After ten months, it's time for one of the last major debates of the 2014 election. Follow along!
We’re down to the home stretch: election day is less than two weeks away, and we’ve hit the last major round of election debates. The CBC’s atrium is full of residents and the candidates’ supporters, gearing up for the debate that will start at 7:30 p.m. We’ll be liveblogging through some hopefully new talking points, and you can watch live as we go.
8:58 PM: And with that we are out. Thanks for reading!
8:58 PM: Last question: “If not you then who?” Chow and Tory refuse to answer. Doug Ford: “Rob Ford.”
8:57 PM: Galloway asks each candidate to name one secret place in Toronto they love, a place they’d take a visitor to. Ford says he discovered his this past week—a Hindu temple in Rexdale with “amazing architecture.” He does not cite its name. Tory: Riverdale Farm. Chow: Toronto Island.
8:55 PM: Doug Ford goes back to one of the classic Ford lies, which is that David Miller’s administration was somehow a spendthrift in comparison to the Fords. In the real world, all that happened was that the numerous grants and transfers David Miller was able to obtain and that the Fords were not lapsed.
8:52 PM: Doug Ford says Waterfront Toronto has “blow a billion dollars” with nothing to show for it, and then because of him, they are moving forward on the Port Lands. This is untrue And Tory finally gets his zinger of the evening, by pointing out that Doug was “going to build a Ferris wheel and a megamall there,” to much laughter
8:51 PM: Although a great many of the Ford brothers’ claims about budgets and taxation are lies and mischaracterizations, Ford keeps repeating without much challenge from Chow and Tory. Whether this means his opponents take it as self-evident that people know he is lying, or that there is little profit in pursuing this line any further, is unclear.
8:50 PM: Responding to a question about whether he would raise taxes to invest in needs in the city, Tory says that the real problem is that the federal government is under-investing in Toronto. This is completely true. It’s also something that John Tory can do nothing directly about.
8:45 PM: Chow pivots a discussion of whether this election is for something or against something to inequality and social services. She speaks comfortably on the subject, and it’s her best moment in the debate so far. Tonight we are seeing, in a full-throated way, the Olivia Chow many people were expecting all along. She is angry about poverty and child nutrition, she is saying you need to raise money to take care of people, she is more like herself than she has seemed in the 10 months she’s been campaigning. It is 11 days before the election.
8:42 PM: Doug Ford, who is worth millions of dollars, talks about elites “looking down on the common folk.” This is a clown show. The question, by the way, was “Is this election about voting for something or against something?”
8:39 PM: Olivia Chow is asked, by someone who identifies as progressive, about strategic voting, and why someone who is interested in defeating Doug Ford should vote for her given her polling numbers. Her answer: “Why would you replace a Tory with another Tory?”
8:38 PM: Doug Ford says being a leader means being “transparent.” The crowd laughs, presumably at Ford’s transparency.
8:36 PM: John Tory in a quote he might regret: “I don’t know how they can criticize my positions if I don’t have any.” He means it in a way that his opponents are trying to have it both ways when they attack him, but the rhetorical statement also cuts too closely to the truth.
8:31 PM: Galloway asks all the candidates to cite one mistake they’ve made and what they learned from it. Ford speaks about his comments about Bill Blair, calling him biased, and for which he apologized when Blair threatened to sue. Ford says he had a “very good relationship” with the police chief, and says they both made comments they may have disagreed with. Ford then proceeds to blame the media. Tory says he made a political mistake by “standing up for a matter of principle” by defending religious school funding. It comes out not so much an acknowledgement of error as “I regret screwing up my chances of being elected.” Olivia Chow says she regrets not speaking up about racism “even more strongly” than she has in the past, which actually the worst of all these terrible answers.
8:30 PM: Through not an especially strict moderater, Matt Galloway is demonstrating how all candidates tend not to give straight answers to a question.
8:27 PM: Chow cites four specific areas for improvement: police training that focuses on dealing with mental health issues and reduces use of force; the increased use of crisis intervention teams which have non-police support staff (like social workers); “we absolutely need to measure whether every year officers are dealing with this appropriately”; and finally she repeats her promise to sit on the police services board to ensure these measures are implemented. She provided by far the most detailed answer on this one.
8:24 PM: Next question talks about the police shooting of Sammy Yatim, and is addressed to Doug Ford. “How will you assure Torontonians that every year the Toronto Police Service will post its [progress on the Iacobucci Report (PDF)] and ensure nobody is killed this way again?” Doug says the shooting was a tragedy, expresses support for the police board but says the duty falls to them to improve matters, offers no specific details on what he’d encourage them to do.
8:20 PM: Matt says the next question is about “Toronto’s international reputation” and the crowd laughs and then the audience questioner EXPRESSLY DOESN’T ASK DOUG. Oh, this is hilarious. Olivia Chow and John Tory both talk about restoring the city’s place on the world stage, generally through business development. Doug answers anyway, talks about how proud he is of his brother for facing his addiction problem, and that he is a separate person from Rob, also.
8:20 PM: Doug Ford is leaning more towards the angry and dismissive tone we are used to seeing from him. He’s been softer recently, which has actually suited him better, but he’s reverting back to his old ways tonight.
8:18 PM: John Tory and Doug Ford go at it a bit. Ford, who has often in the past few weeks cited his ability to work with all of council, says “they’re a pack of wolves, they just don’t care.” Tory says that this is precisely what needs to be avoided, that Ford calls himself “the enforcer.” Ford responds with “Mr. Crispy Clean isn’t so Crispy Clean.” Then Olivia Chow says: “if you want four more years of this, be my guest.”
8:16 PM: Doug Ford, who first ran for office in 2010, says he has been in politics for “twenty five years.”
8:14 PM: Tory says “it starts with respect,” because John Tory is collegial, dammit, and he will be collegial! Then he starts pointing out all of the times Rob and Doug have voted against symbolic motions because they’re whiners. But he doesn’t call it that, because he’s collegial.
8:11 PM: On a question about working with council, Matt Galloway demands that the candidates not mention transit, because that’s what it’s come to. “Yes we have our differences,” says Ford about his relationship with his colleagues, but “we passed our agenda, we built the Scarborough subway.” Vehement booing. “I know what makes these councillors tick,” he says, which may be a surprise to many of his colleagues. He continues to reel off a series of dubious accomplishments including passing a balanced budget, which the City is required to do by law.
8:09 PM: Doug Ford makes a good point, his imaginary subway will cover the whole city.
8:07 PM: Olivia Chow mentions building 15,000 affordable housing units, and says that “we have built a divided city because we have left those neighborhoods behind.” Galloway asks Tory why he just muttered “that’s rubbish” under his breath. Tory replies that we are one city and what’s missing is leadership.
8:05 PM: Doug Ford says he has been to Jane and Finch 500, 600, 700 times over the past decade, and accuses Tory of being out of touch with the people of Jane and Finch. He then calls himself the mayor for the common people, and invokes “the 1 per cent.” A few minutes later John Tory tells a parable about how he went to a rich neighborhood and how he told them “if you only went two miles down the road” and how citizen engagement is the answer. Not mentioned: if anybody actually listened to him and did that.
8:01 PM: John Tory says he will encourage businesses to hold job fairs in areas of lower employment in the city. The idea that businesses need a mayor to tell them where to host job fair is laughable. This is not a credible policy plan. Olivia Chow on Regent Park and attacking Tory and Ford’s private-sector idealism: “It took a city to make Regent Park. Businesses didn’t just come naturally.” She’s extremely passionate on this.
8:00 PM: Doug Ford slams John Tory for hanging out on Rosedale golf courses; the audiences boos. Everyone drink!
7:57 PM: Noah Osmond, from Jane and Finch, asks Doug how he’ll lessen unemployment and find opportunities for people to work in priority neighborhoods. Doug talks about how much time he spends in priority neighborhoods, and then starts talking about subways and LRTs—the crowd literally groans—and then starts talking about re-allocating Section 37 funds to beautify priority neighborhoods and spending money on training programs.
7:54 PM: Fact-check, multiple candidate edition: Tory refers to TIFs as a dedicated funding tool, but there’s a fine distinction. TIFs are not a new revenue source, they are a financing mechanism. Doug Ford claims that TIFs do not work. Doug Ford’s transit plan includes TIFs as one of his financing mechanisms. Ford claims that he won’t raise taxes to pay for his transit plan. Yet he voted to raise property taxes 1.6 per cent over 30 years to pay for part of the proposed Scarborough subway extension.
7:48 PM: Olivia Chow is shredding John Tory on his SmartTrack funding answer, explaining that the math doesn’t work. And then Doug starts talking about ripping up roads and LRT in the middle of the road and calls Tory a flip-flopper and a taxer because Doug only ever has talking points. John Tory looks like he wants to murder Doug. John Tory goes to the “province created TIF expressly for this sort of spending” again, because an appeal-to-authority fallacy is what you expect from the leading mayoral candidate. Then he complains that Olivia Chow isn’t bold. Meanwhile, Doug pretends that his new subway lines that he drew on a map are somehow not going to need an environmental assessment or engineering assessment.
7:47 PM: Next question: what’s John Tory’s back-up plan if his financing model for SmartTrack fails? Tory begins by speaking of his “confidence” that it will inevitably work. Galloway presses, and Tory responds in the same vein: “There is nobody who disputes that there are two million people coming to this city…they have to have a place to live, they have to have a place to work.”
7:45 PM: First mention of “second class citizens” by Doug Ford, referring to Scarborough residents and their lack of subways. Everybody drink!
7:37 PM: Moving straight to audience questions, which will form the bulk of tonight’s queries. It comes from a woman who lives in east Scarborough and cites “transit squabbling. “What will you do specifically to pull together council?” she asks. Chow says she would immediately improve bus service, and cites the 10 bus routes that were cut in Scarborough during the Ford administration. But reversing those cuts won’t be easy, and there are questions as to how quickly the TTC would be able to improve the bus service Chow says she wants. Tory adds that reliability needs to be improved and service enhancements implemented, as well as constructing the Scarborough subway extension. But the devil is in the details and they are lacking. Ford—after once again trying to make subways an issue about what people deserve rather than what’s most effective, and having to be coached by Matt Galloway into actually answering the question—says he’ll put $30 million into bus services.
7:36 PM: Doug Ford claims that Team Ford had a 0% tax increase over all four years, which of course it didn’t. He claims the Fords have been smashing records all over Toronto. Probably “number of crack smoking mayors” isn’t one of the ones he wanted to mention.
7:33 PM: First question: what shape is our city in? Tory: “Good but not great.” Ford: “The best shape it’s ever been in.” Chow: “Fine, with the exception of a large number of people, because it is a divided city.” Those three answers are telling, and they show the candidates sharpening the differences between themselves. Chow’s taking a more aggressively progressive stance, Ford is aggressively more of the same, and Tory takes a little from column A and a little from column B.
7:33 PM: Olivia Chow is smiling. Doug Ford has his go-to blank stare. John Tory looks remarkably grumpy.
7:29 PM: Galloway is joined by Rahul Bhwardwaj, president of the Toronto Foundation, which issued the Vital Signs report last week. It’s a sort of annual check-up for the city, a compilation of qualitative and quantitative analyses of a broad array of metrics that assess Toronto’s health. The report’s conclusions will be informing much of tonight’s debate.
7:27 PM: They’re asking for decorum and respect from the audience and backing it up with the threat of a Stern Talk from security.
7:13 PM: Strong initial turnout in the advance polls may indicate an increased interest in this election. It may also show that at least one mayoral candidate has been extremely organized at getting their people out early. I don’t think it’s good news for Doug Ford, whose brother lost his 2010 voter database when campaign manager Nick Kouvalis broke with Ford. Sources close to Ford tell us he has almost no volunteer machine to get supporters to the polls.
7:11 PM: It will be interesting to see how this debate differs with Metro Morning radio host Matt Galloway moderating. Galloway has had each of the three major candidates on his program over the past month, and all of the interviews challenged the candidates on the holes in their platform. If he continues to do so in the debate format, the bowtied moderator could play a significant factor in how the debate goes.
7:09 PM: A disappointingly large number of seats have “reserved” signs on them, set aside for each candidate’s supporters. The line-up of residents (who in fairness may also be unofficial campaign supporters) extends well out the door.