Longtime Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter confirms run to be Toronto mayor

·3 min read
Scarborough–Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter served as education minister in the government of former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne. (Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit)
Scarborough–Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter served as education minister in the government of former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne. (Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit)

Four-term Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter confirmed Thursday she will resign her seat at Queen's Park and run to be Toronto's next mayor.

"This election is a turning point for Toronto. We have the choice to either rise to the next level or go off a cliff. I will be the champion that Toronto needs so we can rise to the next level," Hunter said in a statement.

Her campaign will focus on safety on public transit, building more housing and addressing homelessness in the city.

Hunter also promised she would not use the controversial 'strong mayor' powers bestowed by the province late last year, that were then bolstered following a request from former Mayor John Tory. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said the powers will remain in place no matter who is elected mayor in the upcoming June 26 vote.

First elected to represent the riding of Scarborough–Guildwood at the provincial level in 2013, Hunter went on to serve as the minister of education and associate minister of finance under former premier Kathleen Wynne.

She was one of only seven Ontario Liberals to win re-election in 2018, when the party lost 48 of its previously-held 55 seats at Queen's Park. Four years later, she was among the eight Liberal MPPs to win a seat when Ford's Progressive Conservatives expanded their majority.

Hunter also ran for the Liberal leadership, ultimately losing to Stephen Del Duca.

In her statement, Hunter said she will officially register as a candidate for mayor on April 3 — the first day nominations open — and subsequently resign her seat at the provincial legislature.

"I am determined to be a champion for all of Toronto and ensure that the city is moving in the right direction. It's time to get Toronto moving forward and to make it a city that works for everyone," she said.

Big field of candidates

Hunter is the latest Toronto politician to join a crowded field of mayoral candidates.

Coun. Brad Bradford confirmed Wednesday he will run. Coun. Josh Matlow and former councillors Ana Bailão and Giorgio Mammoliti have also said their names will be on the ballot. Coun. Stephen Holyday has also expressed interest in joining the race, though hasn't made it official.

Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders confirmed his candidacy last week. Some who ran in the last mayoral election are also set to run again, including Gil Penalosa, Chloe Brown and Blake Acton, while former Toronto Sun columnist Anthony Furey is also pursuing a run.

Meanwhile, former MPP and mayoral candidate Olivia Chow is also eyeing another go, according to the Toronto Star (CBC Toronto has been chasing confirmation from Chow).

The upcoming mayoral byelection was triggered by Tory's sudden resignation last month, which came after he admitted to an extramarital relationship with a former staffer in his office.

Candidate nominations are set to open on April 3 at 8:30 a.m. and close May 12 at 2 p.m.