Mayor John Tory called for an end to divisions at city hall and outlined his priorities for the next four years at the inaugural meeting of council.
“I know in this chamber, in the next four years, we can achieve uncommon results,” Tory, wearing his late father John Tory’s tie, said Tuesday afternoon in front of his 44 new council colleagues and a gallery filled with families and invited guests. “We are one Toronto and that means one for all and all for one.”
Tory began his remarks by thanking Councillor Norm Kelly for his “unique contributions” in the past year. As deputy mayor, the Scarborough councillor took helm of council during Rob Ford’s absence in rehab and after he was stripped of his powers.
The mayor then turned his attention to his predecessor, Rob Ford, asking council to informally pass a “motion” thanking him for his public service and wishing him a “speedy recovery” as he continues treatment for a rare cancer.
Only some members of council rose to their feet to applaud the former mayor turned Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) councillor as his mother, wife and brother Randy Ford looked on from the gallery.
Tory was introduced by anti-poverty advocate Louise Russo, who was paralyzed by a stray bullet in 2004. She began by congratulating all councillors on their election, a stark comparison to the “left-wing pinko” comments made by Ford’s special guest, Don Cherry, in 2010.
“I believe in Toronto the Good,” Russo told council, encouraging them to work to bridge inequalities and make the city more accessible. She called Tory a “dedicated” community builder.
Russo, with the help of Tory’s longtime friend and mentor former Ontario premier Bill Davis, gave Tory his blue velvet chain of office.
Some councillors joked with Tory as he handed them their framed declarations of office, standing to his left or right depending on where they sit on the political spectrum.
In his formal address, Tory spoke of ending geographic and economic divides across the city, pointing to transit and gridlock as top priorities.
He asked councillors to join him in tackling historically high levels of child poverty, youth unemployment and creating a more inclusive city.
“We have a tremendous amount of work to do and it begins right here, right now,” Tory said. “As mayor, I pledge to you an open door and an open mind. I will not let ideology of any kind stand in the way of a good idea or doing what is right.”