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Complaint filed against Toronto Mayor John Tory with integrity commissioner over robocalls

Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks during a press conference to update media on a tentative deal reached between the City of Toronto and the city's outside workers, in Toronto, Saturday, Feb 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

A formal complaint has been filed with Toronto’s integrity commissioner against Mayor John Tory regarding his use of robocalls in October’s municipal election.

The complaint was filed on Monday by Parthi Kandavel — an eight-year Toronto District School Board Trustee for Scarborough Southwest.

Kandavel ran for councillor in the election on Oct. 24 in a bid to secure the seat in Ward 20.

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In the complaint, Kandavel claims Tory used his title as mayor to influence the outcome of the election in the ward in a robocall broadcast to residents of Scarborough Southwest on election day.

The complaint claims Tory introduced himself on the call as “Mayor John Tory” and endorsed Gary Crawford on the call.

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The complaint alleges Tory breached sections 7.1 and 8.0 of the city’s Code of Conduct by “improperly using the influence of his office when he referred to himself as ‘Mayor John Tory’ in a robocall in support of the election campaign of Gary Crawford in October 2022.”

The complaint said, “it is a core principle of the Code of Conduct that members of council, including Mr. Tory, will not use any resources or privileges of any kind available to them by virtue of their office to further private interests.”

“This is not about the outcome of this one election, but rather about the spirit of Toronto’s local democracy and the integrity of our public officials,” Kandavel said in a news release. “The City’s own Code of Conduct for elected officials clearly states that ‘using their official position to improperly influence electors’ is prohibited.”

Crawford ultimately secured the seat in Ward 20, garnering 35.07 per cent of the vote. Kandavel collected the second highest amount of votes at 29.61 per cent.

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In an email to Global News, Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner, Jonathan Batty, confirmed his office received the complaint Monday afternoon.

“I have not decided whether to investigate the matter,” Batty said.

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Batty said “at this point” he has “no further information to provide.”

In a statement emailed to Global News on Tuesday, Don Peat, a spokesperson for Tory’s office, said they “received a copy of the complaint and a press release from the media” Monday night.

“The Mayor respects the Integrity Commissioner and his process, and in consideration of this, we will not be making further comment at this time,” the statement read.

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