Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, now Toronto’s Deputy Mayor overseeing the Office of the Mayor, looks out over Nathan Phillips Square on her first day in the mayor’s office. She wants residents to know that she is still their councillor and will be available to them first.
By Kathryn Stocks
John Tory took the city by surprise on February 10 when he announced he would resign as mayor because of an affair with a former staff member. After getting his budget passed by Toronto City Council, he stepped down officially a week later and our councillor, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, stepped up.
McKelvie is now the Deputy Mayor overseeing the Office of the Mayor and will remain in that position until a new mayor is chosen in a by-election. “When I signed up to be deputy mayor, there is an obligation that comes with that position and it does say that you would fill the office of the mayor if it is vacant,” she said. “It’s what I signed up for and certainly never thought it would happen, but I take my commitments seriously.”
Some of her new commitments include regular meetings with the senior leadership team as well as all of the protocol obligations that are part of the mayor’s role. McKelvie said she will be “ensuring that the day-to-day services we rely upon continue to run smoothly until we have a new mayor in place.” She will not be running for mayor nor will she have the “strong-mayor” powers that Tory was given by the province.
When she first heard the bombshell about Tory’s resignation, “I was surprised and really respect that he did what he thinks is best for him, for his family and the City of Toronto.” McKelvie said her family has been really supportive. “They’re awesome. I thought I should have made a joke about how they should get used to seeing me on the screen more than in the house.”
It will take some time before the by-election can be held. The next council meeting is scheduled for March 29 and the office of the mayor will be declared vacant then, unless councillors call an earlier meeting. “This is going to be the single largest by-election that has ever been held in Canada and the clerks need time to prepare for that,” McKelvie said. “I’m following their guidance.”
Scarborough–Rouge Park residents wondering whether they’ll have access to their councillor over the next few months can rest assured. “My commitment to our community does not change, I will just be working more hours to stay on top of things,” she said. She’ll have help from her constituency staff who will still be responding to inquiries and concerns.
“I remain available for our residents first. We’ll get through this and I look forward to only serving our residents of Scarborough–Rouge Park when the new mayor is in place,” McKelvie said. She is hoping everything will go as smoothly as possible during the transition.