GBC’s Waterfront campus hosted a rowdy mayoral debate where all three leading candidates answered students’ questions
In a sometimes chaotic debate, mayoral candidates John Tory, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow answered students’ questions at George Brown College’s (GBC) Waterfront campus on Wednesday.
“I think any opportunity like this exposes our students to different ideas, different forms for debates. So I think as a college, as the largest college, we need to do more of these things,” said Gerard Hayes, director of student experience at GBC.
The debate gave students the chance to submit questions regarding their concerns; and Hayes commented that the quality of the questions was amazing.
The candidates were pressed on hot topics such as transit, affordable housing, employment, and childcare: issues that students felt were most important to them.
While the debate gave candidates the chance to respond, it also gave them a chance to criticize one another, as when Ford commented on Tory’s “lack of experience” when talking about the TTC.
During a heated moment in the debate, Tory told moderator Tony Keller, editorial page editor for the Globe and Mail, that “when we have two minutes of open debate, I think respectfully it is your job to make sure there a division of time rather than us shouting over each other.”
Keller responded, saying, “you guys have usually been able to manage it somehow yourselves.”
Commenting on the boisterous show, Meagan Quigley, a student in the activation co-ordinator program said, “co-operation is key. I think the way they communicate with each other is important.”
It seemed co-operation was not a strong suit for any of the candidates, as the candidates talked over each other. At one point Chow stood up to try and make herself heard over Ford and Tory.
Later, Chow jerked her thumb toward Tory and Ford and said, “listen to them! If you want four more years of this type of bickering this is the way to go. These two guys like to bicker, they like to talk over each other, that’s not how my mom taught me.”
GBC’s students do not just consist of youth or dependant students, but also students with children who require childcare while they take full-time studies.
Chow believes “it is our first duty” to raise children well, and that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Chow said she would create 3,000 childcare spaces, half of them subsidized, targeted to infants and toddlers.
What tugged at Ford’s heart are “single moms,” who want to get out and work but can’t afford the expenses of childcare. Ford said he plans to build another new childcare facility if he’s elected.
Tory said he had to be honest about the ability of municipal, commercial and property taxpayers to fund the expansion of childcare in Toronto.
“Job one is going to the other levels of government, especially the province who has made some additional contributions in recent years—I give them credit for that—and get them to step up to the plate and give us more help as the City of Toronto to expand the availability of childcare,” said Tory.
“They do have the money for childcare, for transit, for housing—the real money—and that will be key to doing anything meaningful,” said Tory.
Shana Kealey, who is campaigns staff for the Student Association and co-ordinator of the GBC parent’s association, commented on Tory’s position on childcare, “I think it’s fairly in line with him being a progressive conservative. He claims that he goes against what his party has done, but it’s just not a priority for him.”
Strong questions, along with a turnout of about 500 people, not only made for a strong debate but recognized the strength and intelligence of GBC students.
Final comments from each of the candidates summed up their plans if elected as mayor of Toronto and gave them a final shot at convincing students that they were the right choice.
“Well friends, we are either going to go forward with making sure we have the lowest tax rate in the world, or we’re going to go backwards with the retail taxes Mr. Tory said, the gas tax, the tolls,” said Ford.
Tory closed by saying, “you’ve seen no real co-operation most of the time at City Hall. One of the reasons people laugh when it’s referred to either as a church picnic or a circus is because people know that however you describe it, it’s not working to produce results for people, which is why you’re there.”
Chow says she “took action” on low-income families, childcare, and transit, and will continue to through investment, saying that Tory and Ford are failing to address these issues.
On Oct. 27 citizens of Toronto will take to the polls to select who they feel is best suited as Toronto’s next mayor.