Mar 27, 2014

By Jane Brown

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mayoral candidatesRob Ford fell back on familiar claims of “a proven track record” and “stopping the gravy train” in the first televised Toronto mayoral debate.  The embattled mayor also dismissed talk of his scandals as “rewind, rewind, rewind.”

Ford was the focus of the debate last night on Citytv which featured the five main candidates.  In addition to Ford, Olivia Chow, John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Soknacki took part.  None of Ford’s challengers spoke directly about his crack cocaine scandal.  Olivia Chow instead called him “an international embarrassment” and John Tory said Ford has “let the taxpayers down in this city very badly.” Tory later said it wasn’t necessary to mention the specifics.  “If I say he disrespected his office through his behaviour and frankly through the way he’s conducted himself in terms of trying to get things done at city hall which he can’t do anymore,” Tory told reporters, “then that sums it up I think, and I don’t need to repeat all the gory details for everybody out there to hear because they know it very well.”  Tory also spent time targeting Olivia Chow during the debate, calling her “the NDP candidate who wouldn’t possibly think of benefiting the taxpayers.”

The transit issue was a big focus of the debate.  Both Chow and David Soknacki reiterated that they would cancel the three stop subway extension in Scarborough for light rapid transit instead.  Tory, Ford and Stintz support the subway extension and a downtown relief line.  But Stintz claimed she’s the only one who has a solid plan to fund it “because I know, it’s not enough to just be a subway champion, you need a plan to pay for it.”  Stintz wants to sell more than half of the city’s stake in Toronto Hydro to fund the Yonge relief line.

The debate was the first in a seven month stretch that could involve 100 more, most of them untelevised.


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