Mayor John Tory stood before his first meeting of council vowing to restore respect for the country's largest city, to do away with "standstill thinking" and get results on key files such as transit and congestion.
Tuesday's meeting, which was mostly ceremonial, was a marked change from the one four years ago and the subsequent divisive and scandal-plagued term of Rob Ford. Mr. Tory's emphasis on "One Toronto," and his choice of anti-violence advocate Louise Russo and former Ontario Premier Bill Davis as special guests, was a far cry from the tone set four years ago, when Mr. Ford caused the first of many commotions by inviting Don Cherry who arrived in the chamber in a fuchsia jacket and made reference to "pinkos" riding bicycles.
This time, Mr. Ford, now representing his former Etobicoke ward and under treatment for a rare form of cancer, sat in his council seat looking on.
Mr. Tory used his inaugural address to touch on themes familiar from the campaign trail, including his pledge to get his SmartTrack above-ground transit line running in seven years and to reduce gridlock.
"Torontonians are not asking us for miracles – they don't expect miracles of their elected representatives. What they want is visible progress – and soon – on a few critical and shared priorities. Transit and gridlock top this list," he said.
The new mayor pledged to work with councillors from all sides of the political spectrum, a promise that follows criticism from progressive members of council who were shut out of positions on his powerful executive committee.
"As your mayor, I pledge to you an open door and an open mind," he said. "I will not let ideology of any kind stand in the way of a good idea or doing what is right."
But Mr. Tory could see the first challenge to his authority as early Wednesday. His controversial decision to keep Ford loyalist Frances Nunziata in the Speaker's chair is facing a challenge from councillors who say change is needed and are backing a bid by left-of-centre Councillor Maria Augimeri.
"I just think it's important that we turn a new leaf," said Councillor Gord Perks, explaining his support of Ms. Augimeri.
Mr. Tory's remarks to council followed an emotional address by Ms. Russo, who has worked to stem youth violence since she was paralyzed by a stray bullet a decade ago. Ms. Russo, who is in a wheelchair, placed the chain of office around Mr. Tory's neck as Mr. Davis looked on. The mayor called Ms. Russo his "hero."
"It is a new era for Toronto," said Ms. Russo, before adding "I believe in Toronto the good." Ms. Russo founded a charity, Working Against Violence Everyday, or WAVE. "I believe that under John Tory's leadership we will become one Toronto, and one of the world's greatest and most liveable cities."
Mr. Tory described the former premier – who he served as chief of staff in the 1980s – as "my mentor, my hero."
"I think he'll be tremendous," Mr. Davis said when asked what kind of a mayor Mr. Tory will make. "I've known him a long time and there's not a more decent individual in public life than John." When asked if he had any advice for the incoming councillors, the former premier joked: "Just pay attention to John."
Mr. Tory, meanwhile, alluded to the tumultuous mayoralty of Mr. Ford when describing the advice he's received from Mr. Davis.
"I do remember that he said to me 'bland works,' and I think he's basically right about that," Mr. Tory said. "I think politicians are ill-advised to be engaged in show business and things that are more about entertaining people – and more just to focus on results."
Still, the mayor took a moment to recognize Mr. Ford and asked council to acknowledge his work and to wish him a return to health.
Tuesday's meeting marked the beginning of a series of sessions this week to fill committee appointments and to set the schedule for the coming months.