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Toronto John Tory names chief of staff, members of transition team

John Tory celebrates at the Liberty Grand after his mayoral election victory in Toronto on Oct. 27, 2014.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

John Tory got right down to work on his first day as mayor-elect of Toronto on Tuesday, naming his new chief of staff and his transition team.

Chris Eby, who served as as director of communications on his mayoral campaign, will be his chief of staff. Mr. Eby is a former journalist with the National Post and CTV News, and, until recently, worked at lobbying firm Sussex Strategy Group.

Vic Gupta, a former Ontario Progressive Conservative Party candidate in the 2011 election, will take the role of Mr. Tory's principal secretary. He is currently a lobbyist at Sussex Strategy Group.

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Mr. Gupta worked as a deputy campaign manager on Mr. Tory's 2003 bid for mayor, and spent two years at City Hall in the late 1990s working for then-councillor Rob Davis.

Case Ootes, the former deputy mayor and a city councillor for 14 years, will be chairman of Mr. Tory's transition team. After serving in the same role for Mayor Rob Ford in 2010, Mr. Ootes has intimate knowledge of some of the city's most important files, including the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, of which he was briefly managing director in 2011.

Rod Phillips, who succeeded Mr. Tory as head of the CivicAction advocacy group, will be vice-chairman of the transition team.

Mr. Phillips is also chairman of the board at Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and a former head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. He was chief of staff to mayor Mel Lastman, is a well-known Conservative and ruled out running to succeed Tim Hudak as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader earlier this year.

The Tory camp confirmed that Nick Kouvalis, former chief of staff to Rob Ford and the mastermind behind two consecutive winning mayoral campaigns – for Mr. Ford in 2010, and now Mr. Tory – will definitely be part of the transition team.

Other members include: Joe Halstead, former commissioner, economic development, at the City of Toronto; Susan McIsaac, president and chief executive officer of United Way Toronto; Arthur Lofsky, former adviser to former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara; Shirley Hoy, former Toronto city manager; and Teresa Di Felice, director of government relations, CAA South Central Ontario

Mr. Tory gave a news conference outside City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, where he showed reporters a stack of binders of "homework" he had been given by staff briefing him on the issues facing the city.

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"It gives you a great sense of the humility of the responsibilities you've been given by the people," he said.

He acknowledged that Monday night's election results showed that there are still deep divisions across the city – a ward-by-ward breakdown shows that the majority of both Etobicoke and Scarborough voted in favour of Doug Ford – but he said he would work to address them.

"I think the one thing that I know more so than anything else is results," he said. "If people see transit getting built, if people see we're having success attracting jobs, if people see their finances well-organized, they're going to have more confidence in their city, in one city, in the government of the city."

Mr. Tory says he will contact Doug Ford, Olivia Chow, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz and "even Ari Goldkind" to see if they are interested in helping him tackle some of the city's problems.

"I said to all of them at one time or another privately, including Olivia Chow last night, I would like to see them involved in some way," he said.

Mr. Tory has also reached out to other councillors, saying he has already spoken with two or three councillors on the phone, and plans to talk to all 44 of them within the coming days.

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Mr. Tory's team has already been assigned an office to slowly set up for when he is sworn in on Dec. 2.

On Monday night, the party may have been in his honour, but when John Tory was announced Toronto's next mayor, he was one of the last to hear the news.

Mr. Tory, the former Rogers executive and radio-show host whose election victory Monday night turned the page after a tumultuous period of Toronto's history, played host to an election night party in a ballroom at the Liberty Grand. But instead of watching the results in the main ballroom with the rest of the volunteers, Mr. Tory sat upstairs in a smaller room with his family and close advisers to take in the results – and, it turns out, on a different news broadcast.

When the election was called downstairs, the entire ballroom erupted in applause, but Mr. Tory and his family had no idea what was happening.

"Our screen was saying, 'Rob Ford re-elected in Ward 2,' " Mr. Tory said in an interview Tuesday morning. "We were thinking, 'Well, gosh, why are they so happy?' "

Mr. Tory captured a little more than 40 per cent of the vote, winning about 64,000 more votes than Mr. Ford, who was in second place. Ms. Chow came third with about 23 per cent.

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