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CP24′s Third Mayoral Debate Teaches Us Nothing

Photo of Tuesday’s mayoral debate, courtesy of CP24.

For some reason, selected candidates for the mayorship of Toronto had a debate tonight on CP24. Christopher Bird watched tonight’s debate for Torontoist, because you probably didn’t.

7:50 PM: So tonight’s debate will, we understand, feature Sarah Thomson, Rocco Rossi, Rob Ford, Joe Pantalone, and George Smitherman. The topics: taxes and the G20. See, it’s not just Torontoist who can’t stop talking about the G20! We are merely reflecting the greater zeitgeist.
7:59 PM: CP24 anchor reminds us all that Giorgio Mammoliti has dropped out of the mayoral race, so this debate will be “slightly different” than the last one. Way to sell it, CP24!
8:01 PM: Ben Mulroney hosts tonight’s debate, because… actually I can’t think of a reason why Ben Mulroney has to be involved with tonight’s debate. Or anything else televised. Ever.

8:02 PM: CP24 has people following the twitters! At local supermarkets and restaurants! Experts who will tell you what everybody really said after they say it! They are totally for real a news network you guys! Just like the big news networks!
8:04 PM: Ben Mulroney expresses worry about the land transfer tax. “When I buy my next house…” It is not wrong for you to want to smack Ben Mulroney. Get in line. It is a very, very long line indeed.
8:07 PM: Moderator Guy and his bowtie asks everybody how their campaign is going. Moderator Guy is really, really bald. His head is shiny. “Aha,” says George Smitherman, “but my head is much balder and shinier!” “Yes,” says Rocco Rossi, “but my baldness is more fiscally responsible, which is the best way to be bald.” Rob Ford glowers because he is not nearly so bald as his competitors. No, none of this happened, but so what? The opening chitchat was boring.
8:10 PM: We open with “Ask Me,” CP24′s gimmick for having candidates ask each other questions of their choosing. George Smitherman asks Rob Ford what specific things Rob Ford will cut when Rob Ford is mayor and actually has to cut specific things. Rob Ford blathers about Kyle Rae’s retirement party and the usual list of “how dare city government officials spend money on this thing which outrages me,” then gets a number wrong and is corrected by Sarah Thomson.
8:12 PM: Thomson asks Rossi if the city will run a deficit or build streetcars. Rossi says that we can’t run a deficit, so instead we will be fiscally responsible and responsibly fiscal.
8:14 PM: Joe Pantalone asks Smitherman why Smitherman said we should build jails, when jails are the province’s responsibility. Smitherman says that he doesn’t think that’s the city’s responsibility, but the province should do it and Toronto should “put pressure” on the provincial government to build jails. This is because Toronto putting pressure on the province to do anything has worked wonders in the past.
8:15 PM: Ford asks Rossi if Rossi will uphold his promise to sell Toronto Hydro, unlike Smitherman, who “changed his mind.” Smitherman complains. Rossi says why yes of course he’ll sell Toronto Hydro, because he needs to pay for expanded transit. Smitherman complains some more.
8:18 PM: Rossi allows Thomson to just talk about her policy suggestions for allowing developers to build more efficiently along transit corridors and for endorsing “better looking” buildings. Argument follows about the role of the OMB in this situation in a way that anybody who didn’t know what the OMB is would go “whuh?”
8:19 PM: Ben Mulroney goes to the CP24 newsroom! The internet is speaking! The internet does not like vehicle sales fees! The internet! The internet! The internet! (This has been an attempt to mimic the level of content in this segment.)
8:24 PM: CP24 lady reporter: “Taxes!” Ben Mulroney: “Taxes!” Moderator Bowtie: “Taxes!” Rob Ford, responding to the Pavlovian bell being rung, starts talking about horrible taxes he will cut. Smitherman points out that Ford has just cut a billion dollars of revenue and he needs to cut things—what will he cut? Ford complains about past government spending. Smitherman points out that that money is already gone and will not magically come back. Then Sarah Thomson jumps in like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and says that Rob Ford is a worthless lazy slug who can’t work with anybody else in council and says “You say you’ve been in council ten years; it was more like five.” Sarah Thomson is MAD!
8:28 PM: Joe Pantalone seems to blame George Smitherman for how municipalities have no real power in Canada, which—Smitherman is many things, but he didn’t write the British North America Act.
