Michael Thompson not disqualified from Toronto council election despite sex assault charges, city says

Toronto city councillor Michael Thompson has been charged with two counts of sexual assault. (Grant Linton/CBC News - image credit)
Toronto city councillor Michael Thompson has been charged with two counts of sexual assault. (Grant Linton/CBC News - image credit)

Michael Thompson is not disqualified from running for re-election even though he is facing criminal charges, according to the City of Toronto.

But the city councillor for Ward 21, Scarborough Centre, who faces two counts of sexual assault, has to find a new lawyer.

A candidate who has been criminally charged can run for city council in the October municipal election, and is not disqualified from holding office by the City of Toronto Act, 2006, or any other legislation, according to an email from Toronto Elections, a business unit under the city clerk's office that manages and conducts municipal elections.

Even if a candidate were to withdraw at this point, it is not possible to remove that person's name from the ballot, Toronto Elections added.

"The deadline to withdraw a nomination was 2 p.m. on August 19, 2022. After this date, there are no provisions in the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, to enable a candidate to withdraw from the election," Toronto Elections said in the email.

Thompson, 62, has not indicated whether he is going to withdraw from the council race in his ward. However, he has stepped down as deputy mayor and as chair of council's economic and community development committee.

Ontario Provincial Police said in a news release on Friday that Thompson was charged in connection with assaults that allegedly happened at a private residence in the District Municipality of Muskoka earlier this year.

Thompson surrendered to the OPP on Thursday morning.

A complaint was made about Thompson in September, the OPP said. Thompson is scheduled to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge, Ont. on Nov. 1.

"No further details will be provided to protect the identity of the victims," the OPP said in the release.

Alleged incident happened at lawyer's cottage

On Friday afternoon, Calvin Barry, a criminal defence lawyer who was representing Thompson, said he has dropped him as a client. Barry said the alleged incident, dating back to July 2022, occurred at a cottage property that he owns in Port Carling.

Barry said he was not there at the time, but was with his wife and teenage son visiting his parents and three sisters in Thunder Bay, Ont., where he grew up.

"I and my team at the law firm feel that Michael should retain experienced counsel that may be more objective than I," Barry told CBC Toronto.

Barry added that Thompson is a close personal friend.

"He required immediate legal advice to navigate his visit to the OPP detachment and service of paperwork for his first court appearance," he said. "We try not to act for close friends and family at our firm when and if the need arises."

Thompson, meanwhile, has resigned from the board of governors of Centennial College in the wake of the allegations.

The college said in a statement on Friday that Thompson spoke with the board chair and submitted his resignation on Friday morning.

"Centennial College takes all allegations of sexual assault seriously, therefore it would not be appropriate for Councillor Thompson to continue in his role as a board member while he faces these charges," a college spokesperson said in the statement.