Toronto Mayor John Tory did the right thing by resigning over his relationship with a former member of his staff, says the Deputy Prime Minister.
Arriving for a caucus meeting on Wednesday, Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, told journalists that Mr. Tory admitted to a serious mistake and took responsibility for it.
“And he took responsibility by resigning,” said Ms. Freeland, the MP for the Toronto riding of University—Rosedale. “That was the right thing to do and that was the necessary thing to do.”
Ms. Freeland said she was “very surprised, even shocked” by the mayor’s disclosure, which prompted him to announce his resignation last Friday.
She also rejected as “wholly untrue and inaccurate” a media report that, during a telephone call with Mr. Tory, she urged him not to resign.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted to recognize the mayor’s years of service to the City of Toronto. “He was a strong partner for us,” Mr. Trudeau told journalists before the caucus meeting.
“I know Toronto is facing real challenges and I certainly hope the current and future leadership is able to step up and make sure that Torontonians continue to get the opportunities they need,” said the Prime Minister.
However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Mr. Tory should not leave, adding that he has been “phenomenal partner” for the provincial government.
“My opinion? It’s not time to change. Everything is going tickety-boo for the City of Toronto, working well with the provincial and federal government,” Mr. Ford told a news conference in Brampton, Ont.
“Let’s not upset the apple cart for a personal issue he’s dealing with.”
He added, looking to the future, “If a lefty mayor gets in there, God help the people of Toronto.” In particular, he expressed concerns about increased taxes and out-of-control spending.
Meanwhile, some members of the federal Liberal caucus were facing questions about whether they would run for the mayoralty.
Toronto MP Ahmed Hussen, who is Housing and Diversity Minister, ruled it out. “I don’t intend to do anything other than my job. I hope that’s clear enough for all of you,” he told journalists following Wednesday’s caucus meeting.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, a Toronto-area MP, also ruled it out this week.
Michael Coteau, the MP for Don Valley East and a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister, said he has been getting some calls about the mayoralty from across the political spectrum.
“Of course, I have to take that seriously. I care deeply about Toronto. The situation at city hall right now is very unstable and very discouraging. Once Mr. Tory decides on his final decision, then other political leaders can consider their course of action,” he said in a statement.
In citing Mr. Tory’s “final decision,” Mr. Coteau said he was referring to the timing of the mayor submitting his formal resignation to the city clerk.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CUTS OFF RESEARCH FUNDING - The federal government will no longer fund research with Chinese military and state security institutions and is urging the provinces and universities to adopt similar national-security measures. Story here. Reporter’s Comment, Steven Chase: “This announcement follows The Globe and Mail’s reporting Jan. 30 on how Canadian universities have for years collaborated with China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), a top Chinese army scientific institution, on hundreds of advanced technology research projects, generating knowledge that can help drive China’s defence sector in cutting-edge, high-tech industries. As The Globe first reported, researchers at 50 Canadian universities, including the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University, have conducted and published joint scientific papers from 2005 to 2022 with scientists connected to China’s military.
“In the past five years, academics at 10 of Canada’s leading universities published more than 240 joint papers on topics including quantum cryptography, photonics and space science with Chinese military scientists at NUDT. Some of these NUDT researchers are experts in missile performance and guidance systems, mobile robotics and automated surveillance. This is the second time the Trudeau government has declared it would crack down on funding of research with China and adversarial countries.”
LEGAULT CALLS ON TRUDEAU TO DISCOURAGE MIGRANTS FROM COMING TO CANADA - A day after Quebec confirmed that asylum seekers who cross the border irregularly are being sent to other provinces, Premier François Legault called on the Prime Minister to discourage migrants from coming to Canada. Story here.
MPS WANT CANADA SOCCER TESTIMONY - Three members of the House committee whose inquiry into Hockey Canada led to the resignations of the organization’s chief executive and board of directors are now interested in hearing testimony from Canada Soccer, the national governing body responsible for the sport in Canada, as a dispute over pay equity with the women’s national soccer team comes to a head. Story here.
ONTARIO CAN WEATHER RECESSION: FINANCE MINISTER - Ontario’s Finance Minister says the province’s economy is resilient enough to withstand a possible recession. Peter Bethlenfalvy says the fiscal situation has improved by billions of dollars, although still running at a deficit. Story here.
PM ATTENDING CARIBBEAN LEADERS SUMMIT - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to depart Ottawa on Wednesday for the Bahamas, where members of the Caribbean Community are gathering to discuss regional issues, including the deepening crisis in Haiti. Story here.
OTTAWA URGED TO ADOPT NEW CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS - Ottawa is being irresponsible for not hastening the adoption of construction standards that would make new homes more resilient to the harsher climate, the insurance industry says, after a year when severe weather events caused billions of dollars in damage claims. Story here.
BC LIBERALS TOUT HARM REDUCTION SUPPORT - B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon says the province’s supervised drug consumption sites have strayed too far from their purpose and, if elected, his government would overhaul the facilities to offer more medical supervision and ensure clients are better steered toward treatment. Story here.
