Mayoral candidates Rob Ford, Karen Stintz, John Tory and David Soknacki attended the discussion. PHOTO: SAM YOHANNES

Mayoral Debate at Ryerson

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By Brennan Doherty

Just 24 hours after holding their first mayoral debate on CityTV, Karen Stinz, John Tory, David Suknaki and current mayor, Rob Ford, discussed their campaigns with Ryerson students in an on campus debate March 27.

Olivia Chow did not attend the meeting, as she had been scheduled to appear at a fundraiser the same evening — prompting jokes from Ryerson politics professor and moderator, Ralph Lean.

“I can only conclude that she’s afraid of my Ryerson students,” he said.

Introduced by Ryerson president Sheldon Levy and sponsored by the Ted Rogers School of Management, the two-hour meeting addressed questions from Ryerson students and Lean’s politics class with the candidates.

Students in Lean’s class were to attend the debate with questions prepared for the four candidates regarding their policies and platforms. Each candidate had a two-minute window to outline their mayoral platform, followed by an extended Q & A session with students.

The event allowed candidates to outline their platforms directly pertaining to student issues —addressing youth employment, transit enhancement, and the commitment of younger voters to participation in the election.

John Tory’s platform focused on constructing a relief subway line and tackling the Toronto youth unemployment rate while keeping taxes low and ensuring that he would respect the office of mayor — highlighting Ford’s scandals. He was asked by a Ryerson student and former Osgoode Law School graduate about the benefits or impediments of being a lawyer and working to reshape the law.

“I wouldn’t profess to say that someone who’d educated as a lawyer is better or worse than anyone else in terms of being in public office–going to law school certainly teaches you how to analyze problems and make decisions,” Tory said.

David Suknaki said he wants to fix “broken government at city hall.” Promising to lower business and apartment taxes, Suknaki was also a vocal supporter of a light rail transit (LRT) line to Scarborough. When asked about his plans to alleviate youth unemployment, he spoke about promises to lower taxes on apartment and small business leases.

Karen Stinz, former Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) director, spoke about the implementation of the University-Spadina line sixty years ago.

“You are the generation that will make the decisions for the next sixty years,” Stinz said. “There is no TTC and the GO. There is the customer.”

A Ryerson student who has never voted, despite being 24-years-old, asked Stinz about informing younger voters and having an open dialogue.

“I think it’s about continuing the conversation until election day because one night is not meaningful when you’re thinking about the future of the city. How do we build on tonight, how do we keep the conversation going?” she said.

Current mayor Rob Ford defended his reputation with a ‘proven track record’ for saving taxpayers money, cutting excess spending at city hall and creating 50,000 new jobs across Toronto. He claimed that the youth vote got him into office in 2010.

In his opening speech, Ryerson President Sheldon Levy addressed the importance of making students politically aware.

“There is nothing more important than civic engagement and that our students participate,” said Levy.

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