Globe he is seriously considering Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong for deputy mayor. Mr. Minnan-Wong, the conservative councillor for Don Valley East, has been at city hall for 20 years and most recently was chair of the public works committee.
Sources also said that, unlike Mr. Ford, who filled the 13-person executive committee with mostly conservative councillors, Mr. Tory will move toward the centre and select some members of the "mushy middle" – a nickname for a group of centrist councillors first elected in 2010.
"My strategy is to simply do what I said I would do during the election campaign," Mr. Tory said. He vowed to include "councillors in the overall leadership structure of the city that are coming from different places – different places in terms of geography, and different places in terms of where they are on the so-called ideological spectrum."
Mr. Tory's picks are still subject to a council vote, and at least one change he is seeking could result in a clash amongst councillors. Citing a need for a "fresh start," Mr. Tory plans to take a seat on the police board, and will not reappoint councillors Michael Thompson and Frances Nunziata, although he has offered Mr. Thompson back his job as chair of the economic development committee. But several sources said Mr. Thompson has been contacting councillors to gauge support for keeping his seat on the police board.
"It's a terrible idea," outgoing Councillor Doug Ford said of Mr. Tory's decision to oust Mr. Thompson and Ms. Nunziata from the police board. "They're the only two that held the police accountable, and they're getting rid of them."
Councillor Paula Fletcher, meanwhile, questioned the wisdom of removing Mr. Thompson – the only black member of council, and a passionate voice against racial profiling – at a time when the issue remains controversial.
"I hope that Tory is seeking advice from the broader community to see if this is the juncture when he should remove the one black member of the police board," Ms. Fletcher said. "I think it is important that his voice is at the table at this point in Toronto's history."
But Mr. Tory defended his decision, saying that he too is committed to solving the issue.
"I don't think a person has to be black or brown or any other description of person to be able to be committed to working … to achieve that kind of reform and make sure we build back that confidence that has to exist with the black community," he said.