News / Toronto

'I told you so': John Tory's choices for top positions lean to the right

Mayor John Tory's picks for his executive committee have Toronto progressives feeling left out, but most say they're willing to trust the new magistrate's judgment... for now.

Although still subject to approval, Tory's choices for key jobs within his administration draw heavily from council's right flank.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong has been tapped for the official deputy mayor job, while Frances Nunziata will retain her job as speaker. Tory's executive committee also sees the return of five councillors appointed by Rob Ford, including former Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario candidate Gary Crawford and Ward 24 councillor David Shiner.

York University professor Dennis Pilon called the appointments "a slap in the face" for left-leaning Torontonians.

"My response is 'I told you so,'" he said. "This guy's a conservative and now people are surprised that he's surrounding himself with conservatives. Tory's going to be a more effective Rob Ford. That's what people voted for. They may not have thought they were voting for that, but that's what they've got."

Other progressives, both on council and off, were more measured in their response.

"The executive does leave out left-wing and downtown councillors. I share that concern, but the mayor has his reasons," said Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker.

The Scarborough councillor is one of three municipal representatives picked by Tory to represent different regions of the city. Coun. Pam McConnell will serve as the deputy mayor for the south part of Toronto, while Vincent Crisanti will represent the west.

Minnan-Wong will lend a voice to the city's north end.

"John Tory has purposefully decided to create these deputy mayor positions based on geography. Each part of the city will feel like it's getting its fair share," De Baeremaeker said. "I think he feels in his gut that people in the suburbs feel ripped off.

"He senses that alienation and wants to heal it."

Local activist Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, a perpetual thorn in Rob Ford's side and vocal supporter of Olivia Chow, cautioned against reading too much into Tory's choices.

"There's a great deal of good will for Mr. Tory right now. A lot of people want to see him succeed, including progressive Torontonians," he said. "And many of the folks he's appointed to the executive committee have shown their ability to understand and move forward on what could be considered progressive issues."

Chaleff-Freudenthaler said the appointments of Ana Bailao to the library board and Josh Colle to the position of TTC chair show Tory is still in touch with the needs of downtown residents.

"And it looks like Tory will ask Pam McConnell to lead the poverty reduction file," he added. "If he provides her the support to do that work, that's great. It's one of the key issues facing the city."

Chaleff-Freudenthaler is optimistic that Tory will be able to hold the reins on his team in general, and on Minnan-Wong in particular.

"Given [Minnan-Wong's] track record, I think there's a concern about inclusiveness," he said, citing the Scarborough councillor's controversial stances on illegal immigrants and abortion. "It's going to be up to John Tory to ensure that Denzil Minnan-Wong carries forward the spirit the mayor is looking for in his administration."

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