Tory may be barred from island airport expansion vote if elected mayor

WATCH: Olivia Chow discusses possible conflict-0f-interest issues related to candidate John Tory if he’s elected mayor

TORONTO – John Tory may not be able to vote on the controversial expansion of Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport if he’s elected mayor.

Candidate Olivia Chow wants Tory to declare a conflict-of-interest ahead of the municipal election vote because his son, John A.D. Tory, is the CEO of Private Air Inc. which has a regional office at Toronto’s waterfront island airport.

A report in the Toronto Star says Tory’s son is also a registered lobbyist at city hall.

Chow has already declared her opposition on the expansion plan in contrast to fellow candidate Doug Ford who fully supports it.

Tory has yet to take a position on the matter.

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Chow raised the potential conflict-of-interest issue earlier this week following a debate in Leaside.

The Star reports John A.D. Tory argued in favour of the expansion to the city’s executive committee in March.

Under Toronto’s conflict-of-interest law, Tory would not have to make a formal declaration before voters head to the polls on Oct. 27, but Chow insists he should do so as earlier as possible.

“Either we have a mayor who is in conflict or that we have a lame duck mayor who can’t participate in major decision. Either way the citizens of the city will lose,” Chow told reporters on Friday.

Chow also listed off a number of potential conflict-of-interest issues related to Tory owning shares of Rogers Communication, as well as being a director of  Cara Operations, and member of the board for supermarket chain Metro.

“Tory had previously made the promise that he will resign on the board of Rogers if he is elected,” she said.

“He also made promises before that he would resign at Charter Communications from 2005 on after he was elected leader of the Ontario Progressive Party.  He did not do so. He stayed on until 2009.”

If elected mayor, Chow vowed to increase the integrity commissioner’s powers as well as expanding the lobbyist registry.

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“I believe citizens deserve transparency and accountability and as mayor I will tighten the rules to help them get it,” Chow explained.

READ MORE: Toronto council votes for more study of proposed island airport expansion

Tory told reporters after a press conference on housing and social inclusion on Friday that he would follow all the rules required of him if elected mayor.

“I have said repeatedly and through the campaign I will follow all of the rules that are required of the mayor in order to make sure that I’m on side of what the rules require,” Tory said.

“She’s only indicating a list of things that I do that would be indicative of a busy, engaged citizen.”

Earlier this year, city council voted unanimously to further study a plan that would see the runways at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport expanded to accommodate jets.

Porter Airlines, which flies turbo prop planes at the island airport, wants to use jets instead.

Residents in the area say the expansion will harm the environment and further diminish the quality of life.

A city staff report said the city, pending council approval, could start negotiating with the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) and Transport Canada to amend the 1983 Tripartite Agreement that bans jets from flying to and from the island airport.

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READ MORE: Chow takes shot at Tory over airport expansion

An actual decision on the expansion won’t be made until 2015 with a new council.

With files from The Canadian Press


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