Newest council appointment resigns after controversial social media posts surface

By Momin Qureshi and John Marchesan

The woman tabbed to fill the Ward 1 – Etobicoke North vacancy on Toronto City Council has resigned hours after several homophobic posts surfaced on social media.

Shortly after Rosemarie Bryan was appointed to fill the vacancy left when Michael Ford was elected an MPP in the last provincial election, a number of anti-2SLGBTQ+, Islamophobic and anti-Asian social media posts attributed to her surfaced.

The posts were first brought to light by Jonathan Goldsbie.

Bryan was supported by former councillor Michael Ford and as part of her application, she submitted a number of positive references regarding her charitable work in the community including a 2021 letter from Premier Doug Ford thanking her for her work with the Salvation Army’s Christmas toy drive.

“I represent families living in Toronto, community housing as well as homeowners. I represent small business owners. I represent a strong woman who is not defined by her past or her current situation,” she said as part of her speech before council on Friday.

She went on to outline how her past experiences and relationships with various community groups and organizations over the last two decades make her an ideal candidate to serve on council. Following her five minute speech, there were no questions put to her by other councillors.

Bryan received 21 of the 23 ballots cast with only councillors Josh Matlow (Toronto-St. Paul’s) and Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) voting for one of the other 21 candidates put forward. Councillors Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) and Mark Grimes (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) were not present.

Matlow tells CityNews 680 that while the appointment process was going on, he did a cursory online search of Bryan which raised some red flags for him, however, nothing to the degree of what’s been uncovered.

“It’s disgraceful that Miss Bryan was appointed. She should have never been appointed in the first place, obviously,” said Matlow. “I can’t believe that the majority of my colleagues who did vote for her could have possibly known about the deplorable, hateful type of crap that she’s been supporting on the internet.”

A number of other councillors came out and expressed their concerns following the social media revelations including Robin Buxton Potts (Toronto Centre) who tweeted that had she seen the posts referenced before the vote she would never have supported Bryan.

“I believe that considering this new information she should resign.”

Councillor Mike Layton (University-Rosedale), who also voted for Bryan, called it a “wrong decision” adding that a majority of council would not have voted they way they did had this information been brought forward.

“We relied too heavily on the recommendations being made by former councillor. We need to reopen this debate,” he tweeted.

Shortly before 9 p.m., Bryan issued a statement, saying she was “devastated” that past social media posts she made were now being thrown against her decades of commitment to the community.

“I do not want to make anyone in our city feel like they are not loved and not part of our community,” she wrote without offering any apology for her past actions. “I recognize councillors were not aware of those posts before today’s discussion and now that they are, I recognize many would not have cast their vote for me.”

“I don’t want to hurt all those who supported me and I remain committed to helping my community in any and every way I can.”

“So I have resigned this appointment effective tonight – I believe that is the best way I can continue to serve everyone who loves and supports me and the people of Etobicoke North.”

Mayor John Tory, who also cast a vote in favour of Bryan, said it was appropriate for her to resign noting that councillors are expected to set an example when it comes to “consistency with our shared values.” He called on City officials to review the overall appointment process going forward.

“The upset this has caused everyone involved is extremely unfortunate,” he said. “This is especially unfortunate on the very weekend when we are celebrating the progress we have made together.”

A new interim councillor will have to be appointed following Bryan’s resignation. Both Tyler Herle and Charles Ozzoude were the only other candidates to receive votes on Friday.

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