TORONTO — Toronto’s mayor resigned unexpectedly on Friday night after admitting to a relationship with a staff member.
John Tory made the announcement at a news conference several hours after receiving questions from The Toronto Star, which broke the story, about the relationship with a woman the newspaper said was a former employee of his office.
The relationship began during the pandemic and “ended by mutual consent earlier this year,” Mr. Tory said, calling the episode “a serious error in judgment.”
“It came at a time when Barb, my wife of 40-plus years, and I were enduring many lengthy periods apart while I carried out my responsibilities during the pandemic,” he said.
Mr. Tory said he had alerted the city’s integrity commissioner of the relationship for review, and would work with senior staff members, including Jennifer McKelvie, Toronto’s deputy mayor, on a transition “in the coming days.”
Michael Thompson, the previous deputy mayor, a largely ceremonial post, resigned last fall after facing sexual assault charges.
A lawyer by training and a former leader of Ontario’s Conservative Party, Mr. Tory was elected in 2014 as mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. He succeeded Rob Ford, who was stripped of most of his power, but refused to resign, after he confessed to smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford began treatment for malignant liposarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2014 and died in 2016 at age 46.
Following four tumultuous years of Mr. Ford, who was criticized for a lack of civility at City Hall, Mr. Tory ushered in a period of stability, albeit with a mixed record. He promoted ambitious transit plans in his campaigns that critics say have fallen short in delivery, and successfully lobbied the Ontario premier, Doug Ford, for “strong mayor” powers. That measure, effective first in Toronto and Ottawa but later to be rolled out elsewhere in the province, gives mayors more sway over the city budget, as well as expanded power to pass or veto city bylaws.
Mr. Tory did not take questions from reporters on Friday.
“I deeply regret having to step away from a job that I love in a city that I love even more,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry, and I apologize unreservedly to the people of Toronto.”