Ward 38 councillor and deputy mayor for Scarborough Glenn De Baeremaeker announced Monday that he will not be running for a seat on Toronto’s city council in the upcoming municipal election.
In a release, De Baeremaeker’s office said the move follows “a provincial decision that sees his ward chopped in half and redistributed to neighbouring areas.”
Premier Doug Ford has called the Toronto City Council dysfunctional and tabled legislation to slash Toronto’s city council from the current 47 to 25 seats on July 30.
De Baeremaeker admits the proposed new ward boundaries will drastically reduce his chances of winning a seat in the municipal elections this fall.
“A campaign is a grueling, seven-day-a-week proposition,” said De Baeremaeker. “It’s a lot to ask of people when winning is a long shot,”
Ford has said he wanted to make the change since his days at city hall, even though no mention of it was made during his spring election campaign.
“I promised to reduce the size and cost of government and end their culture of waste and mismanagement in government,” he said when announcing the plan. “This is something I fought for at city hall, something I continue to believe in today.”
NDP leader Andrea Horwath called the move a “backroom plot to steal power from the people” and Toronto Mayor John Tory has suggested that the decision should be put to a “binding referendum.”
The legislation has not yet passed and the proposed cuts are not final, but De Baeremaeker said he believes it will be pushed through.
“If by some miracle we keep 47 seats, then I will run,” he told CityNews. However, he believes that is highly unlikely as the Premier has the legal and constitutional authority to change the number of council seats.
He said he’d rather not fight against former colleagues for the few jobs left.
“It’s a bit like The Hunger Games – at the end of the day only one or two will survive,” he told CityNews.
The 15-year council veteran says he doesn’t know what’s next exactly, as he’s been “110% laser focused on the job.”
“I don’t have a LinkedIn, I don’t have a plan B,” he said, adding “The odds were against me. I’m not going to kick and whine and complain – I’m going to be proactive and take control of my life. I’ll move on to some other interesting and amazing challenge.”
In the immediate future, he says his tasks include taking care of his local residents and ensuring that John Tory is reelected as Mayor of Toronto.
Tory released a statement thanking De Baeremaeker for his service.
“Glenn has been a tireless defender of Scarborough and specifically building transit in Scarborough including SmartTrack, the Eglinton East LRT and the Scarborough Subway Extension,” said Tory.
Tory also acknowledged De Baeremaeker’s contributions in ensuring the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line to Scarborough Town Centre becomes a reality.
De Baeremaeker is the first councillor to drop out of the race based on the proposed reduction of seats. Councillors Janet Davis, John Fillion, Margaret McMahon and Josh Colle announced their retirement from municipal politics earlier this year.
With files from The Canadian Press