POLITICS

Tory Defends Choices For Executive Committee, Council Speaker

12/03/2014 08:28 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST
Mayor John Tory responded to criticism Wednesday that he intentionally shut-out left-leaning councillors from Toronto's downtown from prominent appointments in his administration. 

"I'm always confounded by this notion that you have to fit people in a pigeon hole," Tory told CBC's Metro Morning in an one-on-one studio interview with host Matt Galloway. 

"I tried to do what I thought was prudent in the context of the absolute necessity for me to get results on things like transit, jobs and taxes ... I'm not going to let ideology of any kind get in the way of a good idea."

Tory campaigned heavily on his 'One Toronto' concept — ostensibly a promise to end the fractiousness infighting among councillors and geographic regions of the city that is often blamed for a lack of progress on critical issues facing the city. 

Many thought this promise would take the form of an executive committee that included councillors not only from all parts of Toronto, but from the entire political spectrum. 

Executive committee

Late Sunday, however, when Tory's picks for the 13-member executive committee (including the mayor) were revealed, the list included nine councillors who previously served in that role during the Rob Ford era. Similarly, no councillors from the 'old Toronto,' or the downtown core, were among his selections. 

But Tory pointed to Coun. Shelley Carroll, who represents Don Valley East and is considered a left-leaning public servant, as an example of his attempt to include progressive elements of council in his appointments. 

Carroll has been tapped as deputy Speaker, as committee chair for the TTC, and she will sit on the Police Services Board and budget committee (pending approval by council). 

Interestingly, Carroll herself was critical of Tory earlier this week when she told employees that his selections for the executive committee do not reflect the "broad spectrum" he promised on the campaign trail.

"When you're sitting around making these kinds of decisions, it's like a chess game," Tory said. "You have all these people and they're all talented and they all have a self perception of what they should be doing .. I have to make choices."

"If you want to compare it to the last administration, I think there's been a big change, much more than is being acknowledged," he said. 

Nunziata as Speaker

Tory also discussed his decision to ask Speaker Frances Nunziata to continue on in her role in council. Nunziata is arguably among the most divisive councillors and her time as speaker has been marked by some of council's most raucous, and sometimes grossly inappropriate, debates.

Tory said he has personally told Nunziata that he intends to "set a new example and a new tone at city hall" and that he "couldn't achieve any progress on that front without her help."

Nunziata will reportedly meet with speakers from other divided legislatures in the province to get a sense of what can be done to improve conditions in Toronto. 

New police chief

Lastly, Tory spoke about the city's ongoing search for a new police chief.

He said he doesn't know if that person will come from within the force, or the city, but that the candidate must be a capable administrator, someone who understands how to modernize the department, and perhaps most importantly, someone who can deal with the scarred relationship between police and some communities, particularly visible minorties. 

"It's almost a person that doesn't exist, it's very very tough," Tory lamented. 

"I don't know if such a person exists, but if they do, we'll find them," he said. 

Tory presided over his first council meeting Tuesday, during which he was handed the chain of office by his longtime mentor former premier Bill Davis and justice advocate Louise Russo. 

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