8:30 PM: Rocco Rossi jokes that “a city council meeting has broken out” as everybody shouts at each other. Then he says that the real problem is that city employees get paid too much money, but he’s not anti-labour. (Some of his best friends work for a living!)
8:34 PM: Bowtie asks again who will cut taxes, because maybe Rob Ford didn’t get enough opportunities to jump up and go “ooooh ooooh oooooh me.” You know who Rob Ford reminds me of? Flounder from Animal House. Except shoutier.
8:35 PM: Everybody else asks Flounder yet again what services he’ll cut to pay for the tax cuts. Flounder once again refuses to answer the question, this time complaining that George Smitherman has never spent any time in city council. Flounder’s face is so red!
8:36 PM: Pantalone has a chart! The chart shows that property taxes in Toronto are the lowest in the GTA. But Smitherman is mad because Toronto has other taxes and yet the city still appears broke. Pantalone points out that provincial auditors agree with the city’s assessment. Smitherman responds by asking why the city hasn’t gotten the province to reverse the Mike Harris–era downloading, pointing out that David Miller has a magic genie and it would only take one wish, but Miller is too selfish and so is Pantalone.
8:37 PM: Sarah Thomson explains that “it’s all about credibility.” Make your own joke.
8:40 PM: A grocery shopper complains about the taxes she just paid for her groceries, which—what?
8:41 PM: Oh, it’s a segue into “value of services for taxes paid” debate portion. Rossi starts complaining about the garbage strike, because he’s not anti-labour. Thomson asks Flounder what Flounder will invest in. Flounder responds by saying that Thomson is a “nice lady,” but that she has zero political experience and has never even called anybody a faggot or threatened a soccer coach or anything. Thomson tries that “five years” line again, then calls Flounder a bully.
8:45 PM: Smitherman starts demanding better services than what we currently have and talks about dirty bathrooms. Pantalone says that the bathrooms weren’t that dirty.
8:46 PM: Rossi says that if we don’t lower commercial property tax rates, we will become Detroit. If it meant that the Leafs would do as well as the Red Wings do, a lot of Torontonians would probably say “….well, okay.”
8:47 PM: Thomson insults Flounder again, presumably because she’s figured out that Joe Pantalone isn’t going to win and somebody might as well get the anti-Ford vote, so why not her?
8:51 PM: Ben Mulroney: “If you thought that last segment was fast-paced…” No. Nobody thought that.
8:52 PM: Twitter asks the candidates who will make it cheapest to live in Toronto? Rossi explains that he has a multi-year plan to be fiscally responsible and responsibly fiscal, and that we have to take on the unions, because he’s not anti-labour.
8:53 PM: Audience member asks about how the candidates would prepare Toronto for a future G20 summit which will never happen. Flounder says “we all knew was going to be a disaster,” as everybody else groans and says “you said this was a win/win.” Then Flounder says the police were awesome and should have stomped the protesters more.
8:54 PM: Somebody on Twitter says that Rob Ford is actually Lord Harkonnen from the movie version of Dune. Firstly, NEERRRRRRRD. Secondly, Flounder works better because Flounder is a pathetic joke.
8:54 PM: Would Joe Pantalone support a full public inquiry? And the answer is… sorta?
8:56 PM: Audience member: are we ready for the oncoming flood of environmental refugees due to global warming? Thomson says that we have to open the doors of our city and a Thomson mayoralty would be open to new ideas and together we can make a much stronger open Toronto. Open!
8:58 PM: A nutritionist asks if any of the candidates will stop the city fluoridating water. Smitherman says that we should stick with Toronto Public Health’s opinion, and that our water is tasty and delicious and kicks the ass of lots of other cities’ water.
9:03 PM: G20 time! (Officially this time, not because some people wanted to ask questions about it.) Thomson says that the “thugs” ruined things for everybody and all the media attention went to the thugs. Smitherman says that policing was a bit iffy, and he doesn’t support a public inquiry but instead an “independent investigation,” which is like a public inquiry except it’s much more polite. And not public.
9:06 PM: Pantalone says that the G20 should have been held at Exhibition Place. Rossi says that it wouldn’t have made a difference and that the police did a very good job except on Sunday, when there were “some issues,” and that Bill Blair did a very good job too, especially when he lied about a nonexistent law.
