Toronto Mayor John Tory refuses to be drawn into the debate over the city’s financial future

Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services

TORONTO — Mayor John Tory stood firm Tuesday night, refusing to be drawn into the debate over the city’s financial future, as a City Council committee debated the possibility of cutting services in order to plug a funding hole.

“I’m not going to get into that. I was elected and I took a tough line [during last year’s mayoral campaign],” Tory told reporters after a three-hour session in which council repeatedly batted about how to solve the city’s $3.8-billion budget shortfall.

Mayor Tory speaks about his campaign against Mayor Rob Ford in October.

A day earlier at city hall, Tory’s handpicked chief administrative officer, Michael Thompson, said it would be unwise to cut services because the city has a responsibility to its taxpayers. Thompson, who was also Toronto city manager, argued that cuts would be the wrong move in times when Toronto is still recovering from the financial crisis and housing affordability problems it faced in 2011.

While Tory took a public stance against the debate, the councillor who had the most impact on how he was to deal with the city’s crisis last year, Andrea Horwath, appeared to have made up her mind about the matter.

“To be honest with you, right now I don’t see an option being explored that’s not going to be very painful to people,” Horwath told reporters after the council session.

“I’ll let the mayor go on,” Tory said, but added: “The fact that the mayor is not willing to engage in this conversation is, frankly, baffling.”

Despite Tory’s comments that he would not be drawn into the debate, the mayor, his chief of staff, and Thompson all said the discussion is at an early stage.

“There is a discussion and we want to hear about what options there are,” Tory said. “I don’t want to speculate on what we’re going to do in the future.”

City council is considering a suite of options, but none are clearly favoured at this

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