Toronto's new mayor, John Tory, saw his full slate of appointments passed in his inaugural council meeting, and managed to avert his first major showdown on the floor of the chamber when the challenge fizzled out.
Although some councillors grumbled this week about the lack of progressive candidates in executive roles, Mr. Tory's recommendations passed easily Wednesday. And, despite a few opposing comments from left-leaning members, many councillors spoke of a renewed sense of co-operation and a desire after four years of "dysfunction" to work together with the new mayor.
"I was feeling apprehension going into this, as you would at the first day of a new school or first day of any new job," Mr. Tory said after the meeting wrapped up.
While sitting in the speaker's chair, the mayor – who confessed to never having sat through a council meeting before – appeared alternately amused and confused as the proceedings unfolded around him. "I was so conscious of trying not to make a mistake. … I'm a newcomer, so I think they were very kind today."
By the time the meeting started, one of Mr. Tory's largest obstacles had already disappeared, with Councillor Maria Augimeri tearfully telling reporters that she would drop her bid for the speaker's seat against the mayor's pick, Frances Nunziata.
Ms. Augimeri was among the councillors who earlier this week criticized Ms. Nunziata for allowing politics to affect her job as speaker last term. But by Wednesday, Ms. Augimeri had changed her mind to "make things more amicable."
She added that she had the support of only 19 councillors, when she would have needed the majority, or 23 votes, to overturn the mayor's decision.
Ms. Nunziata ended up running unopposed, but that didn't stop the newly elected Councillor Joe Cressy from standing up to speak against it. "Mr. Mayor, in the campaign, you said not left, not right, but forward … but I don't think the election of this speaker is forward."
Even Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong was tepid in his introduction of Ms. Nunziata, acknowledging that "she's had some bright spots; she's had some rough patches." Shortly after, Ms. Nunziata herself pledged to do better, saying that she would spend time observing the provincial and federal legislatures and take notes on decorum.
Later, Councillor Mike Layton tried to challenge another one of the mayor's picks, by attempting to replace Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti with Gord Perks on the Exhibition Place board. That motion lost 19 to 26.
Afterward, Mr. Minnan-Wong said he was pleased the mayor had succeeded in passing everything he'd wanted.
"The package that was proposed to striking committee – everything was adopted," he said. "I think any issues that arose, the mayor and his office were successful in speaking to the members of council and trying to find common ground to move forward."
But the mayor learned there are at least some limits to his clout at city hall.
Mr. Minnan-Wong said he and the mayor would like to sit next to one another in council – even though the seat next to Mr. Tory is occupied by Mr. Mammoliti.
In response, Mr. Mammoliti said he would be willing to trade seats, but only if the mayor promises to freeze property taxes for four years – a request that has so far gone unanswered.
Despite Mr. Mammoliti's resistance, the mayor appeared unfazed. "I don't care where I sit," he said. "I would be equally happy to sit beside any of the 44 councillors."