Politics plays a role in Toronto city council ‘class photo’ — but so does height

Councillor John Filion arrived running and breathless; Cynthia Lai wore fuchsia and Shelley Carroll will have to be photoshopped into Toronto’s official city council photo for 2018-2022.

One of the first orders of business on the morning of Thursday’s council meeting was to corral all the councillors to have their picture taken together, like a school class photo for the ages.

The 2014 council photo featured a much larger group of councillors. That was before Doug Ford's provincial government reduced the number of wards in the city.
The 2014 council photo featured a much larger group of councillors. That was before Doug Ford’s provincial government reduced the number of wards in the city. (Bernard Weil / Toronto Star file photo)
City council’s 2018-2022 photo features Mayor John Tory in the centre of the front row, flanked by members of his executive committee.
City council’s 2018-2022 photo features Mayor John Tory in the centre of the front row, flanked by members of his executive committee.

No one wanted to admit to spending a lot of time figuring out what to wear, but clearly, some councillors spent some time deciding what to wear for a photo that is after all, for the historical record.

It will hang prominently outside the mayor’s office for the term and then be filed away in the city archives for future generations to consult.

“It’s what all the school kids look at when they come to city hall,” said Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 16, Don Valley East), sporting a dapper suit and tie for the picture. The veteran councillor said it was his eighth official city council photo, including his service on North York council.

When left-leaning David Miller was Toronto mayor, Minnan-Wong, a conservative, was consigned to the background of the photo.

“I think the feeling was mutual,” said Minnan-Wong.

This year, as last term, Minnan-Wong was seated in the front row, directly on Mayor John Tory’s right. Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 5, York South—Western) was seated on the mayor’s left, as she was last term. Both Minnan-Wong and Nunziata are regarded as Tory supporters.

The first row was filled with members of the mayor’s executive committee and those holding other senior posts.

Rabble rouser Gord Perks (Ward 4, Parkdale High-Park) was consigned to the back row, third from the left, a corner far from Tory, with whom he often clashes.

A seating plan is devised ahead of time, but it usually gets switched around in the last minutes, depending on height and what people are wearing, said Bev Kurmey, Toronto’s senior project manager in strategic protocol and external relations. There are conventions: members of the mayor’s executive committee get the front row.

Height is, as with all photos, a primary consideration when arranging the councillors, according to photographer Joncarlo Lista, president New Paramount Studios.

Lista…

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