FORD MUM ON QUESTIONS ABOUT ACCESS TO DAUGHTER’S STAG AND DOE - Ontario Premier Doug Ford did not divulge details of who sent invitations – including to developers – for his daughter’s $150-a-ticket stag-and-doe party last summer, saying only “the boys” took care of the money that was raised. Story here.
TOP EXECUTIVES DON’T NEED FRENCH - The top executives of Air Canada, Canadian National, Crown corporations and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act, such as port and airport authorities, will not be required to clearly speak and understand French, as the Quebec government has called for. Story here from CTV.
PREMIERS ON HEALTH CARE - British Columbia Premier David Eby – story here – met with federal colleagues Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a bilateral health deal. Meanwhile, Yukon’s Premier says federal health care money specifically for the territories is “critical” to service delivery. Story here.
LIBERAL MAY OPPOSE PARTY’S LANGUAGE BILL - Opposition parties have changed the Liberal government’s official languages bill so much, a Quebec Liberal MP said he’s not sure he can still vote for it. Story here.
POILIEVRE BACKS ALBERTA OIL-AND-GAS CONCERNS - Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he backs Alberta Premier Danielle Smith over her concerns about what she’s called Ottawa’s anti-oil and gas agenda. Story here.
WORLD’S LARGEST SKATING RINK ON THIN ICE - The world’s largest skating rink, in Ottawa, is on thin ice as Canada’s warm winter prevents its opening. Story here from The Guardian.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Feb. 15, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, in Ottawa, attended private meetings as well as the national caucus meeting and was, in Toronto, scheduled to attend and deliver remarks at the 23rd Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting.
LEGAL CHALLENGE ON $6,000/NIGHT HOTEL BILL - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it is launching a legal challenge to force the federal government to disclose who stayed in the $6,000-per-night hotel room during Queen Elizabeth’s 2022 funeral in London. The federation filed an access-to-information request asking who stayed in the hotel room, and the government replied with a redacted response, citing security concerns and a clause in the Access to Information Act that prohibits the release of personal information. The Canadian delegation in London for the funeral included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor-General Mary Simon and four former prime ministers. The Toronto Sun reported the delegation expensed nearly $400,000 in hotel costs alone, including the $6,000-per-night River Suite at the Corinthia Hotel.
HAMILTON PROVINCIAL BYELECTION - A March 16 byelection has been called in the provincial Hamilton riding of Hamilton Centre, which was held by former NDP leader Andrea Horwath from 2004 to 2022. Ms. Horwath left provincial politics after the last general election and has since been elected Hamilton mayor.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held private meetings, attended the weekly Liberal caucus meeting and was scheduled to depart for Nassau to attend a meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, including its opening ceremony and a welcoming reception.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a news conference on health transfers and the fiscal imbalance shortly before attending Question Period.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a news conference in Calgary.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, attended the party caucus meeting, took questions from journalists ahead of Question Period and attended Question Period.
No schedules provided for other party leaders.
Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast is about issues related to medical access to psilocybin – better known as magic mushrooms. The psychedelic is illegal in Canada but there’s increased interest in its potential therapeutic benefits. Still-illegal magic mushroom dispensaries have begun to pop up in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. The Globe’s Mike Hager went to one, and explores the business behind magic mushrooms. The Decibel is here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on what B.C. will do with its surging carbon-tax revenues: “B.C. was Canada’s carbon-tax pioneer. But it is now, 15 years later, that harder decisions emerge, as the levy becomes more onerous. Restoring the revenue-neutral approach and reducing other taxes would be ideal. But if the NDP opts to continue to focus on spending to reduce emissions, it must be clear that the source of those funds is rising carbon taxes paid by people in the province – who, in contrast to federal carbon pricing, will not receive offsetting payments.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how Israel’s legal reforms look awfully Canadian – and that’s not good: “What has provoked all this division and rancour is a package of legal reforms introduced by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the aim of curbing the power and independence of the country’s Supreme Court – or, if you prefer, of removing one of the few limits on the government’s own power. There are several pieces to the package, but at its heart is a proposal that will sound familiar to Canadians: one that would allow the Israeli parliament to override the Court’s decisions, upholding laws the Court had found were in violation of guarantees of rights under Israel’s proto-constitution, the Basic Laws. Or in other words, the notwithstanding clause. Mr. Netanyahu even refers to it as ‘the Canadian model.’”
Daniel J. Caron, Evert Lindquist, and Robert P. Shepherd (Policy Options) on critical considerations for the future of the public service: “In a December 2022 column in Policy Options, ‘Canada needs a royal commission to fix problems with the federal public service,’ Kathryn May conveyed Donald Savoie’s reluctant call for a royal commission to explore the state of the Canadian public service and its future direction. Many different reasons were highlighted. The public service is overloaded, relying on slow and outdated processes. There has been rapid growth after COVID and yet – despite an arguably quick pivot to implement government policies – it has been slow to handle the demand for essential services. It also seems incapable of responding in a timely manner to access-to-information requests despite politicians’ trumpeting of ‘open government.’”
Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.