Cynthia Lai, Toronto councillor, dies


Toronto metropolis councillor Cynthia Lai, who was working for re-election in Monday’s municipal vote, has died. She was 68.

Her marketing campaign supervisor, Hratch Aynedjian, confirmed the dying of the Ward 23 Scarborough North councillor on Friday afternoon.

Lai died in hospital and was surrounded by household, Aynedjian mentioned in a press release.

“She championed the causes of her constituents and delivered companies to residents that mirrored the demographic make-up of the ward,” he mentioned.

“The household has requested for privateness and no additional remark shall be offered.”

Aynedjian instructed CP24 that Lai had been battling an sickness all year long. Despite that, the councillor determined to run for re-election within the spring when her situation improved. Aynedjian doesn’t know the specifics of her sickness, saying Lai was very personal.

Lai’s chief of workers, Jim Murphy, remembered the councillor as an amazing contributor to the neighborhood and somebody who needed to proceed serving Ward 23 residents.

“She leaves a beautiful legacy,” Murphy mentioned in an interview with CP24. “Her greatest success, I’d say, was representing them when it comes to their language, when it comes to their tradition, their faith. It was crucial for her to have the demographics of the ward mirrored.”

For instance, he mentioned Lai made positive that planning purposes within the ward have been obtainable in a number of languages to make sure everybody locally knew what was taking place. Murphy added that Lai was additionally an enormous half in making Asialicious, an annual Asian meals pageant in Scarborough, a hit.

“She was somebody who labored very onerous for her neighborhood and by no means forgot her roots when it comes to her starting,” Murphy mentioned.

Lai was first elected because the councillor of the newly shaped Ward 23 Scarborough North in 2018. She was a member of the town’s funds committee, financial and neighborhood growth committee and the Toronto Transit Commission board.

Lai, who celebrated her birthday on Oct. 19, immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong within the Nineteen Seventies. Before coming into politics, she was a profitable realtor and have become the primary Chinese-Canadian president of the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Mayor John Tory, who has endorsed Lai for re-election, remembered Lai as an excellent individual “who was a cheerful optimist whereas on the identical time being skilled, respectful and good at no matter she did.”

“For the final 4 years, Cynthia represented the individuals of Ward 23 Scarborough North with such class and distinction. She was such a pleasant and heat presence at City Hall and I do know I converse for her City Council colleagues after I say she shall be deeply missed,” Tory mentioned in a press release.

“I do know she was all the time so pleased with her heritage, of her household, her achievements in enterprise and her great work for the neighborhood as a volunteer for a lot of charitable causes and in politics.”

Her fellow councillors additionally paid tribute to Lai. Speaking to CP24, Ward 25 Scarborough Rogue Park Coun. Jennifer McKelvie mentioned she was saddened by Lai’s dying.

“My coronary heart is damaged. All of our hearts are damaged,” mentioned McKelvie, who remembered her neighbouring councillor as a staunch and fierce advocate for Scarborough who began great initiatives for her neighborhood.

“We’re all going to overlook her very a lot.”

Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford mentioned he’s saddened concerning the passing of his buddy, who shall be missed.

“Having visited her in Scarborough North, it was clear she was beloved by her constituents and represented them in a real and genuine manner. Condolences to her household,” he mentioned.

Don Valley West Coun. Jaye Robinson tweeted that she was devastated to study of Lai’s passing.

“Cynthia and I developed a powerful bond during the last 4 years – it was an honour to have labored along with her,” Robinson mentioned.

Several politicians from different ranges of presidency additionally supplied their condolences to Lai’s household. Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted: “I’m so saddened to find out about Councillor Cynthia Lai’s passing. My ideas are along with her mates, household and the constituents she served.”

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) additionally launched a press release on the passing of its former president, saying Lai is being remembered for her dedication to the trade and her passionate engagement with members utilizing her cheerful and optimistic manner.

“Cynthia was a trailblazer and helped open the doors for other women. She will be remembered as an accomplished realtor, a fierce advocate for her community and a champion of increasing women’s participation in municipal government,” TRREB President Kevin Crigger mentioned in a press release.


Lai is survived by her husband and two sons.

Flags at a number of metropolis buildings, together with at City Hall and Scarborough Civic Centre, have been lowered to half-mast in honour of the councillor. The Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square was additionally dimmed on Friday.

Condolence books shall be positioned within the City Hall rotunda and the Scarborough Civic Centre as of Sunday for anybody who desires to sign up. Condolences can be emailed to

The metropolis confirmed on Friday night that the election for councillor in Ward 23 will nonetheless be held on Oct 24. Under the Municipal Elections Act, if a candidate dies earlier than voting day and there are no less than two different candidates working, the election will proceed as if that candidate had not been nominated. Three different candidates are vying to signify Scarborough North.

The metropolis mentioned as ballots with Lai’s title have already been printed and can’t be modified in time for Monday, a discover of Lai’s dying shall be made obtainable in all 35 voting locations in Ward 23.

“Any votes forged for the candidate on election day, in addition to these already forged throughout the advance vote and thru mail-in voting, is not going to be counted,” the town mentioned.

It famous that voters who’ve already voted for Lai by way of mail-in ballots or at superior polls is not going to be allowed to vary their alternative.


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