TORONTO – Toronto’s new mayor opened his first council meeting by thanking his ailing predecessor Rob Ford for his continued public service and wishing him a speedy recovery from cancer and return to civic life.
John Tory and Ford later shared a fist bump — Ford is avoiding exposure to germs during chemotherapy — after the mayor proposed the motion of thanks during the ceremonial meeting that followed his public swearing-in Tuesday.
Tory asked for all those in attendance to say “aye” and declared it passed unanimously.
Ford, who easily won re-election as a councillor after his cancer diagnosis forced him to drop out of the mayoralty race, gave Tory a thumbs up.
In his maiden speech, Tory vowed to bring an end to what he called the division that has paralyzed city hall in the past few years. He also promised to work with the provincial and federal governments.
“The case I will put forward is clear. Toronto is the engine of growth in Ontario and Canada and must remain strong economically and socially,” he said.
“I will build trust, I will restore faith and I will regain respect for the City of Toronto in Queen’s Park and Ottawa.”
Ford’s relationship with the Ontario government vaporized after he was stripped of most of his powers last year following his admission of drug use while in a “drunken stupor.” Tory, meanwhile, met with Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday, his first day in office.
In contrast to the controversial remarks by Don Cherry during Ford’s swearing-in four years ago — which saw the outspoken hockey commentator lambaste “left-wing kooks” — Tory chose renowned anti-violence advocate Louise Russo as his guest of honour.
“John Tory is a genuine, caring and a dedicated community builder. He wants Toronto to grow into an even better, stronger city. He has the skills and the drive to lead us there,” she told council.
Tory also promised to work on a poverty-reduction strategy for Toronto, but acknowledged there is a tremendous amount of work to do.
“As your mayor, I pledge you an open door and an open mind,” he added.
“I will not let ideology of any kind stand in the way of a good idea or doing what is right.”
In all, 44 councillors were sworn in along with Toronto’s 65th mayor.
Ford’s family was in attendance, while Tory had former Progressive Conservative premier Bill Davis among his guests.