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article imageToronto Yorkville mayoral debate: Night of catchphrases, jabs Special

By Andrew Moran     Oct 13, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - At the Toronto Yorkville mayoral debate, candidates Rob Ford, Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi and George Smitherman all had their own little catchphrases that resonated with the audience, while also taking jabs at the opposition that provided chuckles.
Toronto election, debate
The clock continues to tick as Toronto voters head to the polls in less than two weeks. The latest poll from the Rob Ford campaign suggests that Ford is holding a commanding 23-point lead over his closest rival George Smitherman, while Joe Pantalone has risen but Rocco Rossi remains last.
On Tuesday, the remaining top four mayoral candidates gathered at the St. Paul’s Bloor Street Church where they participated in a debate presented by the Greater Yorkville Residents’ Association, Yonge Bloor Bay Business Association and the Toronto Midtown Business Association.
The two-hour debate – moderated by TVO anchor and senior editor, Steve Palkin – was the night of catchphrases from the mayoral candidates and jabs between one another. The debate touched upon a range of issues from the garbage strike of 2009 to the business sector of the Greater Toronto Area to how Yorkville plays a part in city planning.
Toronto mayoral candidates  Rocco Rossi (L) and George Smitherman.
Toronto mayoral candidates, Rocco Rossi (L) and George Smitherman.
The catchphrases
Rob Ford: “He did what he said.” – Ford answering a question from the audience that asks how each of the candidate’s success will be measured at the end of their four-year term.
Joe Pantalone: “When you think of HST, think of George Smitherman.” – Pantalone stated when he and Smitherman got into a heated exchange.
Rocco Rossi: “Woodbine almost Live.” – Rossi jabbed in reference to Ford’s praise of his Woodbine Live contribution, which was followed by laughter from the large crowd. And “Toronto wants a mayor that will fight tooth and nail for the taxpayer.” – Rossi emphatically stated when, again, dressing one of Ford’s platforms.
George Smitherman: “Yeah, like Christie Pits.” – Smitherman threw in there when Pantalone was answering a question from Palkin.
The issues
“When I think of Toronto, I think of Hazelton Lane, I think of high-end restaurants, tourism,” said Ford in an introduction speech to the audience. “Including Yorkville, my vision for Toronto is a clean, vibrant city, and I emphasize the word vibrant because we really must make the city as prosperous for everyone that comes here.”
Toronto mayoral candidate  Rob Ford.
Toronto mayoral candidate, Rob Ford.
Ford went onto state that what makes Yorkville great is that it’s clean and “there’s no graffiti” because the residents make sure there is none. One of Ford’s platforms is to get rid of graffiti in the city of Toronto.
“We have challenges, yes. But there not impossible challenges. I have personal challenges, as I’m sure you have personal challenges,” said deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, who was recently endorsed by Mayor David Miller.
“The city has challenges, the federal government has challenges, the U.S. government has challenges, the whole world has got challenges. There are two ways to approach the challenge: Either you become it by investing in it and becoming better, or you simply say, ‘You know what? We cannot afford to be as good as we want to be, so therefore I’m going to close the door and hide in the basement.”
Toronto mayoral candidate  Joe Pantalone.
Toronto mayoral candidate, Joe Pantalone.
Pantalone continued to say – without the chart this time – of how small of a debt the Toronto municipal government has compared to the six largest governments in Canada. He even corrected Ford by noting that Toronto has $2.8 billion and not the $3 billion.
Furthermore, he asked for a direct answer from Smitherman of which 4,000 jobs he is going to cut. Later on, Pantalone accused of Smitherman of evading his question and instead swerved his comments to a Ford statement made earlier on in the debate.
In the end, Pantalone threw Ford, Rossi and Smitherman into the same group by repeating “these three” whenever discussing the budget, taxes, the economy, services provided by the government and the future of Toronto.
Toronto mayoral candidate  Rocco Rossi
Toronto mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi
“My vision of Toronto is a lot like your vision of Yorkville,” said Rossi, who has been urged by many to end his bid for mayor and join the “Anything but Ford campaign.” “It’s a vision that led to this renovation of this church. How do we take the best of the old and combine it with the new? How do we save heritage and move forward? How do we do it and not break the bank? We want a dynamic, vibrant place to live, work and play. We want that not just in Yorkville, but we want that in Rexdale, we want that in Melbourne, we want that in Kingston, Galloway.”
After answering questions, making the most valid arguments and even getting into heated exchanges with Ford and Smitherman, Rossi gained the most applause throughout the evening
Ford and Rossi got into a tiff on a couple of occasions. Ford alluded to Rossi’s business experience by saying Rossi has had ten jobs in the last ten years: “You’re talking about this experience; it seems like you’ve had one job per year for the last ten years.”
Nevertheless, Rossi threw a right hook at the three candidates when he said he has been given the most praise from the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Toronto Life and others on his “together we can” comprehensive fiscal plan.
Toronto mayoral candidates Rob Ford and Joe Pantalone watch George Smitherman speak.
Toronto mayoral candidates Rob Ford and Joe Pantalone watch George Smitherman speak.
After brief exchanges from all the candidates in regards to Ford’s Woodbine Live contributions, Rossi stated: “What I would ask in the discussion specifically about Woodbine Live, both the Sun and the Globe basically conducted a study in what role, and Mr. Ford is definitely exaggerating his role, so lets leave it at that.”
“I’ve been privileged in my life to represent the better part of those areas [midtown Toronto] for ten years in the Ontario legislature and to see so many familiar faces,” said Smitherman, a former Ontario deputy premier and a man who has received an endorsement from former rival Sarah Thomson.
“My vision of a Toronto is of a city that leads again. A city that makes it possible to balance our books. A city that is as powerful as we are large. A city that makes it possible to get from point A to point B. A city that is prosperous again.”
The Toronto mayoral Yorkville debate.
The Toronto mayoral Yorkville debate.
There were more shots traded between Smitherman and Pantalone than between Smitherman and Ford, which is usually the case at press conferences and other public debates.
Voters head to the polls
The race for mayor continues to sizzle when the candidates debate at the Canadian-Jamaican mayoral debate in the city’s west-end.
Toronto voters head to their nearby polling stations on Oct. 25, but can cast their vote early at a designated polling area. Rossi has already casted his vote, while Thomson submitted her choice last week.
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