Welcome to the real family business, Mikey!
It’s easy to be cynical about the Ward 2, Etobicoke North by-election to replace the late Rob Ford. It was a foregone conclusion that Michael Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) would beat out the 11 other political hopefuls and claim his birthright. After all, Rob Ford represented the ward from 2000 to 2010, and when Rob was mayor Doug Ford represented it from 2010 to 2014, and Rob represented again from 2014 to 2016. Doug Ford Sr. also served as a backbench MPP in the area in the late 90s. The Ford family name means a great deal in that part of the city.
Rob Ford may not have had the passion for labels, but he loved the other family business—politics.
While the Fords might be the most famous example, they are far from the only political family represented at Toronto City Council. In fact, more than one quarter of Council’s members come from a political family. It may be hard to win a seat in the first place or to unseat an incumbent, but it sure helps to have the family support and knowledge to get there.
To be slightly less cynical, some of these families have a strong commitment to public service and have provided leadership that makes their communities better. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the best way to ensure diverse representation.
Here’s a look at the 12 members of Council that come from political families. Let us know if we missed any!
Michael Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North): Michael’s maternal grandfather Doug Ford Sr. was a one-term MPP in the Mike Harris government. His uncle Doug Ford served as councillor for Ward 2, and another of his uncles is Rob Ford. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre): Stephen’s father Doug previously held the Ward 3 seat before briefly becoming an Etobicoke MPP under Tim Hudak. Doug is also the former mayor of Etobicoke, and received the key to the city from Rob Ford after the former deputy mayor left Council in 2013.
Maria Augimeri (Ward 8, York Centre): Her husband Odoardo Di Santo was an NDP MPP from 1975 to 1985. In the 1997 federal election, he placed third to independent John Nunziata. Di Santo has a street in North York named after him.
Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston): Frances’s brother John served as a York alderman from 1978 to 1982, and as a Liberal and an independent MP from 1984 to 2000. He unsuccessfully ran for the Liberal leadership in 1990, to be mayor of Toronto in 2003, and to unseat incumbent councillor Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston) in 2014. He sometimes works as a lobbyist.
Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park): Doucette’s mother and grandfather were both mayors in England, representing the Isle of Wight and Winchester, respectively.
Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence): The Chair of the TTC is the son of Liberal MPP and former councillor Mike Colle, who would like you to know that he is a big supporter of locally manufactured ketchup.
Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence): The soft-spoken first-term councillor won a crowded Council race with only 16 per cent of the vote. At the time, her father, John Carmichael, was the Conservative MP representing Don Valley West.
Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina): His dad, Jack Layton, was a longtime Toronto councillor who launched a failed bid for mayor in 1991. He became the leader of the federal NDP more than 10 years later, and became leader of the Opposition before passing away in 2011. Jack’s spouse, Olivia Chow, was also a longtime Toronto councillor and MP, and ran for mayor in 2014 where she finished third to John Tory and Doug Ford. Mike Layton’s grandfather Robert Layton was a Conservative cabinet minister in the Mulroney government.
Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina): Both Cressy’s mom and dad served on Toronto City Council. Gordon Cressy was a councillor from 1978 to 1982, and Joanne Campbell was a councillor from 1982 to 1988. You may remember them most recently from that time they put together a petition of powerful Torontonians to shame John Tory into reversing his stance on carding—which he did.
David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale): The longtime Willowdale councillor sometimes invokes his mother Esther on the floor of Council, and waxes nostalgia for the times she took him to rallies in support of building the Spadina Expressway. She was first elected as a North York alderman in 1972, and was elected to the Board of Control from 1976 until her death in 1987. A football stadium and street are named after her in North York. David’s niece Erica Shiner narrowly lost her bid to become the TDSB school trustee in Ward 5, York Centre in last night’s by-election.
Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York): Born and raised in Collingwood, Ontario, McMahon’s father, Ron Emo, served as mayor of the Georgian Bay town. He’s still involved in community affairs, and there’s a road named after him there.
Michelle Holland (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest): The second-term councillor was twice elected as Michelle Berardinetti, but has changed her name since separating from Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti.