Bruce Davidson (Ontario politician)

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A. Bruce Davidson is a former administrator in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He served as North York's Commissioner of Planning and Development from 1976 until 1983, when his career ended amid controversy. He later campaigned unsuccessfully for a seat on North York's Board of Control.


Davidson was a strong supporter of development plans for North York's city centre. He advocated reforming the city's tenancy laws, calling for the legalization of apartments in single-family dwellings. He argued that the city was experiencing rapid growth, and that several illegal apartments had already sprung up.[1] Davidson also opposed a rapid-transit line for Toronto's waterfront, calling instead for such a line to be built on Finch Avenue.[2] He called for several major development projects, including a new football stadium, to be built in North York rather than downtown Toronto.[3]


Davidson became involved in controversy in 1983, when it was discovered that he had borrowed money from regional developer Lou Charles to buy a $530,000 house in Thornhill. The city's solicitor requested that Davidson resign in late August.[4] He initially refused, arguing that he had done nothing wrong, but offered his resignation after city controller Barbara Greene called for him to be fired.

His settlement package was estimated to be around $7,000.[5] When this payout was criticized in the local media, North York council chose to revoke the compensation deal and fire Davidson outright.[6] Davidson subsequently sued the city, arguing that he suffered mental distress by not being given reasonable notice of his firing. He also claimed damages for "loss of reputation", and later launched libel and slander suits against Barbara Greene and Sergio Marchi.[7]

The police found no evidence that Davidson was in a conflict-of-interest situation, and did not file charges against him. The police report observed that Charles and Davidson were partners in deals outside of North York.[8] Davidson worked as a planning consultant after his dismissal. North York introduced an election expenses disclosure by-law one year after Davidson's dismissal, although North York Mayor Mel Lastman argued that the two developments were unrelated.[9]

1985 campaign

Davidson campaigned for the North York Board of Control in the 1985 municipal election. At a press conference announcing his candidacy, he acknowledged that the loan from Charles was an "error in judgement", and said that he maintained a strong interest in city issues.[10] He reiterated his call for new facilities to be developed in North York, rather than in downtown Toronto.[11]

Davidson's candidacy was criticized in the local media. John Sewell wrote that Davidson "has exhibited such a skewed idea of public service that he deserves no consideration by voters".[12] He finished in seventh place; only the top four candidates were elected. His wrongful dismissal suit was dismissed before it went to trial, in June 1986.[13]

Davidson reapplied to become a city developer in 1989. His supporters, including Irving Chipley, argued that he had "served in purgatory long enough". Mel Lastman argued that council should not even consider Davidson's application.[14] He does not appear to have been re-hired.


  1. Ann Silversides, "UDI ponders ways to aid apartment construction", Globe and Mail, 5 May 1981, B9; David Hayes, "Wheeling around Toronto", Globe and Mail, 9 May 1981, F2.
  2. Alden Baker, "Wheeling around Toronto", Globe and Mail, 13 March 1982, P4.
  3. Denys Horgan, "Unsinkable Mel Lastman can afford a life of ease", Globe and Mail, 25 October 1982, P4.
  4. Peter Moon, "Loan by developer no reason to quit: North York official", Globe and Mail, 29 August 1983, P1.
  5. "Planner should be fired North York controller says", Globe and Mail, 30 August 1983, P4; Peter Moon, "North York planner resigns in debt row", Globe and Mail, 1 September 1983, P1.
  6. Denys Horgan, "North York revokes compensation deal, fires commissioner", Globe and Mail, 7 September 1983, P1.
  7. "Fired commissioner is suing North York", Globe and Mail, 8 November 1983, P3; "Davidson seeking seat on North York board", Globe and Mail, 7 October 1985, A15.
  8. "Planner can't find buyer", Globe and Mail, 17 October 1983, P5; Gail Swainson, "Reversal of fortune", Toronto Star, 3 May 1994, A6.
  9. Joan Breckenridge, "Most Metro municipalities resist disclosure of election expenses", Globe and Mail, 7 July 1984, A20.
  10. "Davidson seeking seat on North York board", Globe and Mail, 7 October 1985, A15.
  11. Dyanne Rivers, "Traffic an issue in controllers' race", Globe and Mail, 6 November 1985, A16.
  12. John Sewell, "Spirit of compromise for Board of Control", Globe and Mail, 8 November 1985, A13.
  13. Drew Fagan, "Dismissal suit is thrown out before trial", Globe and Mail, 11 June 1986, A15.
  14. Royson James, "Councillors split over bid to rehire planner", Toronto Star, 12 April 1989, A8.