John Tory declares conflict of interest on Toronto Island Airport
John Tory speaks to supporters after winning the election and becoming the new mayor of the City of Toronto in Toronto on October 27, 2014. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Michael Shulman, CTV Toronto
Published Friday, November 28, 2014 9:03PM EST
Incoming Toronto mayor John Tory will have to step aside in any city dealings involving Rogers and the proposed expansion to the Toronto Island Airport.
With the newly elected mayor and council set to be sworn in on Monday, Tory released a statement regarding possible conflicts of interest.
Tory stressed that avoiding conflicts is "extremely important," and he will "follow all of the rules and act with the integrity, honesty and professionalism that the public rightly demands."
The mayor-elect confirmed that because of his son's role as CEO of Private Air Inc., he has a vested interest in the success of the company. Private Air Inc. has a regional office at Billy Bishop Airport, and has lobbied in favour of extending the runway and allowing jets to land on the Island.
"I cannot in good conscience interfere with my son's ability to earn an income and support his family," Tory said in the statement.
This possible conflict of interest was the subject of an attack by Olivia Chow on Tory, during the election campaign.
“Either we have a mayor who is in conflict or we have a lame duck mayor who can’t participate in major decisions,” Chow said at the time.
Tory also said that he will keep his election promise to resign from the board of directors of Rogers Communication Inc., and the board of Metro Inc.
However, Tory will continue to oversee various Rogers family-related trusts and private boards. He has promised to declare a conflict in any council matters that involve a Rogers-controlled company.
Tory says he will maintain this role with the telecom giant because he gave his word to the late Ted Rogers that he would not resign "so long as I was able."
From 1995 to 1999 Tory was in charge of Rogers Media, and from 1999 to 2003 he ran Rogers Cable. In the past, he has referred to Ted Rogers as a friend and mentor.
Tory also said he would declare a conflict of interest should matters arise with Stratheden Homes Ltd. Tory’s wife Barbara Hackett is president of the company, which designs and renovates residential properties.
In order to avoid potential conflicts, Tory reached out to Valerie Jepson, the city's integrity commissioner, and prominent lawyers George Rust-D'Eye, Clayton Ruby and Thomas Barlow.
In a correspondence between Jepson and Tory, the commissioner said that Tory must declare all his potential interests and step aside from council or local board activities when a conflict arises. Jepson urged Tory to establish a proactive framework in his office that would screen him should there be an issue.
"My office has developed a framework for monitoring and proactively addressing any potential issues that could arise … with the assistance of the Integrity Commissioner and external counsel, said Tory's statement.
"I believe that's what the public expects of its elected officials and as Mayor I intend to lead by example."