Municipal debates—so hot right now. In the news: the first mayoral debate since Rob Ford's return from rehab, Joe Cressy considers running for Adam Vaughan’s old council seat, and former mayor Barbara Hall gets a park named after her.
Well, there was another mayoral debate last night in Scarborough. The showdown was hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress at a Pentecostal church, and was the first since Mayor Rob Ford’s return to work. Ford walked in late and then rattled of a dubious list of his achievements in office. Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) took exception to some of the claims Ford made during the debate, taking to Twitter to clarify that it was council, not the mayor, who should take credit for them. Predictably, transit was a big topic of the evening, with Ford referring to himself as the “subway mayor.” He criticized John Tory and Olivia Chow for their support of the LRT, despite the fact that John Tory doesn’t actually support the LRT at all. We can only guess that he meant David Soknacki, who made his case for an LRT in Scarborough and was met with a lot of noisy heckling from the audience. Karen Stintz tried to make some witty barbs at her fellow candidates early on that fell flat. John Tory took some strategic shots at Ford’s track record, pointing to over-budget projects such as the Union Station renovation, while keeping topics like job creation and transit focused on Scarborough. If you want to watch the whole thing online, you can find it on the CBC News website.
Is an interesting turn of events, Joe Cressy, the NDP candidate who lost the recent Trinity-Spadina federal by-election to Liberal Adam Vaughan, says he is seriously considering running for Vaughan’s old Ward 20 council seat. Cressy says he has received a lot of encouragement from the community to consider entering the municipal race. The seat is currently occupied by interim councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, who has said that she will not run in the election this fall. But that doesn’t mean the pool of candidates for the seat isn’t already pretty full—so far 22 people have registered to run for council in Ward 20, and there is still time for more people to join the party since nominations don’t close until September 12.
Today a ceremony will be held to rename Cawthra Square Park—located on Church Street north of Wellesley Street—Barbara Hall Park, in honour of the former Toronto mayor who has been a major supporter of the LGBTQ community. Hall, who is now chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, was the first mayor ever to walk in the Pride parade and has been lauded as being one of the first vocal political allies of the LGBTQ community in Toronto. In a statement, Hall said that she was humbled and thrilled by the honour.