Update 1: This evening’s mayoral debates at Hart House began with a loud tirade by Parkdale’s perpetually-running mayoral candidate, Kevin Clarke (above), which resulted in two 15-minute recesses. University of Toronto policy mandates that an event be cancelled before an attendee be forcibly removed,
a rule put in place by SAC, the student government [thanks Jen!]. As of 7:27PM, the lights have just been turned on again in the Great Hall as we wait for the debate to begin, at least an hour late. The recesses have forced the discussion moderators to shorten the candidate’s speeches significantly, since the whole thing has to end by 8:30.
See the blow-by-blow account after the jump.
Update 2, 7:50 PM: Pitfield and LeDrew have stepped up to their respective podiums. Miller has now stepped up to uproarious applause. LeDrew began by asking, “Are we in better shape than in 2003?” LeDrew stated his support for subway construction. Pitfield believes that the three main issues of this election are “crime, transportation and garbage”. The twice-a-month TTC user stated her support for subway construction as well. Miller touted his staff’s accomplishments, including hosting the International AIDS Conference.
Update 3: 8:02 PM: The first question focused on crime, especially in regards to black youth. LeDrew supports structural change. Pitfield supports counseling and a “new quality of life plan” that focuses on young mothers and “faith communities”. Miller re-stated his “13 neighbourhoods” plan, again to great applause.
The mayoral hopefuls’ affordable housing plans were relatively scattered, overly vague and rather unrealistic. Pitfield confusingly plans to build 5,000 affordable housing a year, with 75% sold at market value. She then lamented that a panhandler man in Nathan Phillips Square gets cheques from the city. Miller’s accomplishments sounded unconvincing until he urged the room to support SCPI (“skippy”).
Update 4: 8:12 PM LeDrew re-stated his position on expanding the Sheppard line and his opposition to the St. Clair ROW. Pitfield, the driver, mentioned her support for articulated buses and decried the Bombardier deal. Miller mentioned Toronto’s flawed funding structure and how it makes it impossible to build new subways, but stated his commitment to dedicated surface routes *applause*, university student passes *applause*, and creating jobs in Ontario instead of China *applause*.
When asked about the high cost of tuition, LeDrew was interrupted several times by hecklers, to whom he asked “Are you on the payroll, too?” The question, however, is obviously a provincial one.
Conclusion: The University of Toronto crowd obviously supports Miller, followed by Pitfield and finally LeDrew. A mixture of applauses, whoops and cheers confirmed that Miller is the students’ choice, but honestly, nothing genuinely new was said this evening. Millers’ opponents are selling themselves short by being so obviously contrarian, especially Pitfield: her flip-flopping is clearly a result of her trying to be the antithesis of David Miller; her record as a councillor does not back many of her current campaign promises. Maybe Kevin Clarke is on to something.