9:07 PM: Thomson says she totally believes in Bill Blair too.
9:07 PM: Flounder is so mad because the other candidates are “sticking up for the protesters,” and either you support the cops or you don’t, and that the police should have totally just beat the shit out of everybody, more or less. Okay, he didn’t say that last bit, but you know he really, really wanted to.
9:10 PM: Someone on Twitter says that Rob Ford is actually Bluto. Which of course illustrates Toronto’s problem: where is our Popeye, and do we have sufficient spinach reserves?
9:11 PM: Adam Vaughan congratulates all the candidates for writing the Prime Minister and asking for compensation for the loss of revenues Toronto businesses suffered, then points out that the Prime Minister has, unsurprisingly, said jack. Vaughan challenges the candidates to talk even more strongly to the PM.
9:12 PM: Twitter doesn’t want to vote for any of the candidates! That is a sentiment wholly new when it comes to elections of any kind.
9:16 PM: The return of “Hot Seat!” Rocco Rossi asks Sarah Thomson about what Thomson should do regarding compensation for businesses. Sarah “Google” Thomson says there’s a federal website where people can go and apply for reimbursement, and that we need to keep putting pressure on the government, and it’s about credibility. And being open.
9:18 PM: Flounder asks Rossi if he would transfer the land transfer tax and the vehicle fee, because Flounder cares about nothing else. Rossi says “no,” because we still need the money, at least in the short term.
9:20: Pantalone asks Flounder if it’s true that while he was a city councillor, he was taking a full-time salary from his father’s company. Flounder says he has a great voting record and attendance record, and says “yes” because we need a businessman to run this city. Remember how good Mel Lastman was as mayor? Think that, but even moreso! That is what Flounder promises you!
9:21 PM: Thomson asks Pantalone: the city is in debt and has a deficit and you’re very much responsible in part for that, so why aren’t you taking responsibility for that? Pantalone pulls out his chart again and says that we don’t have a deficit, we just borrow money for infrastructure. Thomson says we’ve lost credibility. Again.
9:23 PM: Smitherman asks Rossi about sale of city assets, and requests a list of the three billion dollars’ worth of assets Rossi will sell. Rossi says he’ll get that out any moment now, really, he promises, and it will be awesome, and he will get two billion dollars for selling Toronto Hydro, and Smitherman’s fiscal plan sucks. Rossi’s eyes are bugging out all crazy-like. One strongly thinks he doesn’t much like Smitherman at all.
9:27 PM: In a restaurant they’ve found somebody to complain about the TTC for some reason. Taxes! Somebody keep Flounder from jumping at that person!
9:30 PM: What do each of the candidates want their legacy as mayor to be? Pantalone wants to be remembered as a city-builder and to build transit outwards and to be the guy who helped institute a national strategy for transit and infrastructure. Maybe he really does have a magic genie bottle.
9:32 PM: Thomson wants her legacy to be one of openness and of making the city pretty and safe and open.
9:33 PM: Flounder says he wants his legacy to be one of trust: voters can trust Flounder! Flounder stands for transparency and there won’t be any scandals, because if there’s one thing you think of when you think of Rob Ford, it’s lack of controversy.
9:33 PM: Smitherman wants to be the kind of mayor who gets Toronto out of a rut and who will lead Toronto to its destiny. Together, we will destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.
9:34 PM: Rossi puts in a dig over the secondary exits issue at Donlands and basically says “I won’t do that.” Rossi hates secondary exits, and that is the type of mayor he will be!
9:36 PM: And it is over. What have we learned? Ben Mulroney is a schmuck, but we all knew that. Nobody is willing to say that police abused their powers during the G20, but we all knew that. Rob Ford wants to cut taxes, but he won’t say what spending he’ll cut, even when asked repeatedly. Also, he is an angry, angry man, but we all knew that. Rocco Rossi and George Smitherman really don’t like each other at all, but we all knew that, and their plans for being fiscally responsible are very vague, but we all knew that. Joe Pantalone can’t win because he’s got all the baggage of the past six years, but we all knew that. And Sarah Thomson really wants us to be credible and open and to have a pretty city because people like pretty cities, and… well, I guess that’s new.
That’s what we have gleaned, out of an hour and a half. Sarah Thomson likes credibility and openness. Hooray.


