Toronto is on the brink of selecting its next mayor, following the resignation of its longstanding leader due to an extramarital affair.
The race for mayor has attracted an unprecedented number of candidates, totaling 102, including an unexpected contender named Molly, a six-year-old wolf-husky dog.
Molly’s owner, Toby Heaps, has entered the race with a unique platform focused on combating excessive salt use on city roads during winter, which can harm the paws of dogs like Molly.
Heaps also aims to address housing affordability, propose tax hikes for billion-dollar businesses, and advocate for a ban on fossil-fuel heating systems in new properties.
In an interview with the BBC, Heaps expressed his belief that having an animal present in decision-making processes at city hall would lead to better outcomes.
Winning the election would result in Molly becoming Toronto’s honorary dog mayor, an unprecedented and attention-grabbing move. Heaps emphasizes that this election represents an opportunity he couldn’t afford to miss.
Detractors argue that Tory’s tenure has been marked by a city seemingly in crisis, exacerbated by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Concerns include rising gun violence, homelessness, soaring housing prices, and incidents of violence on public transportation.
In spite of these criticisms, Tory was elected three times, with his most recent victory occurring in October 2022 when few challengers emerged, given his perceived likelihood of re-election.
According to a February article in the Toronto Star, the 68-year-old married mayor had an affair with a 31-year-old staffer during the Covid-19 pandemic. He resigned a few days after it was published.
Nelson Wiseman, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Toronto, stated that the upcoming by-election on 26 June is “a wide-open race,” with him out of the picture.
“The difference between last time and this time is we don’t know who is going to win,” Wiseman said.
Karen Chapple, the director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, highlighted that with the field wide open, some are attracted to run just to see if they have a shot.
“There’s kind of a gamblers aspect to it, kind of a Las Vegas aura,” she told the BBC.