York South—Weston debate report

I’m amazed it didn’t end with tear gas.

Doug Ford, Olivia Chow, and John Tory fought like cats in a sinking bag at the York South—Weston debate. The audience was worse.

I don’t think anyone who wasn’t a supporter will switch sides, but Ford was very effective at his first debate of the campaign.  He savaged John Tory at one point, asking him who does purchasing at City Hall; Tory had no answer and looked lost and a bit panicked. Ford asked him how many committees there are; Tory floundered and said “I believe there are five?”

But Ford’s weaknesses were apparent too. He was loud. He was simplistic. You could hear the laughs on TV when Ford attacked Tory for being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Ford wouldn’t say if he would march at Gay Pride, and gave the impression that he’d spent the last Pride parades at nearby bars. He also wanted to talk about only two things: the Ford family record and transit. Every question was answered with a subway.

And then there were his supporters. They were embarrassing, to our community and to him. They booed and jeered in the middle of their opponents’ speeches, even Tory’s final statement. They were the most awful kind of anti-intellectual: afraid to even let contrary views be spoken. The worst moment—and there were lots of bad ones—was when someone heckled Olivia Chow while she was speaking, sensitively and fairly, about Rob Ford’s crack use. The heckler said “Go home Olivia! Back to China!”. She looked genuinely defeated.

And make no mistake: debates are stocked better than trout ponds. Ford wants his opponents shouted down.

Despite the attacks from the audience, John Tory stayed poised, and when he could talk about his SmartTrack program, he came across well. But he spent most of his energy, particularly later in the debate, attacking the Fords’ record. Ford, being Ford, was loud, rude, and interrupted him before much damage was done, except by himself.

Olivia Chow was quiet and careful. A few times she even pointed out, quite decently, that the other candidates were dodging the question. She tried, too, to answer questions that she was asked with facts and reason. But her even temper—and what seemed to be uneven lighting—made her seem like the third candidate. She neither gave nor received any devastating attacks, and instead talked about policy: the three different kinds of bike lanes, community benefit agreements, youth cabinets and such. She came across as knowledgeable, fair, and a little boring.

Uneven lighting? It looked just as bad from the other side.

The candidates spent very little time talking about Ward 11 issues, with one exception. Olivia Chow’s best (and, really, only) attacks were when she went after Tory’s SmartTrack plan, which will require tunnelling in Mount Dennis. If Chow gets her way, tunnelling looks likely to be an election issue and proof that Tory doesn’t have enough experience to be Mayor.

But as Andrew Coyne pointed out on Twitter, “This ’90 degree turn’ line of attack by Chow seems well-crafted to win votes within 50 feet of the corner of Weston & Eglinton.” So Chow is unlikely to get her way.


Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

10 thoughts on “York South—Weston debate report”

  1. The audience was embarrassing. It was hard to watch. What has happened to civility in our culture? It’s the land of bullying– just like the worst aspects of high school.

  2. I was there. Stacked with supporters from all sides, particularly Fords. The whole thing was a theatrical farce which is a shame because the community associations did a good job of putting together a debate for the YSW community. People yelling and screaming and shouting down candidates, particularly the Ford supporters shouting down Tory. That’s democracy in action I guess. If Doug closes the gap on Tory, I hope Chow does the honorable thing in the interests of the city and encourages her supporters to back Tory. We need to end this gong show called Ford nation. Its an embarrassment.

  3. It was pretty disgusting. I sat in the cafeteria for the first hour as the auditorium was full and they set up a screen. After a while people started leaving so I went to see it live. The first 10 rows or so were stacked with Ford imbeciles. I couldn’t believe how crass and boorish they were. Jumping up and down, yelling, waving stupid little flags, booing whenever Tory or Chow said something, racist comments. Ford himself just lied, and lied, and lied. The best part was when he was asked if he would march in the Pride Parade and couldn’t bring himself to say no.

    Tory came of well, but seemed to brush off legitimate criticisms of his transit plan. When he said “SmartTrack will be the best thing ever for the Kodak lands” I just laughed.

    Chow seemed to stick to facts and plans, very Socknaki-like. I actually felt she did quite well compared to other debates.

    All in all I came away with an incredibly negative view of Ford and his band of idiots. They have to go.

  4. when olivia chow was heckled and told to go back to china, did any of the other candidates stand against and criticize those bigoted comments?

    if they didn’t, there is no way that they will get my vote. at that point, it’s not a mayoral debate anymore but an attack on a fellow citizen. if they didn’t do the honorable thing and come to olivia’s defense, that is pretty cowardly. those aspiring to be mayor shouldn’t stand by idle while their running mates are being attacked by bigots.

  5. I have been haunted by that racist remark as well: we are proudly multicultural in this country and that kind of playground slur would not be tolerated in any playground by any self respecting adult. It have it hurled at a candidate for public office, by a member of the voting public is shameful and shocking.
    I agree with Anon.

  6. The racist comment came from the left side of the auditorium closest to where Chow was. She said she couldn’t hear it, which is understandable as the first 15 or so rows were packed with Ford crazies that were jeering and booing.

    I heard part of the comment (was sitting about 10 rows back in the middle) and could make out people around telling the racist off.

  7. Thank you Chris and the response (and the fact that Ms Chow didn’t hear it) of the people around the remark make me feel much better, much better!

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