  • accozzaglia

    It’s not that I won’t watch it because I’m not interested. It’s that I can’t get CP24 where I am tonight. 8:14 PM had me laughing. Keep up the great updates, CB!

  • http://undefined wilshire
    and zomg it works on a Mac unlike their regular livestream

  • accozzaglia

    Grrrr! Not fair! Search on “debate” got me nothing, and neither did look at the TV listings. I owe you a dosai.

  • accozzaglia

    The more I watch, the more I think we’re in deep, deep trouble.

  • http://undefined wilshire

    Where are we gonna jump ship to?

  • accozzaglia

    I really, really don’t know.

  • http://undefined Chris

    I love the token G20 footage.
    Also, the moderation on this debate sucks, where is Steve Paikin when we need him.
    Joe Pants is the only sane man in the room.

  • accozzaglia

    In summary, as it sounded to these ears:
    Sarah Thomson: “I want to do this, but I think I’m really in over my head. Rob, you’re cheap like an old rental tux.”
    Rob Ford: “I am pathologically incapable of seeing the fiscal forest from the councillor spending trees. Toss me that mayoral chain saw. Sarah, wouldja fill ‘er up?”
    Joe Pantalone: “I am not loud enough for people to hear what I have to say, so somehow I’m supposed to accept full responsibility for a role which I only had partial leadership. I’ll continue after everyone else quiets down.”
    Rocco Rossi: “I better tone down my pit bull rhetoric, because it makes me look like a real turn-off. Oh wait. That means I suddenly don’t have anything useful to say. Crap.”
    George Smitherman: “Whatever power I have at the provincial level won’t transfer to the municipal level, but I still think I’m going to have better sway at Queen’s Park than any of you clowns. I am super.”

  • http://undefined lunarworks

    Ben Mulroney?
    Why, oh why, did CTV have to buy CP24?

  • Michael Brown

    Come on Ben your name is so closely tied to Canadian pop music scene…but moderating municipal elections is gonna to take the shine off your star…If only you had asked all candidates to sing. Here is what I think they would have performed:
    Sarah Thomson: Vogue by Madonna
    Rob Ford: Wanna be startin something by Michael Jackson
    Joe Pantalone: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
    Rocco Rossi: Gangster’s paradise by Coolio
    George Smitherman: I’m with you by Avril Lavigne

  • Bobby

    Their choice of Ben Mulroney isn’t really that surprising, as there aren’t really a lot of media figures that don’t already have fully formed, involved feelings about how the G20 went down, Paikin included.
    Thanks for the coverage, I much appreciate you sacrificing your evening for us.

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    George Smitherman: “Whatever power I have at the provincial level won’t transfer to the municipal level, but I still think I’m going to have better sway at Queen’s Park than any of you clowns. I am super.”

    And just imagine how much less effective Mayor Smitherman will be when anti-McGuinty sentiment hands the next provincial election to the PCs, allowing them to recommence pursuit of their Common Sense Revolution. You and I may think that’s a ludicrous nightmare, but there are people who’ll be voting in the next election who have no memory of the heights of Harris-era depravity.

  • accozzaglia

    I don’t think that’s a ludicrous nightmare, because I believe it is a nightmare. Harris was recent enough that well over half of the next provincial electorate will have been able to vote the last time Harris still held an official title of overlor . . . premier.
    Even so, it is more likely that the majority of the next provincial electorate, by dint of not having paid close enough attention to their civics lessons, will have little awareness of that loathed phrase, “creature of the province” that makes major cities across the country so powerless. For rural activists. they might know this fact and use it to their ends, but for urban and suburban voters, the disconnect between the party for which they vote and the next provincial government ignoring their constituency will persist as it has over the last several election cycles.
    Increasingly, suburban communities can no longer ignore the urban core which gave them the influx of people in the first place. Increasingly, as suburban electorates make voting choices, anything to spite the big city inevitably spites themselves, be it transportation linkages, telecom linkages, economic linkages, infrastructure linkages, and so on.
    The idea of the satellite/bedroom community was always a temporary one: it’s unsustainable to enjoy the benefits of the city without including the city. Only now is this becoming apparent as regional governance slowly assumes prominence (cf., Metrolinx).

  • http://undefined rek

    “Increasingly, suburban communities can no longer ignore the urban core which gave them the influx of people in the first place.”
    That won’t stop them from trying though.

  • http://undefined alpe

    what a set of clowns with ford the biggest – are we ever in trouble!!!! please find us some candidates who are really qualified to run a city of this size which has a budget bigger than a lot of the provinces, and can demonstrate leadership qualities we so desperately need!!

  • http://undefined minou

    While at first Ben Mulroney may seem like a weird choice, I’m not surprised that he was the host of a political debate, given that his father used to be Prime Minister.

  • Anonymous

    A very unbias article you wrote there mate. I have a shared ownership in a resort with my friends. How Land Transfer Tax works with fractional ownership resorts? Recently I have read in one site about beneficial interest as it relates to land at What do you think?